On the Grid: Action to Make Energy Affordable, Reliable, Secure, and Clean 11/04/22

On the Grid: Action to Make Energy Affordable, Reliable, Secure, and Clean 11/04/22

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The midterm elections and COP27 climate talks are just a few days away. We’ll have analysis on both, and what it means for clean energy and climate policy, in upcoming On the Grids. This week, however, we open with the energy issue in front of everyone’s (or at least every driver’s) eyes: gas prices. 

Americans remain very concerned about inflation and energy prices. On October 26, we released messaging guidance on how to talk about energy prices. This included important information on why there’s been such volatility, particularly in gas prices, and what the Biden Administration has done to bring prices down. Our own Josh Freed put together a brief tweet thread this week detailing the actions the Administration has taken and how it is focused on making energy affordable, secure, and reliable today and ensuring it becomes clean well before 2050.   

  • As Politico detailed, permits for oil and gas exploration are up 74% over the past two years under President Biden compared to the Trump Administration.
  • This is in keeping with the goal of the United States taking on petro-authoritarian states like Russia by ensuring access to all the energy Americans and our allies need today, and inventing and scaling the clean energy we must have. It’s the reason we’ve called for the US to become the Arsenal of Clean Energy.
  • This has been a key part of Rep. Tim Ryan’s campaign for Senate in Ohio. It’s worth reading Grid News’ recent article on how Rep. Ryan talks about energy.

Last week, Poland announced an agreement with US company Westinghouse to build the country’s first nuclear power plant. This is part of a trend in Eastern and Central Europe, where countries trying to increase energy security and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels from Russia and other authoritarian states are looking to American nuclear power plants. It reinforces the findings of our recently updated global advanced nuclear map that identifies countries we anticipate will want to build nuclear power plants over the next 30 years.

  • Westinghouse will build three AP1000 reactors in Poland, with construction set to begin in 2026, and is expected to reach 9GW capacity by 2040, cutting millions of tons of carbon emissions and supporting good-paying jobs in Poland. 
  • This announcement represents the start of a generations-long relationship and offers an opportunity to grow US-Polish cooperation on global energy security. To start, the US hopes to establish a regional energy training center in Poland to foster workforce training and help share American expertise and excellence in nuclear energy with our allies abroad. 

Poland was not the only country seeking to work with the US on civilian nuclear power. The US and Japan will collaborate to deploy small modular reactors in Ghana, reaffirming commitments to building global energy security through firm, clean nuclear energy. The US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) awarded a $14 million grant to RoPower, Nuclearelectrica’s SMR Project Company, to develop small modular reactors in Romania.

A landmark study backed by Third Way and Breakthrough Energy, found that the US can build a durable competitive advantage in six emerging clean energy technologies, estimated to have a combined market value of $2 trillion per year by 2050. But how can the government put the right policies in place that ensure US industries and workers get in on this enormous market? Let’s start with one piece of the puzzle: electric vehicles (EVs).

Alex Laska, Senior Policy Advisor for Transportation, and Dr. Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, Senior Resident Fellow and economist on the Climate and Energy Team, outline a suite of policy recommendations to position American EV industries for competitive leadership. Here are a few:

  1. Provide guidance to ensure tax credits are workable and build up supply chains to support EV manufacturing; 
  2. Expand federal RDD&D to expand EV battery technology and attract private investment;
  3. Continue to support American EV and battery manufacturing through grants, tax credits, and loan assistance programs;
  4. Streamline the permitting process to accelerate domestic raw material production while maintaining environmental protection;
  5. Build diplomatic ties to close supply chain gaps and strengthen international cooperation on software and cybersecurity; 
  6. Develop a robust and diverse EV workforce.

With the right policies, we can make a sizable dent in offsetting carbon emissions, generate a $1 trillion global EV market by 2050, and produce millions of jobs. Over the next few months, Third Way will release policy recommendations for the other five technologies assessed in the competitiveness report to make sure America is playing to its strengths.

  • Robinson Meyer, in the Atlantic, spells out what a Republican-held Congress means for the climate movement and the Biden Administration’s climate agenda, shining a light on the economic consequences of slowing down our clean energy transition. 
  • Dr. Katharine Mach and Dr. Galen Treuer, in the New York Times, make a case for rethinking our national strategy for extreme weather recovery through transformative adaptation, ensuring our communities are economically viable, inclusive, and resilient to climate-related extreme weather events. 
  • Zoya Teirstein, in Grist, writes on the difficulty of building interstate transmission lines in the United States and why that has serious implications for meeting our emissions goals. This makes permitting reform an urgent need. As John Larsen of Rhodium Group said, “We’re 28 years away from 2050. The longer we wait the less it’ll help.”

The clean energy policy conversation is expanding…and so are we! The Climate and Energy Program is looking for people with talent and a passion for climate solutions to fill two new roles on our team. If you’ve got anyone in your mental Rolodex who you think might be a fit, please send them our way. And if you wanted to circulate these job postings more broadly with your networks, we wouldn’t mind that either!

Deputy Director: This person will directly supervise 3-4 policy experts working in fields that could include clean energy innovation, industrial decarbonization, and carbon management. They’ll guide these direct reports in developing policy and advocacy strategies that ensure US energy is clean, reliable, affordable, and secure. This person will contribute to program-wide strategy and represent Third Way in public events, coalitions, and high-level meetings. Our ideal candidate will have 5+ years of energy policy experience and experience managing staff.

Policy Advisor for Innovation: This team member will take the lead on our cross-cutting efforts in clean energy innovation. That includes working on implementation of demonstration, financing, and other DOE programs; developing recommendations to advance energy innovation across federal agencies; and building support for RD&D funding priorities. Our ideal candidate will have 3+ years of experience in a relevant field. Job responsibilities can be scaled for candidates with exceptional qualifications.

Multimedia Designer: As part of the communications team, the Multimedia Designer will manage the program's visual brand and amplify the program's initiatives by delivering compelling designs and data visualizations for reports, events, social media, videos, and presentations. The ideal candidate will have 3+ years of experience in graphic or multimedia design.

Executive Coordinator: This individual will support Climate and Energy Program directors with administrative and logistical tasks and occasionally with communications, light research, proofreading, and coordinating product distribution. The ideal candidate would have at least 1 year of work experience, including relevant internships.

Third Way’s Climate and Energy Program lays out how clean energy can meaningfully drive down energy costs for Americans.


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