A new administration in the White House means a new opportunity for the energy industry to take a leadership role in preparing alternative energy sources for prime time after the president favored fossil fuels for four years.
A coalition of industry associations calls on the von Biden government and Congress to accept their offer to advance a proposed “contain the risk” initiative from various new and improving technologies that will ultimately provide the necessary support for a clean energy future, which is believed to be dominated by solar and wind power.
The Carbon-Free Technology Initiative (CFTI) was launched this month by nine organizations, including the Clean Air Task Force (CATF) and the Edison Electric Institute. The debut was marked with introductory letters to Congressmen urging them to take a closer look at funding and incentives for various technologies at or near the time they were added to the energy mix, but still needed a slight boost to make them more acceptable to investors close.
“The goal is to make these technologies completely normal and boring,” Armond Cohen, co-founder and executive director of the CATF, told Daily Energy Insider. “Wall Street hates risk and we are trying to reduce that risk.”
The new administration, which has made climate change a top priority, seems more open to a wider range of options than the Trump team when it comes to alternative energy. “The previous administration was very selective in its thinking while the Biden team is more diverse and broad in its thinking,” Cohen said. “It would be no exaggeration to call it a fundamental change.”
However, being more open doesn’t mean that the CFTI is a panacea for ideas that go outside the box. The strategy sticks to technologies that are already finding their way off the drawing board and can be used to complement wind and solar generations, especially at certain times of the day – or certain times of the year – when sunshine and appropriate breezes are less available.
“Ultimately, technology will set the schedule for a 100 percent clean energy future. Federal policy is a necessary catalyst to accelerate the pace of innovation and ensure that these technologies are demonstrated and commercialized in the time electricity companies need them, ”said the CFTI in its introductory letter to Capitol Hill officials.
The list of possible developments includes:
- Long-term energy storage
- Hydrogen and other carbon-free fuels
- A new generation of nuclear power, both division and fusion
- Carbon capture and storage that can be used in existing natural gas power plants
- Advanced renewable energies, including superhot rock-deep geothermal energy, which can also be developed in conjunction with existing plants
Most of these ideas are on the development schedule, but could use some incentive or direct funding push from Washington to scale them up and take advantage of them on a large scale. “A lot of these proposals are not about laboratory science or breakthrough technologies,” Cohen said. “But a lot of this is about large scale deployments and demonstration projects, and these aren’t cheap.”
Proposing new editions to Congress may sound like an invitation to a stalemate between evenly divided Democrats and Republicans, but it may actually be an opportune time. Cohen said the utilities industry and other big corporations also opted for renewable energy during the Trump years, announcing their own “zero carbon” goals and schedules that even the most rocked conservatives could agree to.
President Biden plans to emphasize the advancement of technology to curb climate change. Monday at the White House revealed plans to add another 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power along the Atlantic coast. These steps will inevitably increase the frequency of hearings and debates in Congress on the intricacies of the transition. In the end, the CFTI could be the vehicle to achieve non-partisan goals of all controversies over the advancement of green energy and turn it into some kind of “boring” technology that Wall Street loves and that voters take for granted.
“We have the technology that will be in the future, but we have to scale up,” said Cohen. “But if you had said 15 years ago that wind and solar technology would be able to be as dominant as it is now, I would have said you were dreaming.”