Publications about 100% Clean Energy

CESA Publications

Advancing Toward 100 Percent: State Policies, Programs, and Plans for Zero-Carbon Electricity (April 2021). This report identifies the states’ specific 100 percent commitments, describes ways in which they are planning to achieve their goals, and highlights some of the initial plans they have developed.

State Analyses

Some states have produced plans for how to achieve their deep decarbonization goal or have conducted studies related to deep decarbonization.


District of Columbia

  • Clean Energy DC (Department of Energy and Environment, August 2018) is the District of Columbia’s energy and climate action plan. It was produced in 2018 and identifies actions that need to be taken by 2032 related to the electricity supply, buildings, and the transportation system for the District to achieve its 100% clean energy goal.

New Jersey

  • 2019 New Jersey Energy Master Plan: Pathway to 2050 (New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, January 2020). This plan was produced by multiple state agencies to identify a clear roadmap for achieving 100% clean energy. The plan emerged from a May 2018 executive order by Governor Phil Murphy in which he directed the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJ BPU) to convene an Energy Master Plan Committee to produce the plan.
  • New Jersey 2019 IEP Technical Appendix (Evolved Energy Research, November 2019). NJ BPU contracted with Rocky Mountain Institute to prepare a 2019 Integrated Energy Plan that would inform and feed into 2019 Energy Master Plan. Rocky Mountain Institute subcontracted with Evolved Energy Research to conduct energy modeling. The findings of that modeling and a description of the methodology used are covered in this technical appendix.

New York

  • White Paper on Clean Energy Standard Procurements to Implement New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (New York Department of Public Service and NYSERDA, June 2020). New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, enacted in 2019, requires the state’s Public Service Commission to take steps to ensure load-serving entities secure renewable energy resources for at least 70% of their load in 2030, as an important step towards achieving a carbon-free power sector by 2040. This white paper has been issued for public comment. It introduces an expanded Clean Energy Standard (CES) that would re-focus “the existing and relevant regulatory and procurement structures on meeting” the 70% target and create new policies and programs.


  • Deep Decarbonization Pathways Analysis. In 2016 the Washington State Department of Ecology recommended strengthening the state’s carbon reduction goals in light of the current science of climate change. The state contracted with Evolved Energy and the Deep Decarbonization Project to conduct energy modeling “to design and evaluate scenarios that reduce GHG emissions in Washington by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.” To show that the state has multiple pathways for achieving deep carbon reductions, three different scenarios were presented in December 2016 in the form of an executive summary and a full report in the form of a slide set.

Studies by National Labs, Academic Researchers, and NGOs

National Studies

  • The 2035 Report: How Low Costs Can Accelerate Our Clean Energy Future (Goldman School of Public Policy and GridLab, June 2020) Detailed modeling and analysis from the University of California at Berkeley and GridLab, showed that the United States can reliably deliver 90% clean, carbon-free electricity nationwide by 2035 using existing technology, without increasing consumer bills, and without the need for new fossil fuel plants. The report demonstrates how recent dramatic cost declines for solar, wind, and battery storage allow for near-term decarbonization of the electricity grid.
  • Accelerating Decarbonization of the U.S. Energy System (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, February 2021). A committee of experts convened by the national academies assessed “the technological, social, and behavioral dimensions of policies and research activities required over the next 5 to 20 years to put the United States on a path to net-zero emissions by midcentury.” The committee agreed on a set of technological and socioeconomic goals, and then identified federal policies that could advance those goals. This is an interim report focused on the actions needed during the first 10 years of a longer effort to reach net-zero emissions. Another report in 2022 will look at the following two decades.
  • Deep Decarbonization of the U.S. Electricity Sector: Is There a Role for Nuclear Power? (MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, September 2019). This report by four MIT researchers examines whether new nuclear power capacity can play a role in achieving deep decarbonization of the electricity system. It concludes that price assumptions for new nuclear power make a big difference. Simulations show that the availability of nuclear at $0.05/kWh (2006$) significantly reduces the carbon price needed to achieve a 90% reduction in the electricity sector. At higher prices, new nuclear would be less of a factor.
  • Getting to Zero Carbon Emissions in the Electric Power Sector (Joule, December 2018). This article in the journal Joule by researchers and energy experts Jesse Jenkins, Max Luke, and Samuel Thernstrom reviews 40 studies published since 2014 that explore deep decarbonization reductions of at least 80%. It identifies consistent themes and insights from the studies.
  • Net-Zero America: Potential Pathways, Infrastructure, and Impacts (Princeton University, December 2020). A large team centered at Princeton University produced a major analytical study of five possible pathways that all achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. John Holdren, former Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, remarks in a forward to the report that the team “has done an absolutely remarkable amount of new work, developing new models and new data to provide an unprecedented degree of clarity and granularity about possible pathways…. They have analyzed technological possibilities, as currently understood, in great detail; they have examined the ‘co-benefit’ of reduced disease impacts from conventional air pollutants when fossil-fuel use is reduced; they have examined the employment consequences of alternative trajectories; and, perhaps most importantly, they have called attention to the most important areas where policy measures are needed to enhance and preserve the nation’s options going forward, as events evolve and understandings grow.”
  • Power After Carbon: Building a Clean, Resilient Grid (Harvard University Press, May 2020). This book by Peter Fox-Penner explores the implications of trying to move the electricity sector to 100% clean energy. It argues for “the indispensability of large power systems, battery storage, and scalable carbon-free power technologies, along with the grids and markets that will integrate them.” It discusses how the electricity system can decarbonize even as regulators and electric utilities “continue to deliver on other key performance objectives.”
  • Renewable Electricity Futures Study (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2012). This comprehensive and pioneering study used modeling tools to account for the time and location aspects of renewable generation and demand. It looked into the technical feasibility of high levels of renewable energy on the US power grid, focusing on an 80% renewable by 2050 case. Although the study found this level to be feasible by 2050, it found that wholesale power costs would increase by $25-$50/MWh above baseline.
  • The Role of Firm Low-Carbon Electricity Resources in Deep Decarbonization of Power Generation (Joule, November 21, 2018). This study by four MIT-connected researchers was published in the journal Joule. It argues that “firm” low-carbon technologies (nuclear, natural gas with carbon capture and sequestration, and bioenergy), reduce electricity costs by 10%–62% in deep decarbonization scenarios. It modeled supply and demand in a “northern” system based on New England and a “southern” system based on Texas. It found that firm low-carbon resources are particularly valuable in regions with more modest renewable energy potential. But cost only increased without firm low carbon resources once the system got above approximately 80% variable renewables.
  • Wholesale Electricity Market Design for Rapid Decarbonization (Energy Innovation, June 2019). Analysts from Energy Innovation, the Regulatory Assistance Project, and Grid Strategies, LLC produced a series of three papers that explored which wholesale market design would be best for decarbonizing the power system by integrating more clean energy reliably and at least cost.

State and Regional Studies

  • Achieving New England's Ambitious 2050 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals Will Require Keeping the Foot on the Clean Energy Deployment Accelerator (The Brattle Group, 2019). This study found that cutting carbon 80% by 2050 across the New England economy could double demand for electricity and require 4-7 GW of new clean generation investment each year. Current rates of investment are about 830 MW per year. Deep decarbonization therefore requires a substantial increase in ambition.
  • Challenge of Our Time: Pathways to a Clean Energy Future for the Northwest (Clean Energy Transition Institute, June 2019). The Clean Energy Transition Institute, a research and analysis nonprofit organization, commissioned an “economy-wide deep decarbonization pathways study to serve as a blueprint for how Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington might achieve a low-carbon, clean energy economy over the next three decades.” The study explores alternative pathways to achieving deep carbon reductions and “models the energy systems in each of the four Northwest states to identify the interdependencies, efficiencies, and trade-offs that must be considered when pursuing deep decarbonization.”
  • Deep Decarbonization in the Northeastern United States and Expanded Coordination with Hydro-Québec. (Sustainable Development Solutions Network, April 2018). This regional study analyzes what would be required to achieve deep decarbonization in New England and New York. The research was sponsored by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, an initiative of the United Nations, in collaboration with provincial utility Hydro-Québec. The research was conducted by Evolved Energy Research using the using the Energy PATHWAYS model.
  • Minnesota's Smarter Grid: Pathways Toward a Clean, Reliable, and Affordable Transportation and Energy System (Vibrant Clean Energy, July 2018). This report was commissioned by the McKnight Foundation, managed by GridLab, and carried out by Vibrant Clean Energy. It offers pathways and analysis for how Minnesota could transition to an energy system that is decarbonized 80% (from 2005 level) by 2050. The decarbonization would include the entire economy and is assumed to include energy efficiency measures, electrification, and generation changes. All modeled scenarios retire coal-fired power plants by 2030.