More nations see clean energy as secure energy amid war – Granholm

Al Greenwood


HOUSTON (ICIS)–More nations are seeing renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and hydrogen as ways to increase energy security following the war between Russia and Ukraine, US energy secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Wednesday.

“Many of these countries have seen what has happened in Europe and Ukraine,” Granholm said. “They don’t want to rely on countries who don’t share their values for energy supply. They want to produce their own energy.”

This new focus could lead to countries becoming willing to pay a security premium to secure reliable energy. That premium could give renewable energy an advantage over more traditional sources of energy.

Nonetheless, Granholm acknowledged that oil and natural gas will remain part of the energy mix for years to come. Even the boldest projections for low-carbon energy assume that the world will rely on abated fossil fuels by the middle of the century.

Demand for energy continues to grow around the world as more people join the middle class, Granholm said. The world needs to meet growing demand while developing more diverse sources of energy.

The US is unleashing billions of dollars worth of incentives under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the latter of which contains numerous incentives for renewable energy.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law sets aside money to develop hydrogen hubs and to upgrade the nation’s grid. The US will need more high-voltage transmission lines to accommodate the increase in wind turbines, solar panels and other sources of renewable power.

Other provisions offer loan guarantees and 10-year tax credits, which Granholm said should give companies the certainty they need to make large investments.

“The Biden administration has made the US the most attractive investment landscape for new energy and decarbonisation technology,” Granholm said. “In many cases, it makes us irresistible.”

She added, “We want American workers making those technologies here. We want American workers to supply American families and American businesses with affordable, reliable, resilient power.”

The US programmes have caused concerns among some in Europe, Granholm said. “The businesses love it. The governments, not so much.

“We keep saying, ‘Have at it.’ You should do the same thing. You should incentivise the production of clean energy in your country as well.”

That said, Granholm said the US does not want to create trade wars or antagonise allies.

The Department of Energy is adding two new programmes to develop renewable energy.

One is called the Pathways to Commercial Liftoff. Under it, the department is seeking out input from companies about how to bring key technologies to commercial scale.

These include low-carbon hydrogen, advanced nuclear, carbon management and long-duration storage, she said.

Another programme sets aside $6bn for industrial decarbonisation projects in such areas as iron, steel and cement. “We can learn from it and have the technology replicated, taken to scale and exported.”

This $6bn programme could cover retrofits or new construction, she said.

Granholm stressed that the government needs the participation of companies to make these programmes successful.

The oil and gas industry can use its knowledge of offshore drilling to develop offshore wind power, she said. Hydraulic fracturing has given the industry expertise it could apply to geothermal power, an area about which Granholm is particularly enthusiastic.

The energy industry already has experience making and shipping hydrogen.

“Few are better positioned to crack open carbon management,” she said.

CERAWeek runs through Friday.


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