The Goldman School of Public Policy’s Center for Environmental Public Policy, housed at UC Berkeley, with help from GridLab, took a look at the current very conservative estimates for decarbonization by 2050. The 2035 Report was released in June 2020 with analysis that determined that, based upon the declining costs of renewable energy and assuming very aggresive decarbonization policies, that we can simultaneously electrify almost everything and also achieve as much as 90% decarbonization of the grid by 2035.
According to one of the lead authors, the U.S. will demand nearly 90% more power by 2050 than it did in 2018, especially if all new passenger vehicles sold by 2030 are electric and there are other aggressive electrification trends. This scenario will require a buildout of solar and wind farms, nuclear power plants, batteries, transmission lines and other infrastructure, according to Tim McDonnell and Clarisa Diaz, reporting in Quartz, which will be a “defining challenge” for the coming decades but not beyond rates of expansion that the grid has seen before.
“To achieve the 90% Clean case by 2035, 1,100 GW of new wind and solar generation must be built, averaging about 70 GW per year. Recent U.S. precedents for natural gas and wind/solar expansion suggest that a renewable energy buildout of this magnitude is challenging but feasible. New renewable resources can be built cost-effectively in all regions of the country.”
Read more in “The 2035 Report,” by Amol Phadke, Umed Paliwal, Nikit Abhyankar, Taylor McNair, Ben Paulos, David Wooley, Ric O’Connell (with funding from the MacArthur Foundation).