National Grid, the electricity and natural gas supplier to the US Northeast, has unveiled its Northeast 80×50 Pathway intended to “drastically” reduce emissions in its operating area by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
National Grid serves over 20 million people throughout New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, and is the largest natural gas supplier in the Northeast (as well as operating the national grid across Great Britain). In an announcement late last week, National Grid announced its Northeast 80×50 Pathway, also known as its Clean Energy, Efficiency, and Electrification: National Grid’s Northeast 80×50 Pathway. The blueprint sets out a plan to continue New York and New England’s emissions reductions: In 2015, emissions from power generation were nearly 50% below 1990 levels thanks primarily to energy efficiency, conversion from coal and oil-based generation to natural gas, and heavy deployment of renewable electricity. Overall emissions in 2015 for the Northeast showed a 16% economy-wide reduction below 1990 levels.
However, National Grid is looking to push that even further and work with the Northeast to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 — hence, 80×50. The emissions reduction enshrined in the Pathway would significantly decrease emissions compared to the current progression of emissions reduction.
The National Grid Pathway compared to historical progress emissions reduction
“For National Grid, climate change isn’t a political question, but scientific fact, and we believe that innovation and a diverse set of stakeholders at the table will enable us to reach the clean energy future that we all want,” said Dean Seavers, US President of National Grid. “Combatting climate change will require inclusive discussions that span multiple organizations and industries, and we hope the Northeast 80×50 Pathway serves as a launching point for those conversations.”
The 80×50 Pathway calls for three big shifts in the region’s energy systems by 2030 to achieve an interim reduction of 40%:
- Accelerating the zero-carbon electricity transition, by ramping up renewable electricity deployment to achieve 67% zero-carbon electricity supply
- A transformation of the transport sector, by reaching more than 10 million electric vehicles on Northeast roads (roughly 50% of all vehicles)
- A transformation of the heat sector, by doubling the rate of efficiency retrofits and converting nearly all of the region’s 5 million oil-heated buildings to electric heat pumps or natural gas
Specifically as it relates to the power sector, over 50% of the Northeast’s electricity generation comes from zero-carbon electricity technologies — of which 25% is provided by renewable energy technologies including large-scale hydro. If the Northeast is to move towards the goals of the 80×50 Pathway zero-carbon generation must increase to at least 67% of supply, and renewable electricity’s share must rise to nearly 50%.
Electricity generation in the National Grid Pathway
Beyond the interim target, the Pathway also calls for deeper and more sustained technological innovation on both the grid and customer side of the meter, backed by ambitious policy, in an effort to provide the following changes to the Northeast’s system:
Electricity, Transport, and Heat Transitions in the National Grid Pathway
“The Northeast has already achieved significant energy decarbonization,” National Grid concluded. “Yet achieving the region’s emissions targets will require dramatic acceleration in all facets of the transition. National Grid is well-positioned and committed to facilitating all parts of the transition – from infrastructure to grid intelligence, from energy efficiency deployment to renewable energy integration, and from EV charging to cleaner home heating options. But National Grid cannot do it alone. Active customer engagement, aggressive industry partnerships, and comprehensive policy and regulatory frameworks will be necessary to guide the economy-wide transformation.”