May 9, 2023
Journal Article

Net-Zero CO2 by 2050 Scenarios for the United States in the Energy Modeling Forum 37 Study


The Energy Modeling Forum (EMF) 37 study on deep decarbonization and high electrification analyzed a set of scenarios that achieve economy-wide net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in North America by mid-century, which explores different technology evolutions, policies, and behavioral assumptions affecting energy supply and demand. For this paper, 16 modeling teams reported resulting emissions projections, energy system evolution, and economic activity. This paper provides an overview of the study, documents the scenario design, provides a roadmap for complementary forthcoming papers from this study, and offers an initial summary and comparison of results for net-zero CO2 by 2050 scenarios in the United States. In particular, we compare various outcomes across models and scenarios, such as emissions, energy use, fuel mix evolution, and technology adoption . Despite disparate model structure and sources for input assumptions, there is broad agreement in energy system trends across models towards deep decarbonization of the electricity sector coupled with increased end-use electrification of buildings, transportation, and to a lesser extent industry. Most models show a reliance on negative emissions technologies (e.g., direct air capture and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage) and natural land sinks to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions. Important differences emerged in the results, showing divergent pathways among end-use sectors with deep electrification and grid decarbonization as necessary but not sufficient conditions to achieve net zero. These differences will be explored in the papers supporting this study to inform efforts to reach net-zero emissions and future research needs.

Published: May 9, 2023


Browning M., J. McFarland, J. Bistline, G. Boyd, M. Muratori, M.T. Binsted, and C. Harris, et al. 2023. Net-Zero CO2 by 2050 Scenarios for the United States in the Energy Modeling Forum 37 Study. Energy and Climate Change 4. PNNL-SA-183751. doi:10.1016/j.egycc.2023.100104

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