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The Transition to a Carbon-Neutral California

August 17, 2021
Alex Evers
Class of 2022

At the beginning of my research, I was excited to dive into the varying different sectors of the California economy and gain a better understanding of the carbon intensity in each sector. I was particularly interested in the residential and industrial sectors and how their respective carbon emissions compared to other sectors.

During the actual research, I did work in a variety of sectors: the commercial, residential, and industrial sectors. I spent the majority of my time within the residential sector analyzing the retrofitting of old HVAC systems and the estimated costs. I looked into a variety of different technologies including heat pumps, baseboard resistance heaters, gas furnaces, heat pump water heaters, and gas water heaters. I called a variety of HVAC companies to identify costs and potential for widespread retrofitting as well as creating a weighted average of the cost of the various technologies based on climate zone. Beyond the residential sector, I also spent a significant amount of time looking into the use of hydrogen within all sectors, whether that be in the form of 100% hydrogen use to a blend of hydrogen and natural gas. Blending hydrogen into our current natural gas supply could make a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions within California, but determining the adequate mixture percentage is incredibly important.

Overall this research has been very interesting and has definitely improved my data analysis skills as well as my data collection skills. The work was somewhat demoralizing at times as there is so much that needs to be done to reach California’s goal, but was also inspiring to see how many people are innovating within the field to try and meet this goal.

Spreadsheet of average installation costs