Limits and Costs of Full Electrification

In October 2022, UC Berkeley’s Energy Institute at Haas published a paper on the limits and costs of “full” electrification, which means converting all energy services to electricity.

The paper’s conclusion reads, in part:

Policies that move to target 100 percent electrification through rigid mandates and bans therefore create at least two significant risks. The first is that they drive up electricity costs so rapidly that the policies undermine the very electrification goal they pursue. This risk is greater the shorter the transition period that is imposed. The second risk is the foreclosure of opportunities for more efficient, lower cost pathways to decarbonization that either exist today for some applications or may emerge as broadly applicable as technology advances.

“Therefore it is important that policies pursuing zero carbon electrification retain some flexibility either in the form of cost containment, alternative compliance mechanisms, or frequent reevaluation. It is unclear to us whether the political process will foster this degree of flexibility once leaders commit their constituents to an electric future. Despite their current lack of favor, the flexibility inherent to market-based, technology-neutral climate policies will likely become even more important as electrification progresses.”

The full paper may be downloaded at https://spurr.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/WP332.pdf

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