Posted on February 28, 2022 by Rich Powell
This op-ed was originally published by the Scientific American on February 28, 2022. Click here to read the entire piece.
Reducing carbon emissions in the U.S. to net zero is achievable. It’s economically sustainable, environmentally essential, technologically feasible and, with some work, even politically viable. But to have a good chance of reaching net zero, we must change the way we regulate the construction of clean energy projects.
We have all of the building blocks: significant expansion of clean energy research and development in 2005, a series of policies on energy efficiency and alternative fuels in 2007, across-the-board increases in budgets for technology innovation over the past 20 years, and an unheralded “all of the above” energy bill that became part of overall federal appropriations in 2020. In November 2021 the U.S. enacted a bipartisan infrastructure bill that included more than $30 billion of critical funding to build new clean energy projects. The private sector has responded to these initiatives with advances in emissions-reducing technologies such as advanced nuclear, carbon capture for fossil energy, and long-duration, grid-scale energy storage.
Now there is a lot to build. Analyses of the transition to a clean energy economy, from Princeton University’s Net-Zero America project, show that it requires tens of thousands of miles of new pipelines carrying hydrogen and other clean fuels, along with captured carbon dioxide away from power plants and industrial facilities. We also need a vast amount of new and expanded electrical power transmission and distribution infrastructure to carry that type of energy around an increasingly electrified country, as well as thousands of new renewable-energy-generating power plants, both large and small. All of this will underpin the clean energy upgrades to our transportation, industrial, agricultural and municipal infrastructure. This will be the largest and most exciting mainland construction project in U.S. history. Think bigger than President Dwight D. Eisenhower building the federal highway system.
Click here to read the full article