Electric, plug-in and hybrid vehicles could garner a collective 90 percent market share by 2030, and grid-scale electricity storage could actually increase emissions in the short term, according to an analysis by Google.org.
Google’s philanthropic arm prepared the study using McKinsey & Company’s US Low Carbon Economics Tool, an analytic set of interlinked models that estimates potential economic implications of various policies. Google.org chose the policy scenarios and input assumptions to plug into the tool.
It found that a rapid fall in battery costs and increases in energy density could allow the total cost of ownership of electric vehicles to drop below that of internal combustion vehicles by 2030. These EVs could have a 300-mile range, Google.org said. If electrics, hybrid electrics and plug-in electrics achieve 90 percent market share for light duty vehicles, this would reduce oil consumption by 1.1 billion barrels per year by 2030, or more than Canada’s entire 2009 oil production, the report said.
Google.org said that in the long term, cheap grid-scale electricity could improve power quality and reliability, lower power prices and, when combined with breakthroughs in solar and wind power, could increase renewables deployment by up to 35 percent by 2050. But in the short term, cheaper storage would allow coal units to run at peak efficiency 24 hours per day, storing energy at night and dispatching it during the day. This would reduce the demand for load-following natural gas capacity and lead to a 0.3 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions, Google.org said.
Google.org said that all breakthrough innovations in clean energy could add $155 billion per year in GDP by 2030, creating 1.1 million net jobs, while reducing household energy costs by $942 per year.
But the longer that technology breakthroughs are delayed, the more benefits are likely to diminish, Google.org said. In its model, a mere five year delay could cost the economy an aggregate $2.3-3.2 trillion in unrealized GDP gains, 1.2-1.4 million net jobs, and 8-28 gigatons in avoided greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Google.org noted that its modeling set very optimistic rates of clean tech innovation. But even with aggressive breakthroughs, the model achieved only a 49 percent reduction in greenhouse gases versus 2005 emissions by 2050, which is well short of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reduction target of 80 percent by 2050. Reaching 80 percent will likely require much more aggressive policy than exists today, the report said.