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Washington Examiner: Biden Climate Goals Mean Conflict with Natural Gas, the Resource Behind Recent Emissions Reductions

Posted by Abby Smith on Feb 15, 2021

Washington Examiner analyzed President Biden’s progressive decarbonization plans, quoting AEE’s Nat Kreamer on current industry acceleration and actions the Biden administration should prioritize. Read excerpts below and the full story here.

President Biden's aggressive goal to completely decarbonize the power sector in the next 15 years brings him directly in conflict with natural gas, the resource that has largely driven U.S. emissions reductions to date…

Environmentalists, though, say the Biden administration can issue more aggressive emissions mandates for the power sector because they aren't fighting inertia from much of the industry, as the Obama administration was…

Lower renewable energy prices, too, open the door for the Environmental Protection Agency, which sets its emissions standards predominantly based on whether there are appropriate and economically available compliance technologies, said Nat Kreamer, CEO of Advanced Energy Economy.

“What has changed over time is the costs of substitutes have come way down,” he said, referring to wind, solar, energy efficiency, and battery storage. “My fundamental perspective is that regulations can be tighter on emissions because there are economically viable substitutes that are cheaper and cleaner in the marketplace.”

Kreamer and others say if Biden is going to do the hard work of lowering natural gas emissions, he should start with EPA regulations that put controls on leaking methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from the sector. Biden, in his climate executive order, has already directed the EPA to explore options to do so…

Gimon, Rowlands-Rees of BNEF, and Kreamer of Advanced Energy Economy all said it is possible to reach around 80% to 90% renewables and battery storage without experiencing risks to grid reliability.

That last 10% to 20% would need to be largely natural gas until it is replaced by technologies that aren't commercialized yet, such as carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, or advanced nuclear, to provide zero-carbon baseload power to balance out variable wind and solar.

Utilities, though, disagree. They have much more immediate concerns about grid reliability. They’re cautioning the Biden administration not to box out natural gas or existing nuclear power, both of which they see as vital to keeping the lights on and keeping electricity affordable.

Read the full story here.

Topics: AEE In The News