June 1, 2023 by Climate Interactive
The June 2023 En-ROADS update improves the electrification sectors for transportation, buildings, and industry by tying the adoption of electric vehicles and equipment to market, financial, and policy drivers. It introduces sliders that enable users to subsidize new electrification technologies, build charging infrastructure, and restrict fuel-based alternatives. Read further or watch the video below for more details:
These new features stand in contrast to the previous version of En-ROADS, in which changes to electrification were imposed directly and were detached from market dynamics.
Users can now test market and policy drivers of electrification as opposed to just mandating electrification success.
The main sliders for electrification in En-ROADS now add a subsidy to the purchase cost of either electric vehicles (in the case of the Transport Electrification slider) or electric equipment (in the case of the Buildings and Industry Electrification slider). Additionally, increasing the main Transport Electrification slider also scales up infrastructure to charge electric vehicles. The best graphs for exploring these improvements to both Electrification sliders are the “Electric Share…” graphs under Graphs > Final Energy Consumption–Types.
To increase electrification, either focus efforts on boosting electrification or discourage the alternatives.
Electrification can be scaled up through three ways that are focused on promoting and boosting electrification and new infrastructure:
Instead of directly encouraging electrification and the related new infrastructure, users can also discourage fuel-based alternatives in two ways:
There are three factors that account for relatively slow growth in global sales of electrified transport in the En-ROADS Baseline Scenario.
Charging infrastructure. Transport electrification grows more slowly than other estimates due to the steady, yet slow, deployment of charging infrastructure. Fuel-based transport doesn’t face the same limitation due to the abundance of gas stations and fuel distribution networks worldwide. The deployment of charging infrastructure relies on a reinforcing feedback loop connecting current electrified transport demand and investment in infrastructure. Without policy intervention, this reinforcing loop unfolds slowly.
Economic decision-making. In previous versions of the En-ROADS Baseline, the choice between electric and non-electric alternatives depended entirely on the total cost of ownership (TCO) rather than the purchase cost. Electricity is less expensive than fuels, but electric end-uses are generally still more expensive than their fuel-powered alternatives. As a result, focusing on just the total cost of ownership promoted earlier and quicker adoption of electrified transport and equipment. TCO includes the sum of the purchase cost, energy cost, and other operations and maintenance costs. The new model formulation has an even balance between the total cost of ownership and the purchase cost when consumers make purchasing decisions (can be adjusted under Assumptions > Electrification > Attention to total cost of ownership). The result is that electrified alternatives are somewhat less attractive in the Baseline.
Policy assumptions. The En-ROADS Baseline Scenario conservatively assumes that current policies promoting electrification will not strengthen in the future. Sliders can be adjusted, however, to encourage electrification and see the impact of additional action relative to the Baseline Scenario.
The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Global EV Outlook projects that electric vehicles could comprise 28% of transport sales in 2030, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) projects that it could be as high as 31%1, while the En-ROADS Baseline Scenario estimates a more modest 9% (as shown in the graph below)2. Many of the assumptions around charging infrastructure deployment, economic decision-making, and policy assumptions from these other estimates are not published, so we don’t know their basis.
To create a scenario that is closer to the estimates of IEA and BNEF several actions need to be adjusted. This scenario requires a 25% subsidy in electric transport, and building 100% of required charging infrastructure. The following graph shows how this scenario compares to the 2025 and 2030 scenarios from IEA and BNEF.
In the June 2023 release, electrification responds more directly to economic forces such as energy costs. Two scenarios that illustrate the relationship are low-cost electricity from a breakthrough in new zero-carbon energy and high-cost fossil fuels due to a price on carbon.
In the first scenario, shown in the graphs below, a significant breakthrough in new zero-carbon energy occurs (New Zero-Carbon slider is set to its maximum), yet the rates of electrification for transportation (left graph) and buildings & industry (right graph) remain modest. The attractiveness of the electric transport and the equipment depends more on the purchase costs than on electricity costs.
The second scenario explores the effect of a $250 price on carbon. Rates of electrification are much higher across both transportation (left graph below), with oil prices making internal combustion engines less attractive, and buildings & industry (right graph below), as heating and cooking with gas and oil becomes less attractive.
In both scenarios above, the total cost of ownership (TCO) plays a crucial role in determining the attractiveness of end-use alternatives. Two new graphs demonstrate how the relative TCO between electric and non-electric end-uses change across the scenarios: “Cost Ratio of Electric to Oil-Powered Transport” and “Cost Ratio of Electric to Fuel-Powered Equipment”.
Key graphs related to electrification are located in several graph categories:
The “Electric Share of Transport Sales” graph shows the percentage of new transport sold each year that is electric and the “Electric Share of Total Transport” graph shows the share of total transport (old and new) that is electrified.
The “Cost Ratio of Electric to Oil-Powered Transport” graph illustrates how the total cost of ownership for electric vehicles changes compared to oil-powered alternatives. The dotted line on the graph below represents the level where total cost of ownership for electric and oil-powered transport are equal. When a scenario goes below the dotted line the total cost of owning an electric vehicle is less than the total cost of oil-powered transport. When that occurs electric transport sales will increase steadily because they will be more attractive to consumers.
New assumptions in Energy > Electrification that can be adjusted for exploring alternative electrification scenarios include:
“Attention to total cost of ownership” determines the distribution of a consumer’s focus between total cost of ownership (TCO) and purchase cost during purchasing decisions. By default, TCO and purchase cost have equal weight.
“Time to build transport charging infrastructure for future demand” indicates the amount of time required to construct additional road and rail transport charging infrastructure to meet future demand. The default amount of time it takes to build additional charging infrastructure is 30 years.
“Capital cost reducible by progress ratio” specifies the portion of initial capital costs that can decrease through learning, experience, and economies of scale at a rate determined by the progress ratio.
Personal communication (September 2022) ↩
En-ROADS assumes that road and rail transport constitutes approximately 85% of the total global transport while aviation and shipping reflects the remaining 15%. The En-ROADS Baseline Scenario assumes all aviation and shipping transport is fuel-powered. Since the IEA and BNEF projections are only for road transport (cars, buses, and commercial vehicles), their published values are adjusted by 85% to reflect these assumptions (rail represents a small fraction of the road and rail category). ↩