October 22nd, 2020 by Zachary Shahan
As I wrote earlier today, New Jersey has a legal requirement to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, based on 2006 levels. Its biggest source of emissions is transportation, accounting for more than 40% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, so I focused my earlier article entirely on that topic. However, there is much more in the 200-word report New Jersey just published on how it intends to cut emissions from other sectors, so let’s dig into that.
First of all, the beginning of the report puts a lot of emphasis on the costs of inaction for the State of New Jersey, which are far greater than any combination of clean energy and electric vehicle action.
Then it gets into the action. “Building upon New Jersey’s 2019 Energy Master Plan (2019 EMP) and Governor Phil Murphy’s vision for 100% clean energy by 2050, this report analyzes New Jersey’s emissions reductions to date, evaluates plans presently in place for further reducing emissions, and presents a set of strategies across seven emission sectors for policymakers to consider in formulating legislation, regulations, policy and programs to ensure that New Jersey achieves the 80×50 goal.”
Unfortunately, after a 20% cut in emissions due to a big shift away from coal, the problem for the state is that it’s going in the wrong direction. “On a ‘Business-as-Usual’ course, which includes implementation of Murphy Administration initiatives as of 2019, 2 our 2050 GHG emissions would be higher than they are today estimated to at best be 106.7 MMT CO2e or 12% below 2006 levels, undermining progress to-date and missing the 80×50 goal (Figure ES.1).”
To repeat, but because it’s important, as you can see in that chart, transportation accounts for a huge chunk of the emissions. The quicker New Jersey can electrify transport, the better. The good thing is that the state has large — $5,000 — EV rebates, and EV charging initiatives as well.
One way New Jersey things it can shift over the energy sector to more renewable energy is via its carbon trading scheme, using the proceeds from it to invest in cleantech companies. “It is necessary for New Jersey to implement both a unified energy policy as set forth in the 2019 EMP and sector-specific policies to achieve the level of GHG reductions called for by the GWRA and envisioned in this report. For example, implementing the 2019 EMP and leveraging clean energy funding sources, including auction proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), is one backbone mechanism that can be utilized to facilitate emissions reductions in several sectors discussed below while supporting investments in New Jersey companies who deploy clean energy technology, bolstering our economy and creating good jobs for New Jersey residents.”
Buildings — residential and commercial buildings — account for 26% of the states emissions. Emissions need to be cut 89% by 2050. Naturally, this means moving away from natural gas for things like heating and electrifying, electrifying, electrifying. How does the state go about encouraging and requiring that? The report team identified 4 primary strategies:
- Develop a Buildings Electrification Roadmap, which provides strategies and concrete timelines for achieving widespread electrification. 2. Prioritize near-term conversion of buildings relying on propane and heating oil, starting no later than 2021. 3. In coordination with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), consider legislation governing all new construction and upgrades to facilitate the transition to a decarbonized building sector. 4. Mandate energy audits in state buildings and encourage/incentivize energy audits in county and municipal buildings. 5. Adopt new construction net zero carbon goals for commercial and residential buildings.
Electric generation is the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, accounting for 19% of them. Naturally, all that needs to happen here is natural gas and remaining coal need to shift over to renewables. Renewable energy is increasingly the best option for new power capacity anyway, and New Jersey has some great resources.
“The EMP projects that renewable power supply must increase from a present-day level of 3.3 GW (Gigawatts) to almost 16 GW by 2030, through an additional 12.4 GW of renewable energy. It is anticipated this will come from development of 3.5 GW of offshore wind and the balance will be supplied from 8.9 GW of in-state solar and renewable energy resources from the PJM region. By 2050 total state renewable energy capacity must reach approximately 60.5 GW, comprised of 32 GW of solar, nearly 11 GW of offshore wind, and almost 18 GW of firm capacity (e.g., low-carbon or carbon neutral fuels) to meet reliability requirements. New Jersey must also adapt and manage its electric grid through the deployment of distributed energy resources, battery storage and other strategies to accommodate the growing demand from the sectors undergoing electrification.”
But how should the state government be involved? They mention developing a Clean Energy Standard, which has worked very well in other states to give utilities and the broader market a window into the future they should be headed toward. They also mention putting regulatory limits on CO2 emissions. Otherwise, policy ideas are slim. While I could see the market guiding the shift on its own, stronger policies would help to speed up the process, helping everyone.
There are also the matters of industry, waste & agriculture, short-lived climate pollutants, and carbon sequestration. You can find more details on those in the report.
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