What Electrifies Me

Deck: 

The Answer, in April, in Charlotte

Fortnightly Magazine - February 10 2020
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Concerned about climate change? Want to decarbonize to slow it down? Well, the answer — it turns out — is to electrify the economy as much as is practicable. 

The Electric Power Research Institute figured this out a few years ago with its massive models. That's why it held the Electrification 2018 mega-conference. And that's why it's holding the Electrification 2020 giga-conference this April.

The math demonstrating the central importance of electrification isn't complicated. In the U.S., in 2018, an astonishingly low 17.3 percent of the energy used by residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation consumers was electricity. The lion's share was petroleum, combusted by consumers, accounting for nearly half of the energy used, 48.1 percent. Holy smokes! How can electricity be such a low percentage?

Electricity's slice of the country's energy pie was growing there for a while. In 1950, only 3.2 percent of the energy used by residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation consumers was electricity. By 1990, over forty years, this percentage had grown by leaps and bounds to 14.7 percent. In the thirty years since, however, electricity's slice of the energy pie has grown by teensy baby steps. 

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