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Electricity scenarios

In Reinventing Fire, Rocky Mountain Institute investigates the implications of four radically different future electricity scenarios - from a “business-as-usual” case to a network of intelligent microgrids powered largely by distributed renewables.


Historic and projected U.S. electricity demand, 1950-2050

While U.S. demand for electricity has risen in all but four years since 1949, the rate of increase has been steadily trending down. The Energy Information Administration predicts an annual growth rate around +1% to 2030 (which RMI extrapolates to 2050). Successfully implementing the energy efficiency improvements in buildings and industry discussed in Reinventing Fire could reduce this to a steady –1%.


Historic and projected CO2 emissions from the U.S. electric sector, 1990–2050

Rocky Mountain Institute’s four scenarios for the future U.S. electricity system ( detailed here ) all have markedly different projected CO2 emissions over the next 40 years.


2050 generation by case

Each of Rocky Mountain Institute’s four scenarios for the future U.S. electricity system (detailed here) will have a very different electricity generation mix.


Electric sector job quantity impact

In Reinventing Fire, the shift toward renewable power generation creates new jobs; however, these additions may be negated, as the sector is required to raise electricity rates.


Basic characteristics of Revolutionary Plus autos

Our Revolutionary auto class is based on RMI’s extensive work on the Hypercar. We use a cost model for superefficient battery-electric and fuel cell autos for both cars and light trucks. These vehicles, described in this table, are designed to compete with EIA’s average automobile in price and all driver attributes.


Map of utilities with decoupling for electric utilities

To help encourage utilities to pursue efficiency while staying financial healthy, many regulators have changed how utilities get paid for saving energy. More than half of states have some type of cost recovery in place. Perhaps the most effective mechanism has been decoupling, which breaks the link between earnings and total energy sold, and is often combined with shared savings that fully align utility with customer incentives.


Energy inefficiency in a conventional data center

Starting the savings downstream at a typical data center can achieve leverage of 10- or even 100-fold in saved fuel back at the power plant.


Residential building energy efficiency supply curve, by end use, 2050

To determine how much residential building energy can be saved at what cost we created efficiency supply curves.


Age and capacity of operating US coal and gas fired generators, fall 2011

There are currently 308 GW of coal-fired capacity and 185 GW of gas-fired capacity in operation in the United States. Assuming normal operating lives, 95% of the coal capacity and 99% of the gas capacity will be retired by 2050.


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