Through Craig Fleming, Technical Writer at 3/4/2021

US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm

HOUSTON – Speaking at her first public forum as U.S. Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M. Granholm discussed her vision for DOE on Wednesday morning, day 3, at the CERAWeek virtual conference in a plenary session titled “Welcome Remarks and Special Dialogue”. IHS Markit Vice President Daniel Yergin joined as moderator. During the conference, Secretary Granholm proposed a progressive agenda for energy research and innovation, to help the Biden administration achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and energy production carbon-free / pollution-free by 2035.

Green will create unique opportunities. Granholm opened the session by emphasizing the positive potentials of a large-scale energy transition. “The development and implementation of products that reduce carbon emissions will create a global market of $ 23 trillion over the coming decades.” “The question is which countries will be at the forefront of development,” Granholm asked. “Are they going to be in China or in another of our economic competitors?” You better believe that the scientific race that will ensue to develop these carbon reduction technologies will be intense and filled with alien factions vying for this economic sector. The plan is for the United States to come to the forefront of this battle. President Biden demands that the United States enter the battle on behalf of the American people. For too many years, we have watched other countries create economic opportunity through manufacturing and start-up, while the United States has stood on the sidelines. It stops now. Are we going to go into battle? Or are we going to bring a knife to a shootout? she said.

The DOE, “one of our nation’s fiercest fighting forces, will actively seek opportunities for American citizens as we develop and implement a carbon-free economy.” This will include adding several hundred gigawatts of clean power generation capacity over the next four years. It’s a huge challenge, but we must all work together to tackle the climate crisis, while adding millions of well-paying jobs, ”said Granholm.

History of scientific achievements. “Although the task seems daunting, the DOE has many powerful tools in its arsenal to achieve these goals,” continued the secretary. “The DOE has long been the place the nation turns to for the technological know-how to tackle complex challenges. The basic scientific research that is carried out daily in DOE’s 17 national laboratories is responsible for advancing some of our most remarkable breakthroughs. We invest in America’s premier scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs, who have developed and deployed technologies that improve our lives, create well-paying union jobs, and jump-start new industries.

“These labs,” explained Granholm, “are striving to expand our base of carbon-free technologies. For example, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee are working on a new device that makes carbon capture more efficient, using aluminum and implementing a 3D printing method to manufacture the new technology. At the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, scientists are working on next-generation battery technologies that are twice as energy dense as current products. “

Multifaceted toolbox. Once research conducted in national laboratories identifies a new opportunity, the DOE also has the capacity to turn this science into deployable technology. “In our applied energy program – which spans the gamut from renewables, carbon capture, hydrogen and grid technologies – these scientists will make it their mission to bring these energy solutions to life. clean, ”said Granholm. “This week, our geothermal office invested $ 46 million to develop cutting-edge projects that could power millions of American homes. Although geothermal energy is an old technology, it will be taken into account in the new American energy mix, ”insisted the secretary.

The DOE is also sponsoring seed R&D, which will play a significant role in the future to fund ready-made start-ups, like seaweed drones to extract biofuels and more efficient solar panels using compressed air. The DOE just announced a $ 100 million program to fund and bring transformative clean energy ideas to life. “This funding is just the start of the billions of dollars the DOE plans to provide this year,” said Granholm.

“Another powerful tool in DOE’s arsenal is the ability to fund the deployment of new technologies, once they are identified,” she noted. “As of today, the ‘lending authority office’ is operational again and has the power to allocate financial assistance of $ 40 billion. The program has helped some of America’s bravest entrepreneurs launch their best ideas and turn them into new businesses. For example, when solar PV developers wanted to speed up their operations to meet growing demand for renewable energy, the DOE stepped in and helped them build the country’s first five large-scale facilities.

“Plus, when a ‘small company called Tesla’ wanted to make the first full-size, zero-emission electric vehicles, it was the DOE loan program office that helped them move their first factory to the production scale, ”explained Granholm. “The loan to Tesla was paid off and the US taxpayer reaped a profit of $ 500 million in interest payments. Although the Loan Generation Program has been largely unused for the past four years, I plan to “relaunch the program”, to re-energize the next generation of innovation and deployment. “

New leadership. Referring to US energy policy as a “battle” demanding “great leaders,” Granholm said she was “delighted to announce that the DOE has appointed Jigar Shah – a clean energy pioneer who helped integrate solar power into the mainstream – to manage the loan. program unit. Shah – who wrote the handbook on how to bring clean energy to market – will oversee $ 40 billion in loans that are now available to support clean energy projects. Shah is a longtime clean energy champion in entities like SunEdison and Generate, which build and fund sustainable energy projects. To bring these emerging technologies to life, we are going to need hundreds of skilled workers to implement the new technologies to build a new US energy economy. To help those working in the coal and petroleum industries, we have opened an Energy Jobs Office to help these workers translate their skills into new clean energy jobs. “

However, she also acknowledged that the pace of the transition has raised concerns within the oil and gas industry about the scale of potential job losses in the sector. “I’m not going to understand how difficult the transitions are. I saw it with my own eyes, as governor of Michigan, when people lost their jobs through no fault of their own, ”said Granholm, while asserting that the skills could be transferred to the boom industries promised from the United States. wind and geothermal development. “This is our opportunity to better rebuild the energy economy, in a way that uplifts communities that have felt invisible, abandoned or left behind for too long,” she said, through clear opportunities to create clean energy jobs. “This also includes communities of color, which have been particularly affected by air pollution and high energy prices,” she noted, and who are often “the first and worst” affected. by the climate emergency.

Texas power grid. Granholm then focused his attention on combating the freezing storms that hit Texas, resulting in energy losses for millions of people. Granholm warned, “It’s a sign of what’s to come. There will be events like this happening more frequently, and we need to think about the resilience of the network, even if you live in hot places. Granholm heeded his warning that the crippling Texas winter storm will not be just a “one-off,” urging state lawmakers to consider connecting its grid to that of its neighbors. Texas’s isolated grid, which cannot take or supply electricity to neighboring states, has been reported as one of the causes of the scale of power outages, reducing its flexibility to pull power from other sources. “While I understand the philosophy of ‘going it alone’, there is also a philosophy of helping your neighbor, too,” said Granholm.

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