The Department of Energy (DOE) identified three targeted areas in a clean energy technologies roadmap.

In a series of “Pathways to Commercial Liftoff” reports released on March 21, the Biden administration listed clean hydrogen, long-duration energy storage, and advanced nuclear as the key technologies to attain Biden’s emission elimination plan.

The Biden administration wants to cut emissions by half by 2030 and reach the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Each area needs continuous investments to reach its goals. The bottleneck for clean hydrogen includes infrastructure buildout and demand uncertainty, while that for long-duration energy storage is cost reduction. Meanwhile, to develop more advanced nuclear power, the key is to create long-term, high-paying jobs for traditional energy-producing communities, for example, the coal communities.

Hundreds of millions of investments are needed in the listed areas in order to meet Biden’s net-zero emission goal.

“By 2030, the reports concluded that cumulative investments must increase to approximately $300 billion across the hydrogen, nuclear, and long duration energy storage sectors, with continued acceleration until 2050 required to stay on track to realize long-term decarbonization targets,” DOE said in a press release.

DOE expects to drive up the engagement between government and industry to ensure America is the global leader in the era of clean energy technologies, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said.

“What we want to do is ensure that we’re looking at all technologies that can help towards the President’s ambitious climate goals, and lay out what you have to believe for us to actually drive commercialization for these really critical technologies,” Vanessa Chan, DOE chief commercialization officer, said in a webinar introducing the new liftoff reports.

Biden’s Energy Plan a Dangerous Delusion: Expert

In his State of the Union address in February, President Joe Biden declared that he would “finish the job” of what he calls the “incredible transition” from fossil fuels to wind and solar energy.

“The Inflation Reduction Act is the most significant investment ever to tackle the climate crisis,” Biden said, referring to $370 billion in new government spending for renewable energy, which will result in “lowering utility bills, creating American jobs, and leading the world to a clean energy future.”

However, Mark Mills, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a professor at Northwestern University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, warned that rushing to clean energy could be a dangerous delusion.

In his report, “The ‘Energy Transition’ Delusion: A Reality Reset,” Mills writes: “Despite ever-escalating rhetoric, an ‘energy transition’ away from society’s dependence on hydrocarbons is not feasible in any meaningful time frame, and it is a dangerous delusion to base policies on the idea that such a transition is possible … the realities of the physics, engineering, and economics of energy systems are not dependent on any beliefs about climate change.”

“If you build machines, like wind turbines and [electric] cars instead of conventional hydrocarbon machines, that’s a big increase in the quantity of metals and minerals you have to mine,” Mills explained. “All the mining is done with oil-burning machines, and all the resins to make wind turbine blades are done with hydrocarbons. All the concrete and steel require metallurgical coal, natural gas, and oil. So you don’t avoid [fossil fuels], you just use less of them, but then you use a lot more minerals, and a lot more mining is required.”

Energy economics is a matter of trade-offs. In this case, it is a government-imposed trade of hydrocarbon energy, in which the United States is largely self-sufficient, for a mineral-based economy that is dependent on an international supply chain with China at its hub.

Kevin Stocklin contributed to this report.

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