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The Cost of Net Zero Electrification of the U.S.A. - Highlighted Article

Posted On:
Jun 23, 2022 at 7:00 AM
Energy Policy, Climate Change


From: Friends of Science Calgary

By: Ken Gregory, P.Eng.

Date: December 21, 2021


The Cost of Net Zero Electrification of the U.S.A.


Executive Summary

Many governments have made promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing fossil fuels with solar and wind generated electricity and to electrify the economy. A report by Thomas Tanton estimates a capital cost of US$36.4 trillion for the U.S.A. economy to meet net zero emissions using wind and solar power. This study identifies several errors in the Tanton report and provides new capital cost estimates using 2019 and 2020 hourly electricity generation data rather than using annual average conditions as was done in the Tanton report. This study finds that the battery costs for replacing all current fossil fuel fired electricity with wind and solar generated electricity, using 2020 electricity data, is 109 times that estimated by the Tanton report. The total capital cost of electrification is herein estimated, using 2020 data, at US$433 trillion, or 20 times the U.S.A. 2019 gross domestic product. Overbuilding the solar plus wind capacity by 21% reduces overall costs by 18% by reducing battery storage costs. Allowing fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage to provide 50% of the electricity demand dramatically reduces the total costs from US$433 trillion to US$24 trillion, which is a reduction of 94.6%. Battery storage costs are highly dependent on the year’s weather and the seasonal shape of electricity demand.



The U.S.A. government has set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use and cement manufacturing to net zero economy-wide by no later than 2050. Some believe we could achieved this by replacing most fossil fuel use with non-emitting energy sources and sequestering carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the remaining fossil fuel use by carbon capture and storage (CCS).

This article provides an estimate of capital costs to achieve net zero emissions in the U.S.A. based largely on an analysis by Thomas Tanton in his report “Cost of Electrification: A State-by-State Analysis and Results”. [1] Estimating the increased operating costs is beyond the scope of this study. (continue reading)


The Cost of Net Zero Electrification of the U.S.A.