White House releases net zero roadmap

The White House this morning announced a new initiative to help achieve net-zero emissions and promised to direct research and billions of federal dollars toward 37 “game-changing” energy technologies.

The Net-Zero Game Changers initiative, as it is called, is led by a 17-agency task force, chaired by President Joe Biden’s climate advisers. The administration also released a new roadmap identifying five initial key areas for energy research and development to achieve net zero by 2050: power grids, aviation, fusion energy, efficient buildings and net zero fuels and industrial products.

According to the administration, scaling up federal work in these five areas could generate climate jobs and environmental justice benefits and improve the nation’s energy security.

“The purpose of this exercise is to accelerate deployment even faster and further,” Arati Prabhakar, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said in a call with reporters yesterday.

As part of the initiative, the administration will pour funds from the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Cut Inflation Act into the five areas, the White House said. . Federal agencies will also strengthen their own coordination in priority areas and establish roadmaps to improve technologies at the laboratory scale and to generalize them.

Shalanda Young, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said on the call that the new roadmap will serve as a “comprehensive climate innovation strategy to help guide all of these investments.”

The White House said it has identified the 37 categories of “game-changing” technologies in federal agencies. They include advanced forms of nuclear, solar and geothermal power generation; advanced batteries, electric planes and high-speed trains; low carbon forms of aluminum, chemicals and concrete; emission reductions from livestock and agriculture; and direct air capture or other forms of CO2 removal.

The initiative is based on the idea that the Paris target of zeroing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is unattainable without new or vastly improved forms of energy. The International Energy Agency has concluded that nearly half of the emissions reductions needed to reach net zero will have to come from technologies in the demonstration or prototype stage – a conclusion cited by the White House task force .

“Success will require a nearly complete transformation of today’s energy system” – something that would require “unprecedented effort, scale and creativity,” the task force wrote in the roadmap.

However, some of the technologies supported by the White House have come under criticism. Carbon capture and its associated transport and storage infrastructure, for example, are hated by some environmentalists who say they prolong the use of fossil fuels and are expensive.

The administration also announced an initial $1.5 billion in Cut Inflation Act grants to build and upgrade facilities at the nation’s national laboratories, ranging from basic energy science programs fusion energy and advanced computing.

“America is investing heavily in science today to enable the solutions of tomorrow,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on the call.

Clean energy innovation, among other types of science and technology, would thwart China’s influence, she argued.

“Two decades ago, we invested up to five times more than China in development, and now we’re barely ahead,” she said.

With new federal funds due to come out of Biden-backed laws, she added, “we can stop giving ground.”

This story also appears in Climate wire.

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