EFI Founder & CEO Ernest Moniz appeared in conversation with David Ignatius to discuss a survey of current energy topics on the Future of Energy, hosted by Washington Post Live. The virtual event focused on America’s future energy needs in light of extreme weather events, climate goals, evolving technologies, and the politics of the new Biden administration.
The conversation started by weighing the magnitude of the administration’s latest announcement regarding a new wind energy area between Long Island and the New Jersey coast and project development with Ocean Wind.
“It is a massive project. Let’s take a typical offshore wind turbine at, say, 10 megawatts, which is very, very large. You can see that you need 100 of those for 1 gigawatt, and, therefore, thousands being talked about here,” said Moniz when asked about the significance of this project. He also added that there are onshore issues to consider as well, including transmission and dock infrastructure.
When asked about the energy industry’s top priorities now in terms of technology and innovation, Moniz noted the importance of the electricity sector and decarbonization of the grid. “The electric utility industry is evolving, and is evolving quite rapidly. Many don’t know that almost 30 of the largest utilities in the United States have already pledged to go to net-zero emissions by mid-century,” said Moniz.
Moniz commented that Biden’s goal to reach net-zero by 2050 is ambitious but possible with major action, including negative carbon technologies paired with massive RD&D investment and coalition-building. “We need still about a $10 billion research, development, and demonstration agenda in this decade, so that we can have those [carbon negative] solutions, at reasonable cost [and] start deploying them at scale,” Moniz said. “I think that is how we meet the net-zero goal, technically.”
“Politically, it is about coalition-building — I have said that many times — and it is about recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for all regions of our country, let alone for all countries of the world,” Moniz urged. “Bringing together labor and business and environmental groups, financial institutions, religious and military leaders, we could go on, that is the winning combination.”
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