iScience. 2022 May 7;25(6):104376. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.104376. eCollection 2022 Jun 17.
A hidden barrier to the electrification of transportation is a lack of recognition of what it implies. Although the increasing popularity of battery electric vehicles (BEV) is heartening, the replacement of all personal vehicles with BEV would reduce US transportation emissions of CO2 by only about half. Aircraft and many ground vehicles are difficult or impossible to electrify. In meeting the “electrification challenge,” electricity is a medium for delivering fossil-carbon-free energy in a form suitable for each application whether mobile or stationary. This article synthesizes data from multiple sources to estimate how much biomass and GHG-free electricity will be needed to achieve carbon-neutrality in the US by 2050. Although subject to assumptions for growth and innovation, the resulting need for almost four times the electricity we use today and over 150 billion gallons per year of hydrocarbon fuel and feedstock are so striking as to provide meaningful policy guidance.