Project at a Glance

Title: Modeling optimal transition pathways to a low carbon economy in California

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Yeh, Sonia and Christopher Yang

Contractor: UC Davis

Contract Number: 09-346

Research Program Area: Economic Analysis, Climate Change

Topic Areas: Impacts


An optimization model of the California Energy System (CA-TIMES) is used to understand how California can meet the 2050 targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (80% below 1990 levels). This model represents energy supply (energy resources, electricity generation, and fuel production and infrastructure) and energy demand (commercial, residential, transportation, industrial and agriculture sectors) in California and simulates the technology and resource requirements needed to meet projected energy service demands. These model choices vary based upon policy constraints (e.g., a carbon cap, fuel economy standards, renewable electricity requirements), as well as technology and resource costs and availability. Multiple scenarios are developed to analyze the changes and investments in low-carbon electricity generation, alternative fuels and advanced vehicles in transportation, resource utilization, and efficiency improvements across many sectors. Results show that major energy transformations are needed but that achieving the 80% reduction goal for California is possible at reasonable average carbon reduction cost (-$75 to $124/tonne CO2 discounted cost) relative to the baseline scenarios. Availability of low-carbon resources such as nuclear power, carbon capture and sequestration, and increased availability of biofuels and wind and solar generation all serve to lower the mitigation costs.

For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Research Division staff at (916) 445-0753

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