Clean energy strategy won’t meet clean energy goals, panel told

By: - March 12, 2021 6:20 am
solar panels

A model predicts Nevada’s emissions will increase as fossil fuel use outpaces solar power and electric vehicle growth. (Photo from First Solar.)

A new analysis finds that Nevada is not on track to meet its 2050 greenhouse gas reduction targets absent stronger clean energy policies.

The analysis by research firm Energy Innovation — based on a state-specific version of the firm’s “energy policy simulator“— shows that without additional action Nevada’s emissions will actually increase 12 percent by 2050 as fossil fuel use outpaces solar power and electric vehicle growth.

Last year, the Nevada lawmakers passed a bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero or near-zero within the next three decades, a goal consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement. 

As part of that commitment, Nevada’s State Climate Strategy was released in December and provides policy ideas for decarbonizing, however, the state report stops short of calling for specific policy proposals to reduce emissions.

Researchers who worked on the simulator have outlined policies they believe can effectively decarbonize Nevada’s economy while yielding billions of dollars in economic and health benefits.

Models run by the simulator show that stronger climate policies could add $800 million to Nevada’s economy per year and cut statewide emissions 95 percent by 2050 – generating 5,500 new jobs per year and helping avoid dangerous climate change impacts.

Retirement of coal plants, like the Mohave Power Station and Reid Gardner Generating Station, has helped electricity emissions in the state to decline by 60 percent since 2005, according to the report. Nevada still has two coal-fired power plants in operation, the NVEnergy’s North Valmy Generating Station and the TS Power Plant, which is owned, operated and generates power for Newmont Corp. gold production.

Transportation emissions, however, have continued to increase, accounting for 41 percent of the state’s emissions in 2019.

“While projected EV uptake and new solar capacity reduce emissions, those reductions are outpaced by projected growth in air travel, natural gas demand growth in buildings, and increased industrial energy consumption,” reads the report.

The research firm lays out ideas for tougher policy in order to meet the state’s statutory target covering all major sectors of the state’s economy, including electricity, transportation, buildings, industrial, land, and agricultural.

They include: 

  • Switching to 100 percent clean electricity 
  • Rapidly adopting zero-emission cars and trucks, along with policies to facilitate reducing passenger vehicle miles traveled 
  • Shifting to efficient, all-electric buildings and appliances with low embodied carbon
  • Moving away from fossil fuel use in manufacturing 
  • Reducing methane leakage from the waste management sector 
  • Improving land management to capture more carbon

Lead authors of the analysis presented their findings at an Assembly Committee on Growth and Infrastructure hearing Thursday. The simulator was presented as a free tool for lawmakers seeking to create effective policy.

“No single policy across the entire economy can cut emissions at the deep levels we’re talking about,” said Robbie Orvis, director of policy design for Energy Innovation, to lawmakers. “We can see there are certain policies that do a lot of the work.”

The firm says its simulator is also able to analyze how cost-effective different clean energy policies would be and other economic benefits.

“We actually find that transitioning to a low carbon economy does not eliminate jobs, it actually is a large job creator,” said Orvis. “The reason for that is that transitioning to a low carbon economy requires building and deploying a lot of new technologies.”

Daniele Monroe-Moreno, chair of the Assembly Committee on Growth and Infrastructure, and other legislators said they looked forward to navigating the tool.

Howard Watts, vice-chair of the committee, emphasized the importance of analyzing the social cost of carbon emissions, such as premature mortality and pollution-related illness.

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Jeniffer Solis
Jeniffer Solis

Reporter | Jeniffer was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where she attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before graduating in 2017 with a B.A in Journalism and Media Studies. While at UNLV she was a senior staff writer for the student newspaper, the UNLV Scarlet and Gray Free Press, and a news reporter for KUNV 91.5 FM, covering everything from the Route 91 shooting to UNLV housing. She has also contributed to the UNLV News Center and worked as a production engineer for several KUNV broadcasts before joining the Nevada Current. She’s an Aries.

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