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ITIF: Biden Infrastructure Bill Makes Major Investments To Accelerate Clean Energy & Climate Innovation

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), which is a think tank for science and technology policy, has released a statement from the director of its Center for Clean Energy Innovation, David Hart. Hart noted that there is a lot of work to be done to create the solutions that will move the world into net-zero emissions, but pointed out that many major investments in the bill will accelerate clean energy and climate innovation.

“The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) includes major investments that will accelerate clean energy and climate innovation. Of special note is its allocation of more than $20 billion to pilot and demonstration projects to accelerate carbon capture and removal, hydrogen, and green industrial technologies. This sum vastly exceeds prior investments in these fields. The Act also establishes a new office in the Department of Energy to oversee these projects, addressing a major weakness in its management structure.

“The IIJA is far from the last word on climate and clean energy innovation policy. There is still much more to be done to create the solutions that will make it possible for the world to get to net-zero emissions.”

In March of this year, Hart published a report, Building Back Cleaner With Industrial Decarbonization Demonstration Projects, and pointed out that the Biden administration’s infrastructure package needed to include $5 billion over five years in cost-shared demonstration projects. These projects should focus on drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the steel, cement, and chemical industries, he argues.

In the report, he explained how these industries accounted for a large and growing proportion of the U.S. and worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Although there are promising solutions being developed, very few are being demonstrated on a large scale. The reason for that is the risk and the cost, with most of the demo projects being outside of the U.S.

Some of the demonstration projects abroad include industries such as the petrochemicals industry — which, although producing a wide variety of products that we use every day, produce a good bit of emissions. The bulk of this industry’s emissions, Hart pointed out, come from a relatively small group of intermediate projects used as inputs downstream.

He added that concern about plastic waste helped raise awareness for recycling but that innovation to eliminate emissions from primary chemical production has been sluggish. A silver lining is a demo project in Australia that will make ammonia by using hydrogen produced with electrolysis.

Steel and cement create process emissions, and cement also creates combustion emissions. Demo projects in the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, South Korea, and Japan are underway, and in these projects, steelmakers are capturing and storing carbon instead of eliminating emissions. Hart used an Emirates Steel Industries plant, for example. The plant is retrofitted with the capacity to capture 800,000 tons of CO2 per year and became operational in 2016.

Hart explained that the rest of the world has moved ahead of the U.S. in demonstrating technologies that have the potential to radically cut industrial emissions. However, current global efforts will not ensure the success of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, he noted.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported serious disquiet among experts about keeping their innovation pipelines flowing. Reports on pathways to 2050 goals published by Brookings Institution, Princeton University, and the University of Cambridge called for an exponential expansion of industrial sector technology-push policies. So, in essence, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Hart also noted that the need for solutions for industrial emissions is urgent.

“Numerous technologies that would contribute to these solutions are approaching commercial readiness, with more in the pipeline. Other governments around the world and their industrial partners have initiated projects through public-private partnerships. Congress and DOE have created the conditions for doing so in the United States, and U.S. industry has indicated its willingness to participate as well.”

Considering that Hart initially said that the Biden administration’s infrastructure package needed to include $5 billion over 5 years in cost-shared demonstration projects, it seems that the administration certainly agreed — $20 billion will be planned for both pilot and demonstration projects that will accelerate carbon capture and removal, hydrogen, and green industrial technologies. If the bill is signed into law, then this will definitely be a good move for funding these projects.

 
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Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

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