NEWS OF THE DAY:
National Energy Tax to Sting American Families, Manufacturers, Small Businesses
Marcellus Shale Coalition Energy Blog, September 13, 2021
Congress is weighing a new natural gas tax that will sting American consumers and all businesses, despite President Biden’s pledge not to increase taxes on working families.
The measure is buried in the massive $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill and would enact a new tax on energy production, increasing the cost of American made natural gas used in everything from power generation to steelmaking to home heating and cooking.
A national energy tax “is simply an unreasonable, punitive tax intended to harm the oil and natural gas industry and consumers, as well as diminish the tremendous economic and environmental benefits derived from the hundreds of thousands of women and men who work directly and indirectly for the industry in the Appalachian Basin,” Marcellus Shale Coalition president David Callahan wrote in a joint letter with the trade association leaders from West Virginia and Ohio.
As currently considered in the U.S. House of Representatives, the natural gas tax is a revenue raising tool – not an environmental regulatory policy – that would be levied across the natural gas value chain. This tax would increase cost of production and transportation, while discouraging safe, responsible energy development – factors that would sting American families in the form of higher energy costs.
“Layering more taxes on strongly regulated domestic energy production increases costs for those who produce and rely on these essential resources, with low-and fixed-income families shouldering the disproportionate share of the tax hike,” Callahan wrote. “The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) calculates that one-third of American households face challenges in meeting their energy needs.”
It is because of these consequences and others that Senator Manchin called for a “strategic pause” on the federal spending plan, and that nearly 65% of suburban voters (and 70% of rural respondents) agree with that pause.
Environmental performance, improving air quality and further reducing all emission sources – particularly methane – is top priority for the industry. Significant progress is being made through market-driven innovations and investments in continuous monitoring technology, equipment improvements, and operational adjustments.
In fact, thanks to the leadership of Appalachian basin producers, this region has the lowest emissions intensity of major shale oil and gas producing areas.
As more natural gas is produced and used, particularly in power generation, the U.S. continues to make meaningful climate progress, alongside significant consumer savings. Pennsylvania has seen a 37% reduction in CO2 tied to the power sector over the last five years, according to the non-partisan Independent Fiscal Office, as natural gas expanded to 52% of generation market share.
Importantly, these environmental gains are not happening at the expense of American family budgets. The IFO data shows Pennsylvanians saw further energy savings as natural gas became the affordable, reliable fuel of choice.
“Amid much of the nation’s energy discussions, state and federal policy priorities should focus on encouraging more domestic production to promote national and energy security and environmental progress,” Callahan wrote to members of the region’s Congressional delegation. “We are proud of the advancements our industry has made in air quality and environmental stewardship, and we remain committed to further reducing emissions in the fastest, most efficient way possible.”
Oil Prices Fall As Traders Anxiously Await Fed’s Decision
Tsvetana Paraskova, OilPrice.Com, September 20, 2021
Oil prices dropped early on Monday as the U.S. dollar continues to strengthen ahead of the Fed’s much-anticipated policy meeting this week, which could announce the beginning of stimulus easing.
The oil market is down for a second consecutive day after Friday’s session settled in the red, as broader markets are anxiously watching whether the Federal Reserve will announce the start of asset purchase tapering at its meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday. The U.S. dollar gains were depressing the oil market as a stronger greenback makes oil buying more expensive for holders of other currencies.
The risk to U.S. oil production in the Gulf of Mexico is now diminishing as more output is being restored in the wake of Hurricane Ida. The return of more production from the U.S. offshore also weighed on oil prices early on Monday.
“As this week starts, much of the US market tightening on account of Ida is already baked into prices, while outages in offshore oil production and Louisiana refining capacity are continuing to ease,” Vanda Insights said in a note early on Monday.
The U.S. dollar and the Fed meeting will be the key external factors that will determine oil’s direction this week, apart from the usual U.S. inventory reports by the API and EIA, ING strategists Warren Patterson and Wenyu Yao say.
“All eyes will be on the FOMC meeting on Wednesday, where some believe we could already see the Fed announce its intentions to start tapering asset purchases, though our US economist is of the view that an announcement is more likely in November. A tapering announcement this week would likely put some downward pressure on oil and the broader commodities complex,” they noted.
“Last week the rally was halted at $76, the July 29 high, and more importantly it has raised the question whether current and improving fundamentals are strong enough to warrant a push above trendline resistance from the 2008 record peak, currently at $77,” Saxo Bank’s strategy team said in a Monday note.
“We don’t believe they are, therefore, leaving the market at risk of a short-term pull back, initially towards the 21-day moving average $72.75,” they added.
Why is natural gas so expensive right now?
Tim McDonnell, Quartz, September 20, 2021
The price of natural gas remained far above average in the US, UK, and Europe on Sept. 20, driving an energy crunch that has raised fears of looming winter blackouts, forced electricity retailers to beg for taxpayer bailouts, and stuck homeowners with unusually high bills.
At $5.06 per million British thermal units, natural gas futures in the US are 9% more expensive than on Sept. 1 and double their price at this time last year.
The basic reason for the global price spike is a shortfall in inventory just as temperatures begin to dip (gas is the main fuel for home heating in the US and Europe). Gas stockpiles in the US are at least 7% below average; in Europe they’re more than 20% below average. Norway has agreed to increase gas exports to Europe.
Several factors came together to drain natural gas supplies: A prolonged, cold winter in 2020 in both the US and Europe; low gas prices and general economic uncertainty during the pandemic that induced many drillers to idle production; Hurricane Ida in August, which temporarily knocked out gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico; low exports from Russia; fierce competition for shipments of liquefied natural gas with buyers willing to pay top dollar in Asia; and below-average electricity generation from hydropower dams in the western US and European wind farms, which forced grid operators to fill the gap with gas.
What high gas prices mean for companies
Seven retail electricity providers in the UK have already been forced out of business this year by high gas prices, as they’re forced by existing contracts and legal price caps to sell power to customers at a rate far below what they paid for it. On Sept. 20, the UK continued negotiations with Bulb and other leading providers about a potential bailout to prevent more companies from going bust—especially if they are forced to pick up new consumers that jump from foundering competitors.
Meanwhile, high gas prices are also a problem outside the electricity sector. The US fertilizer maker CF Industries Holdings, which uses natural gas as a key ingredient, closed two plants in the UK; a fertilizer shortfall could cause food prices to rise, as well as limit supplies of industrial CO2, a fertilizer byproduct that is used in carbonated beverages, slaughterhouses, and other food processing applications. Expensive gas also likely points to higher prices for plastics.
In a Sept. 20 research note, Bank of America analysts said they expect gas production to pick up in response to the higher prices and projected them to fall back toward $4 by the end of this year. But they warn that one severe winter storm could easily throw the market off balance yet again.
Solving the critical cobalt conundrum
Shane Lasley, North of 60 Mining News, September 16, 2021
A battery metal the EV sector cannot live with, or without Critical Minerals Alliances – September 2021
he envisioned green future where every North American is driving a battery-powered electric vehicle charged with renewable energy could be undermined by cobalt, a somewhat scarce and controversial metal that makes lithium-ion batteries better.
“Cobalt is considered the highest material supply chain risk for electric vehicles in the short and medium term,” the U.S. Department of Energy penned in an April report.
This risk has automakers, lithium-ion battery manufacturers, and government agencies investigating battery chemistries that reduce the amount of cobalt needed – a task that is not easy without sacrificing the safety and performance provided by this critical transition metal.
While the sector has made headway in reducing the amount of cobalt needed, the average 100-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, the size used to power a Tesla Model S or Model X, currently has roughly 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of cobalt, according to DOE.
Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a world-leading battery supply chain analyst, estimates that a 35 gigawatt-hour lithium-ion battery megafactory requires roughly 6,000 metric tons, or 6 million kg, of cobalt per year.
According to the United Kingdom-based firm’s June data, more than 200 megafactories are being built, or are in the pipeline to be built in the coming years.
With existing battery chemistries, these currently planned lithium-ion battery factories alone would need a staggering 651,000 metric tons of cobalt, which is 465% more than the 140,000 metric tons that the United States Geological Survey calculates was mined globally during 2020.
This projected massive growth in cobalt demand is further complicated by the fact that this battery ingredient is seldom mined as a standalone metal. Instead, it is typically produced as a byproduct at copper and nickel mines.
“This situation limits producers’ flexibility in adjusting the amount of cobalt mined in response to changes in demand and can result in periods of oversupply or shortage,” according to the USGS.
With rocketing demand driving the price of cobalt up to above US$24 per pound by late July, a nearly 40% increase over the $33,000/t at the onset of the year, the economics of recovering cobalt as a byproduct is becoming more intriguing for North American copper and nickel producers.
The climbing demand and price has also spurred the revival of a cobalt factory in Ontario, a Canadian province known for hosting deposits rich in silver and cobalt.
The cobalt conundrum
Beyond the expectation that the global mining sector will be challenged to keep pace with skyrocketing demand, another impetus to establish North American sources of cobalt is most of this increasingly important battery metal is currently mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country plagued with political and social issues.
Artisanal mining in DRC has captured headlines around the world due to the unsafe working conditions and human rights violations as men, women, and children hand-dig down into some of the richest sources of cobalt on Earth.
It is estimated that artisanal mines are the source of 10 to 20% of the cobalt coming out of DRC, a country that accounts for nearly 70% of the world’s supply of this controversial battery metal.
This creates a conundrum for EV and green energy companies that need cobalt for their batteries but do not want to be seen as contributing to the endangerment of children to lessen mankind’s carbon footprint.
Bending to pressure from human rights groups and socially conscious EV drivers, many electric automakers and lithium-ion battery manufacturers have sworn against sourcing their cobalt from DRC – especially artisanal mines.
TDI Sustainability, a global advisory firm, argues that turning a blind eye to DRC artisanal cobalt mining will only make matters worse for the people willing to put themselves and their families at risk to dig up enough of this important metal to survive.
“Presented with the option to not source from places considered high risk, most manufacturing companies would willingly opt out. But by doing so, the very people whose lives are most affected – for whom the risk is the greatest – can be left bereft of a livelihood: the very thing that sustains their families and communities,” wrote TDI team members Assheton Carter and David Sturmes.
To help support safe small-scale cobalt mining, TDI has teamed up with like-minded businesses and social impact awareness groups to form the Fair Cobalt Alliance, a group focused on making artisanal mining of cobalt and other minerals, safer and more productive.
This alliance boasts Glencore plc, the largest cobalt mining company in the world, Swedish luxury automaker Volvo, and Tesla amongst its members.
Transforming DRC’s artisanal mining to a force for good, however, would not completely resolve the cobalt stigma.
This is because roughly 80% of the global production of cobalt sulfate, the upgraded form of cobalt used in lithium-ion batteries, is produced in China.
The perception that cobalt could be tainted by DRC human rights abuses and lax environmental standards in China has automobile and battery manufacturers looking for solutions, including less cobalt-intensive recipes for cathodes.
Tesla, which delivered 499,550 EVs to customers and continued to dominate the field during 2020, is among the companies seeking lithium-ion battery chemistries that require less cobalt.
Eliminating cobalt from the lithium-ion battery recipe is akin to developing a gluten-free pizza crust – alternatives are available for those who absolutely cannot have gluten, but it is tough to develop a flourless recipe that has all the attributes that would make all pizza lovers want to eat the pie.
While other transition metals such as manganese, nickel, iron, and titanium are potential substitutes in a lithium-ion battery recipe, none can match cobalt when it comes to delivering high-voltage, energy density, and the movement of lithium ions.
“Moving away from high cobalt content means the new cathode materials must be optimized for all of these performance characteristics via subtle changes in the arrangement of the transition metals and their relative compositions,” DOE explained.
While government and industry efforts are expected to lower the percentage of cobalt going into each battery, this will not offset the massive volume of batteries to be produced over the coming years and decades. This has battery manufacturers, even those looking to eliminate cobalt from the battery mix, racing to the mines to ensure they have the socially and environmentally responsible supplies of this battery metal.
Early in 2019, Tesla cut a deal to buy cobalt from Glencore Plc, the world’s largest producer of this battery metal.
Samsung SDI, a South Korean lithium-ion battery manufacturer, also cut a deal for Glencore cobalt. Under the terms of this supply contract, Glencore will provide up to 21,000 metric tons of cobalt contained in cobalt hydroxide between 2020 and 2024.
In Europe, BMW Group secured a deal for 100 million euros ($119 million) worth of cobalt from Managem Group, a Moroccan mining company the German automaker selected for its sustainable and ethical mining practices.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk hinted that his EV company may form closer bonds with mining companies as it seeks to secure cobalt and other battery materials.
“We might get into the mining business. I don’t know,” Musk said. “We’ll do whatever we have to ensure that we can scale at the fastest rate possible.”
First Canadian cobalt
While not as rich as DRC, North America does have its own cobalt-enriched areas. This includes Ontario, which will soon be delivering the cobalt sulfate needed for the lithium-ion batteries being produced for EV manufacturers in the U.S. and Canada.
Looking to position itself at the front end of North American supply chains, the eastern Canada province recently unveiled plans to develop a critical minerals strategy to “generate investment, reduce red tape, create jobs, and advance Indigenous participation in the sector,” according to Ontario Minister of Energy, Mines and Northern Development Greg Rickford.
The metals-rich province has already made several key moves toward this strategy to feed critical minerals into low-carbon supply chains, including the establishment of the first and, as-of-now, sole primary cobalt refinery in North America.
Being developed by First Cobalt Corp., this rail-accessible refinery less than 400 miles away from Great Lakes manufacturing towns such as Detroit and Buffalo will be capable of producing 25,000 metric tons of battery-grade cobalt sulfate per year, which will go a long way toward filling North American requirements.
In January, First Cobalt inked an agreement with Glencore to supply enough cobalt hydroxide feed material for the refinery to produce 22,250 metric tons of the cobalt sulfate used in the cathodes of lithium-ion batteries, which represents about 90% of plant capacity.
Commissioning of the First Cobalt refinery is slated to begin late in 2022 and by 2023 is expected to account for 25% of the cobalt sulfate produced outside of China.
The First Cobalt refinery happens to lie in a region of Ontario renowned for its cobalt-enriched silver deposits.
First Cobalt, the company, owns more than 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres) of silver-cobalt exploration properties along the Ontario Cobalt Belt near its refinery, which could offer new sources of cobalt coming out of the critical minerals-enriched province.
“Industries across Ontario and around the world need a steady supply of critical minerals to support new technologies and emerging industries, including electric vehicles,” said Rickford.
First Cobalt project in Idaho
Despite its cobalt prospective lands in Ontario, First Cobalt is currently focusing its exploration efforts on the Iron Creek cobalt-copper project in Idaho, which hosts one of the few primary cobalt deposits in the world.
According to a 2019 calculation, Iron Creek hosts 2.2 million metric tons of indicated resource averaging 0.26% (12.3 million pounds) cobalt and 0.61% (29 million lb) copper; plus 2.7 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 0.22% (12.7 million lb) cobalt and 0.68% (40 million lb) copper.
With the goal of doubling the size of the resource, First Cobalt launched a C$2.5 million exploration program at Iron Creek in June.
“With our Canadian refinery expansion underway, we are turning our attention to our flagship mineral project in Idaho,” said First Cobalt President and CEO Trent Mell. “Drilling aims to extend the cobalt and copper mineralization at Iron Creek and test for new mineralization at nearby targets that could result in additional resources on the property.”
“Our vision in Idaho is to build a modern underground mine operation and mineral processing facility centered on the Iron Creek cobalt-copper deposit,” he added
To realize this vision, the company is working with experts at the Colorado School of Mines to develop innovative techniques for recovering the cobalt and copper from its Iron Creek.
This US$1.2 million research project is being equally co-funded by First Cobalt and DOE’s Critical Materials Institute.
“To have the support of the United States government to further a national strategy of developing a domestic supply of cobalt further reinforces the First Cobalt value proposition as North America’s only integrated supplier of battery materials for the electric vehicle industry,” said Mell.
On the northern horizon
In addition to Ontario and Idaho, several exploration projects in Canada and Alaska have the potential to offer cobalt as a coproduct of other metals that would be produced if a mine were to be developed.
One of the most intriguing of these deposits is at Fortune Minerals Ltd.’s Nico cobalt-gold-bismuth-copper project in Northwest Territories.
According to a 2020 plan, a mine at Nico and an associated refinery in a Canadian province such as Saskatchewan would produce an average of 1,800 metric tons of battery-grade cobalt sulfate; 1,700 metric tons of bismuth; 300 metric tons of copper; and 47,000 oz of gold annually over the first 14 years of mining.
This mix of critical, precious, and base metals may be an intriguing prospect for those wanting to see more cobalt mined and refined in North America.
Giga Metals Corp.’s Turnagain project in Northern British Columbia is another potential Canadian source of cobalt, along with the nickel also needed in lithium-ion batteries.
A preliminary economic assessment completed last October outlined plans for a mine at Turnagain that would produce an average of 33,215 metric tons of nickel and 1,962 metric tons of cobalt annually over a 37-year mine life.
One of the things that could make this project attractive to automotive and battery manufacturers is a unique characteristic of the ore that could result in a truly carbon-neutral source of the battery metals.
This is due to the fact that the tailings left behind after the nickel and cobalt are extracted are really good at absorbing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
“We now have empirical data that supports our ambition to build the world’s first true carbon-neutral nickel mine, meaning a project that achieves carbon neutrality without purchasing carbon credits,” said Giga Metals President Martin Vydra.
More information on Turnagain can be read at Miners answer Musk call for more nickel in the current edition of Critical Minerals Alliances.
In Alaska, a world-class copper deposit being advanced toward development by Ambler Metals, a joint venture owned equally by Trilogy Metals Inc. and South32 Ltd., has the potential to produce cobalt alongside the copper needed in vast quantities for EVs and renewable energy.
According to a calculation completed in 2018, Bornite hosts 6.4 billion lb of copper and 77 million lb of cobalt.
Metallurgical work shows promise that a cobalt concentrate could be produced at this world-class deposit in Northwest Alaska, which is a good indication that a future mine there could produce the battery metal as a byproduct.
While currently off-limits due to being locked up in a park, the Windy Craggy deposit in northwestern BC is considered among the richest stores of cobalt in North America.
Situated about 30 miles east of the Alaska border, Windy Craggy hosts an estimated 297.4 million metric tons of historical resource averaging 1.38% (9 billion lb) copper, 0.069% (452.5 million lb) cobalt, 0.2 g/t (1.9 million oz) gold, and 3.83 g/t (35.3 million oz) silver.
This adds up to roughly US$59 billion based on mid-2021 prices.
Bruce Downing, a geologist who has been involved with Windy Craggy since 1975, and Contango ORE Inc. President and CEO Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse believe that this rich project is worth a second look.
“Cobalt in particular is a metal absolutely critical in battery storage for electric vehicles as well as other storage applications. It has been deemed a Critical Metal by the USA and Canada. When combined with the fact that 65% of the world cobalt metal is sourced in the Congo – not a country known for its stability or transparency, but rather known for its abuse of child labor and human rights violations – is it not our responsibility to ask ourselves if we made a mistake locking up a high quality, North American source of cobalt that could be mined and processed with strict environmental standards and appropriate human rights and labor controls so that cobalt is ethically sourced?” they queried in a 2020 article published in Resource World and North of 60 Mining News.
North American governments, carmakers, and battery manufacturers are pondering similar questions as they march ahead with plans to transition to an e-mobility future – a future that will likely have some cobalt in the recipe.
Majority of voters say country is on the wrong track: poll
Tal Axlerod, The Hill, September 20, 2021
A majority of voters say the country is on the wrong track, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey released exclusively to The Hill.
The poll shows that 54 percent of registered voters say the country is heading in the wrong direction, while 41 percent say it’s on the right track. Six percent said they don’t know or are unsure.
That’s a stark difference from June, when 53 percent of voters said the country was on the right track.
The poll results come amid a slew of issues facing the nation.
The coronavirus, fueled by the delta variant, is still raging across the country, leading to increases in cases and deaths and fueling hospital staffing and bed crunches. Meanwhile, vaccination rates have failed to increase enough to stall the spike.
President Biden has sought to ramp up the fight against the virus by mandating businesses with more than 100 employees implement requirements for testing or vaccination, though that move has led to complaints of overreach from Republicans.
Fifty-two percent of registered voters approve of how Biden is responding to the pandemic, though that number has fallen from 63 percent in July.
The country is also reeling from the military withdrawal from Afghanistan. American citizens and Afghan allies remain in the country after the rapid takeover there by the Taliban caught the administration and military flat footed. A suicide bombing at the Kabul airport last month that killed 13 U.S. troops and injured scores of others led to broader criticism of the Biden administration.
The poll shows that 40 percent of registered voters “strongly disapprove” of the way the withdrawal last month was managed, and 19 percent “somewhat disapprove.” Only 17 percent “strongly approve,” and 24 percent “somewhat approve.”
On top of that, the economy’s recovery is moving forward slowly as the coronavirus prevents growth from intensifying. Fifty-three percent of registered voters said the economy is on the wrong track.
Democrats in the White House and Congress have sought to pass sweeping infrastructure and social spending bills to invest in various sectors and jump-start the economy, but opposition from Republicans and internal squabbling has thrust the process into uncertainty.
“Americans show growing concern about the virus, the economy, immigration, terrorism and crime. These crises were mounting before Afghanistan and now there is added worry about the leadership. It was a brief period Americans were feeling optimistic and that’s over,” said pollster Mark Penn.
The polling comes at a crucial time as the 2022 midterm cycle kicks into high gear after Labor Day. Democrats are trying to defend razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate.
The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey of 1,578 registered voters was conducted from Sept. 15 to 16. It is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and the Harris Poll.
The survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.
CLIMATE CHANGE :
Biden’s clean energy, net-zero goals ‘not feasible’ — report
David Iaconangelo, CLIMATWIRE, September 17, 2021
The United States’ energy sector probably won’t change fast enough to achieve the Biden administration’s “moonshot” goals to slash emissions from the electric grid and the nation’s economy, according to a new analysis from Wood Mackenzie.
The consultancy examined how clean energy markets are expected to evolve over the next decade and a half, and how far that shift would go in reaching President Biden’s plans to reach 100 percent clean power by 2035. It concluded that the U.S. would probably only manage to decarbonize about 66 percent of its electricity in the next 14 years, although cheap wind and solar would gain far more of the power sector.
The country would fall even shorter in meeting Biden’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, with about a quarter of the United States’ overall economy reaching the target, according to the analysis.
“Our conclusion is that it’s not feasible to reach a lot of these objectives outlined by the Biden administration,” said David Brown, a co-author of the analysis and head of markets and transitions research at Wood Mackenzie.
The analysis predicted that the U.S. would miss targets for a variety of reasons, including insufficient political will and financial backing, slower-than-needed technological progress, and a lack of long-distance transmission.
The findings run counter to arguments from climate activists who say that many of the obstacles to cutting emissions are chiefly political.
They also clash with those reached by other studies indicating that much higher levels of decarbonization are theoretically possible by 2035 or earlier.
A University of California, Berkeley, study published last year, for instance, found that the U.S. could reach 90 percent carbon-free power by 2035, without straining the grid or raising costs for electricity consumers (Energywire, June 10, 2020).A separate review of 11 recent power-sector studies, published last week by clean energy group Energy Innovation, found that 80 percent of electricity could be decarbonized by 2030 (Energywire, Sept. 9).
Chris Nelder, an energy transition expert and former carbon mobility researcher for clean energy organization RMI, dismissed the Wood Mackenzie findings.
“There is absolutely no way to project with any confidence” how the technology, policy, markets and politics of energy would evolve over the next 15 years, he wrote in an email to E&E News yesterday.
The consultancy’s modeling suffered from “severe restrictions and limitations and questionable assumptions,” he added. “I don’t buy it for a minute.”
Even if the Biden administration’s goals are not achieved, they are still likely to help cut emissions, according to Brown. “We see what’s been announced by the administration as a major step forward for the United States and global climate policy,” he said.
But the country is going to need energy technologies that are still emerging, he added.
Some of the key technologies include energy storage that can discharge clean power for several consecutive days, the report said. According to Wood Mackenzie, technology providing more than 10 to 15 hours of storage will not be cost-effective by 2035.
“There are some companies trying to do more and deliver it. But there’s a big difference between laboratory projects or pilot projects and scaling that to a national or regional solution,” said Brown.
Carbon capture systems, too, will have to be deployed en masse at natural gas plants to reach Biden’s targets, though it’s not clear they will be cheap or effective enough to do so, wrote the analysts. Interregional transmission, which can move clean electrons long distances, would take too long to build, the analysis said.
Politics also are standing between the U.S. and its goals for 2035 and 2050, wrote analysts.
Executive orders by Biden himself, like a conversion to 50 percent electric vehicle sales by 2030, could just as easily be rescinded under the next president, Brown pointed out.
Congress is contemplating passage of two big climate bills, but it’s not clear that it will have the stomach for the necessary levels of climate investments.
Through 2050, about $10 trillion in public and private funds will be necessary to hit net-zero emissions, according to Wood Mackenzie. To make the biggest splash, much of those funds should go toward three priority technologies: long-duration storage, carbon capture and direct air capture, and cross-state transmission, analysts wrote.
“Those are the three areas that we see as needing to do better,” said Brown. “There needs to be a new model to invest in them.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.