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CCTP Goal 1: Reduce Emissions from Energy End-Use and Infrastructure
Major sources of anthropogenic carbon-dioxide (CO2) and other GHG emissions are closely tied to the use of energy in transportation, residential and commercial buildings, industrial processes, and associated infrastructure. Improving energy efficiency and reducing GHG-emissions intensity in these economic sectors through a variety of technical advances and process changes present large opportunities to decrease overall GHG emissions. Accelerated development of new and advanced technologies in these areas, coupled with accelerated deployment activities, including voluntary, partnership, and assistance programs, can facilitate the realization of these opportunities.
In addition, the application of advanced technology to the electricity transmission and distribution (T&D) infrastructure (the “grid”) can have favorable effects on reducing GHG emissions. First, there is a direct contribution to energy and CO2 reductions resulting from increased efficiency in the transmission and distribution system itself. Second, there can be indirect contributions, through modernizing systems, accomplished by enabling the expanded use of low-emission and/or distributed electricity generating technologies (such as wind, cogeneration of heat and power, and solar power) and the better management of system-wide energy supply and demand. Emissions reduction from energy efficiency gains and reduced energy use could be among the most important contributors to strategies aimed at overall carbon dioxide emissions reduction.
Four types of technological advancements are applicable to this goal:
Efficiency, Infrastructure, and Equipment
Development and increased use of highly efficient motor vehicles and transportation systems, buildings equipment and envelopes, and industrial combustion and process technology can significantly reduce CO2 emissions, avoid other kinds of environmental impacts, and reduce the life-cycle costs of delivering the desired products and services.
So-called “transition” technologies, such as high-efficiency natural-gas-fired power plants, are not completely free of GHG emissions, but are capable of achieving significant reductions of GHG emissions in the near and mid terms by significantly improving or displacing higher GHG-emitting technologies in use today. Ideally, transition technologies would also be compatible with more advanced GHG-free technologies that would follow in the future.
Enabling technologies contribute indirectly to the reduction of GHG emissions by making the development and use of other important technologies possible. For example, a modernized electricity grid, described above, is an essential step in enabling the deployment of more advanced end-use and distributed energy resources needed for reducing GHG emissions. Another example is storage technologies for electricity or other energy carriers. An intelligent electricity grid integrated with smart end-use equipment would further raise performance.
Alternatives to Industrial Processes, Feedstocks, and Materials.
The economic activities in the future economy, including manufacturing, mining, agriculture, construction, and services, will require feedstocks and other material inputs to production. In addition to the energy efficiency improvements discussed above, opportunities for: lowering CO2 and other GHG emissions from industrial and commercial activities, including concepts for replacing current feedstocks with those produced through processes (or complete resource cycles) that have lower or zero-net GHG emissions (e.g., bio-based feedstocks); reducing the average energy intensity of material inputs; and developing alternatives to current industrial processes and products.