Addressing climate change requires a rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewable electricity sources and converting our appliances and vehicles to run on clean electricity. However, the increased use of variable renewable power alongside growing demands from electric machines will present challenges if we attempt to fit a clean electric future into outdated paradigms. Embracing a dynamic system and refining our ability to manage both the supply and demand sides of the grid can enable us to transition our homes, businesses, and vehicles to superior technologies, creating a dependable, clean, and cost-effective grid.
Electrifying everything—from cars to furnaces to cooktops—will create more demand for electricity and introduce new patterns of demand. At the same time, producing more power from solar and wind will change the patterns of electricity generation.
If utilities and regulators respond to rising demand by constructing costly new infrastructure and raising rates, electrification could become too expensive for many customers, short-circuiting our clean energy future. On the other hand, if they enlist the new electric machines in helping to manage the grid at lowest cost, that could create downward pressure on rates, perpetuating a virtuous cycle towards clean electricity and electric machines.