Replacing some fossil-fuel end-use technologies with efficient electric ones in industrial, commercial and residential applications carries a huge potential energy savings. According to an analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, Calif., the energy saved could reach 71.7 quadrillion BTUs and result in cumulative CO2reductions of 4,400 million tons between 2009 and 2030.

More than 60 percent of CO2emissions in the United States is related to the direct combustion of fossil fuels in the industrial, commercial and residential sectors, and from transportation. EPRI notes that as the electric sector is de-carbonized, as electricity becomes a fuel for transportation, and as fossil-fuel combustion is replaced in the three sectors, overall CO2levels will drop.

The analysis, “The Potential to Reduce CO2Emissions by Expanding End-Use Applications of Electricity,” found two key mechanisms for saving energy and reducing CO2emissions with electric end-use technologies:
  • Upgrading existing electric technologies with demand-response measures such as replacing or retrofitting older equipment with highly efficient technologies.
  • Expanding end-use applications of electricity that involve replacing less efficient fossil-fueled end-use technologies  with more efficient electric end-use ones.
“This study explores the greater potential for CO2reductions through a review of demand-side opportunities, including furthering the advancement and utilization of energy-efficient end-use technologies,” says Mike Howard, an EPRI senior vice president.

For its analysis, EPRI used the Energy Information Administration’s 2008 Reference Case as a baseline. The EIA document accounts for market-driven efficiency improvements, the impact of federally mandated appliance standards and building codes, and rulemaking procedures. It envisions a relatively flat price for electricity in real dollars between 2008 and 2030, and anticipates continued contributions of existing utility- and government-sponsored end-use energy programs established before 2008. While the analysis shows that the residential sector holds the greatest potential for energy savings and reductions in CO2emissions, the industrial and commercial sectors are roughly comparable.