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Update: Former US energy chief Moniz outlines top climate investment priorities

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Former United States Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Muniz presented on November 8 his top three priorities for investing in clean energy during Episode of Live Market Intelligence.

Muniz made the remarks as climate negotiations met in Glasgow, Scotland, and countries such as the US are pushing for global greenhouse gas emissions to set climate targets in line with a warming scenario of 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

Muniz noted that the climate commitments announced at the UN-led crucial climate conference will substantially reduce the type of post-industrial temperature rise that scientists have long warned. The professor, who has a deep background in energy technology and is Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Climatic thinking can seek to allocate capital as the energy transition continues.

Stable force

“Obviously wind and sun, which are changing, are going to play very important roles,” Muniz said during the interview. “But I think there is now an understanding that a person also needs a strong force on a scale.”

Muniz said technologies that allow existing power plants to capture and store their carbon emissions could represent a single opportunity. Another is facilities capable of storing seasonal energy over time.

“I don’t mean eight hours versus two hours,” Muniz said. “I mean days, weeks, and maybe even seasons.”

Green hydrogen can play such a role in gas production, Muniz said, “which can address the energy needs of many different industrial sectors.”

Nuclear carbon capture

Muniz also highlighted the latest innovation in nuclear technology, saying that “we have had more innovation in the last decade than ever before.” 4th-generation reactors, which include high-temperature gas reactors and molten salt reactors, “have many very attractive characteristics,” he said. But he admitted that technology costs should go down.

Nuclear fusion, a form of long-term and sustainable energy that largely prevents radioactive waste problems, has also come a long way in recent years, Muniz said. “I fully expect the scientific case of fusion to be addressed in this decade,” Muniz said. “It’s not the same as engineered factories, but I’m pretty sure the answer would be yes.”

Also, “absolutely essential,” according to Muniz, is finding ways to “remove previous-generation carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and the upper levels of the ocean.

The UN estimates for a warming scenario of 1.5 degrees Celsius assume a massive deployment of technologies such as direct air capture, which sucks CO2 from the air and stores it underground.

“Direct air capture is the most talked about, but there are many other approaches including what we call technology-enhanced natural solutions,” Muniz said. These include accelerated mineralization for CO2 absorption, he said.

EPA

Muniz also considered the U.S. Supreme Court’s latest decision to review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions power plants under the Clean Air Act.

The Supreme Court is in the midst of examining legal challenges brought by coal-producing countries and coal companies, seeking an answer to the question of how far the agency can go in regulating electric generators under a vague written law.

“EPA regulation in the field of electricity is absolutely critical to the deep carbon type of electricity the president mentioned,” Muniz said.

US President Joe Biden aims to completely neutralize the country’s electricity sector by 2035.

Watch a rerun of the YouTube interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTdnTKmaLy4

To read all of our coverage of COP26, Click here.

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