Jun 4, 2021

The Outlook for Beneficial Electrification in Heating-dominant Climates

Jenny Edwards


While energy efficiency and behind-the-meter renewables have contributed to flat sales in many regions, there are new opportunities to grow customer demand by electrifying existing loads, particularly thermal and transportation loads. But where is electrification really beneficial, from a systems perspective? Under what conditions does it lower carbon, especially when new electric loads vary by season and day, and are not necessarily in line with renewable production? These fundamental technical questions still need to be answered, and they vary greatly by region. 

This paper explores these issues with a deep dive into Minnesota’s current case for residential electrification. Minnesota is heating-dominant, ranks 17th for overall carbon intensity of the energy sector, and variable wind generation is the state’s dominant renewable. This paper uses results from a statewide air source heat pump study and electric vehicle (EV) performance data to model the economic and carbon implications of electrifying residential space heat and passenger vehicles under different electricity mix scenarios.