Plan outlines road to decarbonizing transportation in Mid-Continental U.S.

The analysis, conducted by MTEC, finds that electric vehicles (EVs) are an essential part of the effort to decarbonize the transportation sector—and the energy system as a whole—by midcentury.

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A coalition of stakeholders, led by the Great Plains Institute, has developed a first-of-its-kind road map to illustrate how electric vehicles (EVs) can cut carbon and other harmful pollution while bringing many other important benefits to the mid-continental region of the United States.

With the transportation sector representing the largest emitting sector in the U.S. economy, EVs are essential to tackling the decarbonization challenge.

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The Road Map to Decarbonization in the Midcontinent: Transportation Electrification was released at the institute’s 2019 EV Summit in Chicago on Jan. 23.

Hosted by the Great Plains Institute and Midcontinent Transportation Electrification Collaborative (MTEC), the summit brought together environmental groups, automakers, charging companies, utilities, NGOs, and state officials to discuss challenges and opportunities to accelerate progress on transportation electrification.

“Our analysis suggests EVs are very good news for the Midcontinent region, because EVs reduce harmful air pollution while making it possible to better manage the electricity system to benefit all consumers. The region must act to drive EV adoption, and the road map we are releasing today points the way,” said Brendan Jordan, vice president of transportation and fuels at the Great Plains Institute. “To realize the many benefits EVs have to offer, we will need a concerted effort by state and local officials, as well as utilities, businesses and other stakeholders.”

The analysis, conducted by MTEC, finds that electric vehicles (EVs) are an essential part of the effort to decarbonize the transportation sector—and the energy system as a whole—by midcentury. When combined with a decarbonized electricity sector, EVs can contribute to rapid decarbonization of transportation while bringing many other economic and public health benefits.

The report covers 11 states in the mid-U.S., including Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Louisiana. Seven of these states have Clean Cities coalitions that are partners in the American Lung Association’s Midwest EVOLVE project.

Other key findings of the report include:

  • To increase EV adoption, governments, utilities, automakers, charging companies, and other private sector actors need to work together to remove the barriers to rapid EV adoption across all vehicle classes. These barriers include availability of vehicle charging infrastructure and upfront costs of EVs.
  • Consumers are the key. State leaders and the private sector must work to create a consumer ecosystem that supports consumers in sharing the benefits from EVs. Among the measures that could help are investments in charging infrastructure, purchase incentives to reduce consumer up-front cost, and EV-friendly electricity rates.
  • Electricity used in an EV in the Midcontinent is already a cleaner fuel than gasoline and diesel. Working toward further decarbonizing the electricity system, including through increased renewables deployment, will make electricity an even cleaner transportation fuel.
  • EVs are a big part of the solution, but they are not the only solution. Even under optimistic “stretch” scenarios for EV adoption in the Midcontinent, it is clear that other measures—such as low- and zero-carbon liquid fuels—will be necessary to reach higher levels of decarbonization in the sector.

“This road map—a first-of-its-kind for any U.S. region—is premised on the idea that decarbonization is a destination we need to reach,” said Franz Litz of the Great Plains Institute. “We are proud that this analysis was created by bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders across the private, public, and government sectors. It’s encouraging to witness what is possible through that kind of broad collaboration, which is vital if we are to meet ambitious midcentury decarbonization goals.”

The Transportation Electrification Summit featured speakers from Alliance for Transportation Electrification, Audi, Center for Automotive Research, ChargePoint, Chicago Department of Transportation, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Urban Mobility, Great Plains Institute, Michigan Public Service Commission, Minnesota Department of Transportation, and Union of Concerned Scientists, among others.

To read the report, visit this interactive website.

About the Great Plains Institute: A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, the Great Plains Institute (GPI) is transforming the energy system to benefit the economy and environment. GPI combines a unique consensus-building approach, expert knowledge, research and analysis, and local action to find and implement lasting energy solutions. Our work strengthens communities and provides greater economic opportunity through creation of higher paying jobs, expansion of the nation’s industrial base, and greater domestic energy independence while eliminating carbon emissions. Learn more at www.betterenergy.org.

About the Midcontinent Transportation Electrification Collaborative (MTEC). Facilitated by the Great Plains Institute, MTEC works to inform decision-makers’ thinking around policies and initiatives to speed the electrification of transportation in the region. The collaborative is composed of representatives from automakers, state government, electric utilities and cooperatives, charging companies, and environmental organizations. The group carries out collective research, develops white papers and policy recommendations, and hosts public workshops for policymakers and stakeholders in the Midcontinent.

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