To minimize the impacts of climate change, it is increasingly clear that global CO2 emissions should be eliminated by 2050 and that leading low-carbon cities should reach net zero emissions by 2040. However, the precise pathways by which they can reach such ambitious goals have yet to be identified. As costs of photovoltaics (PV), batteries, and electric vehicles (EVs) are likely to keep falling, they can jointly play a key role for deep decarbonization. Here, we conduct a techno-economic analysis of a city-scale energy system with roof-top PV, batteries, and EVs for Kyoto City, Japan. We find that aggressive EV adoption and the use of EVs for electricity storage could help roof-top PV penetration in the city with substantially lower costs than just deploying PV and batteries alone or allowing EV to charge only. CO2 emissions from vehicle and electricity usage in the city could be reduced by 60–74% if the entire current car fleet is replaced by EVs while also reducing energy costs by 22–37% by 2030. The largest challenge of a city-wide “PV + EV” system (named as “Solar-EV city”) is its implementation. We explore how it could be realized in Kyoto through peer-to-peer (P2P) power trading/blockchain technology initially on a community scale as smart microgrids, then gradually expanding/converging into a city-wide. For the transition to decentralized power systems, citizen's decision-making process is one of the keys to overcome social, institutional, and regulatory barriers.
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