Grid Modernization

New APPA Report Details Electrification Trends, Hurdles For Wider Adoption

A new report issued by the American Public Power Association (APPA) analyzes trends in electrification and identifies at least three major hurdles that need to be overcome to realize wider adoption of electrification.

The report, which was prepared by Paul Zummo, Director for Research and Development at APPA, said that the electrification of end-use technologies, such as electric space and water heating as well as electric vehicles (EVs), offers potential benefits to the environment and consumers. Electrification efforts that are both environmentally beneficial and comparatively economical have been termed beneficial or efficient electrification.

The report analyzes trends in electrification deployment through the current day and discusses potential developments.

Potential benefits of electrification include, but are not limited to, reduced CO2 emissions, more efficient use of energy, long-term fuel savings, and lower overall monthly energy costs, the report said.

“Yet there are several potential challenges, including the following: electrified space heating is still generally more efficient in warmer climates than colder climates, up-front prices for many EV models are higher than for traditional transportation, and the overall cost of converting to electrified end uses may be prohibitive for many customers.”

The first part of the report analyzes currently available data showing relative percentages of electrification in different parts of the United States. Because adoption of space heating is dependent on certain key variables, the first part of this report primarily focuses on this aspect of electrification, though it does relate some current EV market data and future projections.

The data reveal that in some regions -- particularly the Southeast and Southwest -- electrification of space heating is more prevalent than in other areas of the country. Furthermore, residential customers who have electric heating in their homes do not have higher energy bills than those who primarily rely on fossil fuels, and this is due to higher incidences of electrification in states with comparatively low electric rates and more temperate or warmer climates, the report said.

The second part of the report focuses on the future of electrification and identifies at least three major hurdles that need to be overcome to realize wider adoption of electrification.

These three factors are: the cost of transitioning energy resources to electric, potential (and existing) supply chain constraints associated with the materials needed for batteries, and limitations of the existing electric grid, both in terms of wires and generating capacity.

This part of the report includes a discussion of the changing resource mix and how this may impact some of the environmental aspects of electrification.

“While there are also associated concerns, these three stand out as the most pressing. There have been multiple studies on all these issues, and this report borrows and expands upon this research.”

The purpose of the report is to draw out and amplify these barriers to adoption and discuss potential approaches to ameliorating them.