By Stacy M. Brown
There is a real big push to electrify America’s transportation system, whether it’s through hydrogen fuel cells or battery technology.
That’s the message on which Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has toured the nation as Cabinet and administration officials seek to build support for President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion, bipartisan infrastructure bill.
In addition to rebuilding the nation’s highways and airports, the infrastructure plan would remake the country’s energy system to address climate change.
“The president stood with the auto industry a few weeks ago, and the auto industry itself committed that 50 percent of its new vehicles sold by 2030 would be electric vehicles,” Granholm told The Houston Chronicle.
“So, we have to have dispatchable power, and the quest in the next ten years is going to be getting to clean dispatchable power,” she said.
Granholm added that accomplishing this involves removing CO2 and “the fossil fuel industry is looking at those technologies like direct air capture, et cetera.”
“Some of it involves expanding renewables, and some of it involves technology plays that we are really diving in on at the Department of Energy,” she said. “We haven’t cracked the code on which one yet. People have described this as not a silver bullet. This is a silver buckshot. The fossil fuel industry sees where the puck is going. They want to be part of the solution; they want to decarbonize. So, some of this will depend on how quickly they can do that work, with assistance from the research and development that can happen at the Department of Energy.”
Weeks earlier, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) announced plans to fund cost-shared research and development of natural gas demand response (NGDR) pilot programs.
Department officials said they are seeking to improve the performance, reliability, and flexibility of the existing natural gas supply and delivery infrastructure through NGDR pilot programs.
“Demand response programs aim to reduce and optimize energy consumption by promoting more transparent price signals of energy consumption to the consumers during peak demand periods,” department officials noted in a bulletin posted at www.energy.gov.
According to the bulletin, based on the success of demand response programs in the electricity markets and a growing number of challenges with the natural gas supply, the government, regulators, and industry are exploring demand response programs for natural gas systems.
“The programs can also improve system reliability across different demand sectors,” the department noted.
They said the reduction and optimization of natural gas consumption align with the Biden administration’s goal of a decarbonized power sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050.
“The president is really focused on helping communities that have been fossil-fuel dependent to add to their economies by incorporating clean energy, as well,” Granholm told The Chronicle. “And frankly, the major oil and natural gas producers have all put out their own goals of how they will get to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This bipartisan infrastructure deal has some very significant investments, $20 billion worth of pilot projects to work on the technologies that will allow those fossil fuel businesses to reduce their carbon emissions, whether it is demonstration projects in clean hydrogen or carbon capture and sequestration, as well as incentives for the further use of solar and wind.
“Texas is a huge energy economy,” she said. “We know they’ve been critical in bringing us to where we are as an industrial nation. We want to be able to have communities like Houston be able to continue their work in energy.”