Delaying Innovation = Delaying Benefits

Breakthroughs in clean energy can provide enormous benefits to the economy, security, environment, and jobs. But the longer we delay achieving those breakthroughs, the greater benefits we stand to give up.

In our model, a mere five year delay in starting aggressive cost curves could cost the economy an aggregate $2.3-3.2 trillion in unrealized GDP gains, 1.2-1.4 million net jobs, and 8-28 gigatons in avoided greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Key Learning: Delaying innovation equals delaying benefits

Technologies that Innovate Fastest Win

The technologies that become cheaper than coal and oil fastest will dominate our clean energy future. An “innovation arms race” between clean technologies will encourage healthy competition, while benefiting consumers.

For example, in transportation, we explored EV and PHEV competition against Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles. In the EV Breakthough scenario, EVs rapidly became cost competitive against CNG, leading to dominant market share for EVs, PHEVs, and HEVs. However, if natural gas extraction breakthroughs result in a sustained era of very cheap gas ($3/MMBTU), and EV breakthroughs do not happen as modeled, CNGs could dominate the market, making it much harder for EVs to reach scale.

Analysis and assumptions by Analysis executed using McKinsey & Company's US Low Carbon Economics Tool.