Joe Biden wants 100% clean energy. Will California show that it’s possible?

At-a-Glance:

There are several economic and environmental arguments for the $1.9 billion Pacific Transmission Expansion. The undersea power line would run south from San Luis Obispo County, hugging the California coast for 200 miles before making landfall in or near Los Angeles. It would be able to carry electricity from a fleet of offshore wind turbines, providing Southern California with clean power after sundown and helping to replace fossil-fueled generators. Fewer planet-warming emissions, less risk of blackouts, and no chance of igniting the wildfires sometimes sparked by traditional power lines are among the cases being made for this project. To learn more, read Joe Biden wants 100% clean energy. Will California show that it’s possible?” Reading this article could require a subscription from the news outlet.

Key Takeaways:

  • Policymakers across the country are looking to California to show that it’s possible to phase out fossil fuels. State law mandates 100% clean energy by 2045 and, in 2019, nearly two-thirds of California’s electricity came from climate-friendly sources.
  • As demonstrated by summer 2020’s rolling blackouts, there’s a clear longer-term need for clean energy sources that can be relied on when electricity demand is high and there’s not enough sunlight to go around.
  • The Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved a proposal that made its 2030 target to reduce emissions from power plants by 25% the basis for approving or rejecting new transmission lines, which is crucial for connecting renewable-energy facilities with cities that consume large amounts of electricity.
  • Climate advocates are urging Governor Newsom to play a more active role in utility infrastructure decisions to ensure the state is prepared to meet its clean energy targets.

Path to 100% Perspective:

California is a clean energy leader and state-level renewable energy infrastructure decisions made now will likely influence similar decisions across the country. State-of-the-art power-system modeling reveals that California can reach its renewable energy and emissions targets faster by utilizing flexible thermal generation. Flexible thermal generation assets can be converted as needed to use carbon-neutral fuels produced with excess wind and solar energy through power-to-gas technology, forming a large, distributed, long-term energy storage system. Such a system can provide a reliable source of electricity in cases of extreme or variable weather.

 

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Top 10 U.S. corporate renewable energy buyers of 2020

At-a-Glance:

Amazon was the number one U.S. corporate buyer of renewable energy in 2020, procuring more than 3.16 GW. Utility-scale solar power also was the most sought-after renewable resource among the country’s major corporations. That’s according to the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), a member-based organization that represents and advocates on behalf of many of the nation’s largest corporate energy purchasers. To learn more, read “Top 10 U.S. corporate renewable energy buyers of 2020.”

Key Takeaways:

  • REBA found that U.S. corporations once again showcased their resolve and commitment to renewable energy with a record-breaking 10.6 GW of contracted capacity.
  • REBA’s group members accounted for 97% of the procurements tracked in 2020. Of the 98 deals reflected in the full report, 72% were for utility-scale solar projects.
  • Amazon is on a path to run on 100% renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of its original target of 2030.
  • REBA reported that 2020 was the first year that multiple U.S. corporate energy buyers announced procurements including battery storage, aligning with broader industry trends as storage technology becomes more accessible.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Corporate renewable energy trailblazers such as Amazon are reaching and exceeding their clean energy goals. Achieving a zero-carbon power sector will require leveraging a mix of technologies and fuels at different steps along the path to 100%. Investment in innovation is proving that reaching renewable energy goals is possible, practical and affordable.

 

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Shell enters supply deal with Amazon to provide renewable energy

At-a-Glance:

Shell Energy Europe BV has agreed to supply Amazon.com Inc. with renewable energy, which will help the U.S. online retailer power its business completely using clean energy by 2025 which is five years ahead of Amazon’s target. To learn more, read “Shell enters supply deal with Amazon to provide renewable energy.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Shell Energy Europe BV said it will provide the renewable energy from a subsidy-free offshore wind farm constructed off the coast of the Netherlands.
  • According to a press release distributed by Shell, the wind farm will be operated by The CrossWind Consortium, a joint venture between Shell and Eneco.
    • Starting in 2024, Amazon will offtake 250 megawatts (MW) from Shell and 130 MW from Eneco, for a total of 380 MW.
    • “Supplying Amazon with electricity from this offshore wind farm contributes to their net-zero pledge while progressing our own ambition to be a net-zero emissions business by 2050 or sooner,” stated Elisabeth Brinton, Executive Vice President of New Energies at Shell.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Achieving a 100% renewable energy future requires collaboration and innovation to serve organizations and utility partners. Mutually beneficial partnerships, such as the newly established agreement between Shell and Amazon, is an impactful strategy with the potential to accelerate decarbonization. Although costs continue to decline for renewables, the need for ongoing solutions to create flexible, reliable and sustainable grids continues to be the overarching challenge in reaching renewable energy goals.

 

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The World Is Moving Toward Net Zero Because of a Single Sentence

At-a-Glance:

In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Global Warming of 1.5°C report stated, to have a shot at achieving the Paris Agreement’s stretch goal of limiting warming to 1.5° Celsius above pre industrial levels, every nation must cut its carbon-dioxide emissions in half by 2030—and neutralize them by 2050. Two years later, eight of the 10 largest economies have pledged to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century. Twenty-nine countries, plus the European Union, have net-zero pledges for either CO₂ or all greenhouse gases, accounting for 14.5 percent of global emissions. About 400 companies, including Microsoft, Unilever, Facebook, Ford, Nestle, Pepsi Co, and Brunswick Group, have signed on with the Business Ambition for 1.5°C pledge, which is built on the IPCC’s analysis. To learn more, read The World Is Moving Toward Net Zero Because of a Single Sentence.”  Reading this article could require a subscription to the news outlet.

Key Takeaways:

  • Like most statements the IPCC sets down, the most important sentence ever written is just terrible—clunky and jargon-filled. What it says, in English, is this:
    • By 2030 the world needs to cut its carbon-dioxide pollution by 45%, and by midcentury reach “net-zero” emissions, which means any CO₂ still emitted would have to be drawn down in some way.
  • The half-by-2030, all-by-2050 guidance is keyed specifically to emissions of CO2, by far the biggest contributor to warming.
  • According to the World Resource Institute’s Kelly Levin, “Countries with the highest emissions, greatest responsibility, and capability should adopt the most ambitious target time frames.”
  • Since the Clean Energy D.C. Act became law in early 2019, it has been joined by dozens of other national or subnational jurisdictions trying to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Path to 100% Perspective:

The IPCC’s statement has proven to be a catalyst that sparked a sense of urgency for government leaders, corporate decision makers and utilities. Renewable energy goals are taking many forms, but they have similar targets and deadlines which can only be achieved through commitment, continued research and collaboration. The renewable energy future has not yet been achieved, but with the growing number of investors, innovators and subject matter experts working towards this goal, the path to decarbonization is coming into focus.

 

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Research reveals G20 needs over 3,500 GW of flexibility to enable 100% renewable electricity, as Wärtsilä launches grid balancing technology

Capable of ramping up to 10+ MW in two minutes using carbon neutral fuels, Wartsila offers affordable path to 100 percent renewables 

Wärtsilä’s balancing technology accelerates the energy transition cost-effectively; renewables can be integrated seamlessly into different energy mixes as they become available. © Wärtsilä Corporation

The technology group Wärtsilä launched an upgraded engine today that addresses the striking need to scale up power system flexibility in the U.S in order to achieve a 100 percent renewable energy future. Wärtsilä’s 34SG Balancer engine, optimized for renewable baseload markets; is an agile, fast-starting gas engine capable of ramping up to 10.3 MW in two minutes to seamlessly integrate with renewables. The power plant solution is based on lean design, and it can be equipped with features such as unmanned standby, remote control capabilities, 24/7 data streaming and dynamic power management.

Wärtsilä’s power plant gas engines can currently run on natural gas, biogas, synthetic methane or hydrogen blends. The company is actively developing the combustion process to allow the burning of 100% hydrogen and other future fuels. Wärtsilä has a long track record of successful fuel conversions for the global installed engine base.

According to Wärtsilä, 674.6 GW of flexible assets are needed for U.S. energy systems to run on 100 percent renewable energy at the lowest cost. Flexible power system assets can come in two forms– energy storage and flexible fuel engine technology. The capacity needed to balance the country’s switch to grids powered by intermittent renewables must come from two key technologies: over 495.9 GW of energy storage and over 674.6 GW of flexible gas power capacity, capable of running on renewable fuels. Renewable fuels such as hydrogen or synthetic methane, can be produced from curtailed wind and solar, stored and then dispatched when needed.

Jussi Heikkinen, Growth & Development Director for the Americas at Wärtsilä Energy, said, “Instead of trying to balance renewables with inflexible, centralized ‘legacy’ steam power plants, an increasing number of utilities are looking at balancing their renewable portfolio with new balancing technologies, such as batteries and state-of-the-art flexible power plants. These provide the capability to balance / hedge their green portfolios efficiently and are future-proofed as conversion to carbon neutral fuels can be done when those fuels become available.”

 

Wärtsilä’s grid balancing technology is part of a portfolio of products designed to cost effectively accelerate the energy transition. The portfolio consists of power plants, energy storage and energy management systems. Optimised performance and reliability is supported by Wärtsilä Lifecycle solutions.

“Future carbon neutral fuels, which are not far around the corner, combined with highly efficient flexible power plants, can be a fulcrum for the U.S. transition. Flexible carbon-neutral power plants – using these clean fuels – are a key ingredient of the transition and the decarbonized power system, ensuring security of supply during unusual and extreme weather patterns such as those we have now seen in California and Texas. The coming years will be critical for determining a future-proof decarbonization path for every state in the country,” Heikkinen added.

 

Wärtsilä found the U.S. has the second greatest need for agile flexible solutions. This reflects the country’s exceptionally high potential to meet its demand with solar energy over 49% in the U.S. and the requirement to store that power when solar is no longer generating.

A significant degree of overcapacity is needed to account for the variability of wind and solar generation. Excess electricity is then utilised to produce future fuels with Power-to-X technology. The modelling finds that balancing the intermittency of the renewable production with a combination of flexible gas and energy storage would be 38% cheaper for the G20 countries, in comparison to relying on energy storage alone.

 

Alongside the power plant solution, Wärtsilä offers its fully integrated GridSolv energy storage technology, designed for ease of deployment and sustainable energy optimisation, and its GEMS Digital Energy Platform. GEMS dynamically optimises energy systems through a broad range of applications, like frequency regulation, to create revenue streams and enhance grid/system resilience.

Jukka Lehtonen, Vice President for Technology & Product Management at Wärtsilä Energy, said: “Currently, the industry is in a challenging situation. Investments need to be made today even if visibility of the future is not fully clear. We have developed, in an agile manner, a solution based on existing, proven technology which is future-proof and flexible. The solution can be adapted to different operational profiles and running hours, along with evolving needs of the system. Using our solution, renewables can be integrated seamlessly into different energy mixes as they become available.”

The modelling on the G20’s comprehensive need for flexibility is based on Wärtsilä’s Atlas of 100% Renewable Energy, which shows the cost-optimal capacity mix for 100% renewable electricity systems in 145 countries and regions around the world.


Learn more:

Wärtsilä’s Balancing solutions
Wärtsilä 34SG Balancer
Atlas of 100% Renewable Energy
Wärtsilä energy storage solutions

UN’s Climate Report

Media contact for more information on this release:

Mirja-Maija Santala
Manager, Marketing & Communications
Wärtsilä Energy
Mob: +358 400 793 827
mirja-maija.santala@wartsila.com

All Wärtsilä releases are available at https://www.wartsila.com/media/news-releases and at http://news.cision.com/wartsila-corporation where also the images can be downloaded.

Wärtsilä Energy in brief

Wärtsilä Energy leads the transition towards a 100% renewable energy future. We help our customers in decarbonisation by developing market-leading technologies. These cover future-fuel enabled balancing power plants, hybrid solutions, energy storage and optimisation technology, including the GEMS energy management platform. Wärtsilä Energy’s lifecycle services are designed to increase efficiency, promote reliability and guarantee operational performance. Our track record comprises 74 GW of power plant capacity and more than 80 energy storage systems delivered to 180 countries around the world. https://www.wartsila.com/energy

Wärtsilä in brief

Wärtsilä is a global leader in smart technologies and complete lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets. By emphasising sustainable innovation, total efficiency and data analytics, Wärtsilä maximises the environmental and economic performance of the vessels and power plants of its customers. In 2019, Wärtsilä’s net sales totalled EUR 5.2 billion with approximately 19,000 employees. The company has operations in over 200 locations in more than 80 countries around the world. Wärtsilä is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki. https://www.wartsila.com

Renewables expected to replace coal by 2033, says Morgan Stanley

At-a-Glance:

The U.S. is on the path to cutting out coal completely as the cost of renewable energy falls and the push for carbon-free power picks up steam. A new report from global wealth management company Morgan Stanley projects coal-fired power generation is likely to disappear from the U.S. power grid by 2033 and will largely be replaced by renewable energy resources. To learn more, read “Renewables expected to replace coal by 2033, says Morgan Stanley.” 

Key Takeaways:

  • The report from Morgan Stanley said renewable energy such as solar and wind power will provide about 39 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030 and as much as 55 percent in 2035.
  • Coal has experienced a steady decline in power generation due to sustained low prices for natural gas.
    • In 2010, coal supplied 46 percent of U.S. electricity, compared with an approximate 20 percent share just a decade later.
    • The share of electricity supplied by natural gas-fired power plants increased from 23 percent in 2010 to an estimated 39 percent last year.
  • The projection from Morgan Stanley comes as the Biden administration is aiming to make the U.S. carbon neutral by 2050, which will require steep reductions in greenhouse emissions and investments in renewables like solar and wind.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Rapidly reducing the use of fossil fuels is a big step on the journey to 100% clean energy. However, as reliance on fossil fuels declines, integration of renewable fuels and renewable generation must increase to ensure reliability and sustainability in power grids. This transition includes efforts to promote policies that enable rapid reductions in fossil fuel use and rapid increases in renewable generation in the electricity sector. These commitments will also steer electricity-sector decisions about investments, infrastructure, and technology toward decisions that quickly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pave the way for a 100% renewable energy future

 

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Xcel cuts carbon emissions 50% by 2021, eyes Colorado transmission, coal plants to reach 2030 goal

At-a-Glance:

Xcel Energy estimates that it has reduced carbon emissions 50% below 2005 levels in 2020, and is on track to meet its 2030 target of reducing carbon emissions 80% in the next decade, based on its upcoming integrated resource plans (IRPs). To learn more, read “Xcel cuts carbon emissions 50% by 2021, eyes Colorado transmission, coal plants to reach 2030 goal.”

 Key Takeaways:

  • Xcel completed six wind projects in 2020, representing nearly 1,500 MW of capacity. Another 800 MW of wind projects are under construction and expected to become operational in 2021.
  • Xcel plans to file solar plans with Minnesota regulators later this year, which would have the utility develop 460 MW of solar near its Sherco coal plant – retiring in 2030 – to take advantage of existing transmission near the plant.
  • Although specifics are not available regarding Xcel’s upcoming Colorado IRP, the plan will include transmission expansion to bring additional load from remote-located renewables into the Denver area.
  • Xcel will also propose a plan for its remaining Colorado coal plants, as well as adding more renewables, to put the utility on track to reduce its carbon footprint 80% by 2030.
  • Xcel plans to exit coal entirely in Minnesota by 2030.
  • Xcel executives will continue to be bullish on electric vehicle infrastructure build outs, investing $500 million in charging stations and distribution system infrastructure over the next five years, and closer to $1.5 – 2 billion over the next decade.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Xcel is paving the path to 100% for those in the energy sector, setting and meeting ambitious carbon reduction goals and building out its renewable energy capacity. Leveraging existing infrastructure while making key investments in solar and wind will help ease the transition to 100% carbon-free energy and serve as an example to others looking to do the same.

 

 

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The POWER Interview: The Importance of AI and Machine Learning

At-a-Glance:

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are becoming synonymous with the operation of power generation facilities. The increased digitization of power plants, from equipment to software, involves both thermal generation and renewable energy installations. To learn more, read “The POWER Interview: The Importance of AI and Machine Learning.”

Key Takeaways:

  • AI and ML will be key elements for the design of future energy systems, supporting the growth of smart grids and improving the efficiency of power generation, along with the interaction among electricity customers and utilities.
  • Centralized power systems enable equal access to clean power at the lowest cost, reducing economic inequality. Regardless of whether the path forward is more or less centralized, AI brings value to all parties.
  • “AI is very important to smart grids,” Wärtsilä General Manager of Data Science, Energy Storage & Optimization, Luke Witmer said. “AI is extremely important to the integration of smart charging of electric vehicles, and leveraging those mobile batteries for grid services when they are plugged into the grid.”
  • The more AI is used in the dispatch of power plants, the more it will be needed in the design and creation process for new power plants or aggregations of power generation equipment.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Wärtsilä uses AI and equipment expertise to enhance the safety, reliability, and efficiency of power equipment and systems. AI and machine learning will play increasingly important roles in future power generation, especially as more communities and organizations come to rely on smart grids and renewable fuels for their electricity needs.

 

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

Can Biden Get a 100% Clean Energy Bill Through Congress?

At-a-Glance:

Now that President Joe Biden has assumed office, he can get to work on his pledge to move the nation to 100 percent clean energy. During the campaign, Biden advocated a 100 percent clean energy standard pegged to 2035. This builds on state-level renewable portfolio standards, which spurred tremendous growth in renewables by mandating that utilities buy or purchase a certain amount of clean power by certain deadlines. Biden wants to apply the concept nationally while front-loading investment in clean energy and technology to bring down costs. To learn more, read “Can Biden Get a 100% Clean Energy Bill Through Congress?”

Key Takeaways:

  • Biden’s 2035 clean energy timeline is more ambitious than those of states that have passed their own clean energy targets: Hawaii, California, and others chose 2045 deadlines. Nearly all major electric utilities have pledged to go carbon-neutral or zero out emissions by 2045 or 2050.
  • Transforming the nation’s electricity system in 15 years will require an unprecedented ramp-up of renewable construction and grid infrastructure investment, and likely some reliance on unproven emerging technologies.
  • Some climate policy advocates believe a clean energy standard could materialize through budget reconciliation. The most straightforward way to do this would be to create a clean energy credit trading system.
  • Alternatively, Congress could use reconciliation to set emissions targets or award block grants to states if they pass their own clean energy standard in line with federal guidance.
  • In the waning days of 2020, Congress pulled out a surprise bipartisan energy policy win, passing a spending and stimulus bill that extends clean energy tax credits and earmarked billions of dollars for advanced energy technology research.

Path to 100% Perspective:

The path to 100% may not look the same for every organization or government. A mix of policy, technology, and innovation will be required to achieve a 100% renewable energy system. Policy alignment between the states and federal government will help to accelerate decarbonization efforts and decrease confusion for utilities and citizens trying to decipher renewable energy solutions and the timelines attached to each goal.

 

 

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Amazon Tops The 2020 List Of Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers

At-a-Glance:

Just which companies are the biggest buyers of green energy? In 2020, it was Amazon, which bypassed Google and Facebook. These companies were followed by French oil giant Total, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, and U.S. telecom Verizon. To learn more, read “Amazon Tops The 2020 List Of Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers.” Reading this article may require a subscription. 

Key Takeaways:

  • In its 2021 Corporate Energy Outlook, BloombergNEF reported that more than 130 companies in sectors ranging from oil and gas to big tech have inked clean energy deals and purchased 23.7 gigawatts of clean energy.
  • Amazon entered into 35 power purchase agreements in 2020 and has purchased 7.5 gigawatts of clean energy to date.
  • Sixty-five companies joined the RE100 in 2020, pledging to offset 100% of their electricity consumption with clean energy; there are 280 companies in all.
  • Forty-eight percent of Fortune 500 and 63% of Fortune 100 companies are promising to cut their greenhouse gases and increase their use of renewable energy or improve their energy efficiencies.

Path to 100% Perspective:

More corporations are realizing the benefits of investing in clean energy to expand responsibility, reliability, and flexibility. These companies are setting an ambitious example for others to follow as the path to 100% is seen as possible, practical, and financially feasible. Access to  clean energy resources on a global scale is making it easier for companies to set and work toward clean energy targets.

 

Photo by Abby Anaday on Unsplash.

Hydrogen advocates look to capitalize on California’s goal to replace diesel for back-up generation

At-a-Glance:

California regulators are on the lookout for cleaner alternatives to replace the widespread use of back-up diesel generation – particularly among data centers in Silicon Valley and other areas of the state – and some industry players think hydrogen could be the answer. To learn more, read “Hydrogen advocates look to capitalize on California’s goal to replace diesel for back-up generation.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Hydrogen fuel cells are advantageous for several reasons: they occupy less space than batteries, possess long-term storage capability, are quiet, reliable, and 100% zero-emission.
  • The key draw of hydrogen is its cost effectiveness at longer durations.
    • For a completely resilient, 100% renewable data center with zero emissions, using hydrogen would translate to a levelized cost of electricity amounting to $119 per MWh.
    • Batteries would lead to over $4,000 per MWh levelized cost to ensure 48 hours of backup power.
  • Taking a step back from the issue of replacing diesel back-up generators, environmental advocates are urging the state to prioritize the adoption of renewable, zero emissions technologies.
  • Ben Schwartz, policy manager at Clean Coalition, said California could adopt policies to promote the efficiency of solar and storage alternatives to diesel generation.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Renewable fuels, such as hydrogen, can help utilities overcome the variability challenges posed by seasonal conditions and extreme weather. One approach that can be leveraged in the transition to a 100% renewable energy system is power-to-gas (PtG). PtG technology uses excess energy from wind and solar to produce synthetic hydrogen and methane. The combination of stored fuel potential and thermal capacity yields a long-term energy storage system that acts like a gigantic distributed “battery.” Coupled with traditional, shorter-term storage technologies, this system can help meet seasonal energy demands when renewables are variable, and provide a reliable and secure supply of electricity during periods of extreme weather.

 

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What the Biggest Corporate Energy Buyers Want from Federal Clean Energy Policy

At-a-Glance:

The Biden-Harris administration and the Democratic majority in Congress have an important backer in their quest to achieve an ambitious climate agenda: corporate America and its increasing hunger for carbon-free energy. On January 25, a notable subset of the largest U.S. corporations signed on to a statement from the Renewable Energy Buyers Association (REBA), laying out the top federal policy priorities that will help them meet their own aggressive decarbonization goals. To learn more, read What the Biggest Corporate Energy Buyers Want from Federal Clean Energy Policy.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Many of the signatories have already pledged to zero out their carbon footprints in the next decade or two, whether internally or across their supply chains. They’ve also been procuring and bankrolling clean energy at gigawatt scale.
  • The first federal policy priority is to improve the workings of the country’s wholesale energy market and expand similar markets to the rest of the country.
  • The second priority is to “harmonize and update” the largely state-by-state policy patchwork that governs clean energy procurement and sets values on the decarbonization potential of different technologies and investments.
  • The third priority centers on moving federal clean energy research and development to commercial application.
  • December 2020’s omnibus federal spending and coronavirus relief bill contains billions of dollars for these types of commercialization efforts, from core energy technologies to applications in manufacturing and construction.

Path to 100% Perspective:

U.S. corporations have been stepping up their commitment to lower or eliminate their carbon footprints for the last several years. Yet, they cannot pave the path to 100% alone. Federal support for clean energy has been significantly reduced in recent years, with federal energy initiatives primarily focused on the fossil fuel sector. The federal government can clear the way to a 100% renewable energy future by harmonizing state decarbonization policies, optimizing and expanding the renewable energy infrastructure, and investing in clean energy technology research and commercialization. Given the scale and depth of its energy market, the U.S. has the economic and technological potential to scale up renewable energy at an unprecedented rate.

 

 

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