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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

USA on the climate offensive: Biden presents a major initiative

With more money and another agency, the new US president wants to advance research on technologies with lower CO2 emissions.

The new US administration under President Joe Biden unveiled its third major climate initiative this month. It contains various measures for faster innovation in clean energy and air conditioning.

Among other things, the White House has set up a working group to help set up the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Climate (ARPA-C), which Biden had promised during his election campaign . Your mission will be to ensure faster progress in technically difficult areas. This should include techniques for capturing, removing and storing carbon dioxide, as well as products for heating and cooling that do not use greenhouse gases that have a strong impact on the climate.

In addition, the US Department of Energy plans to provide 100 million US dollars for low-carbon projects in the energy sector, controlled by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The agency was founded by the Obama administration with a mandate to support clean energy technologies that are not yet advanced enough to be used to start businesses or attract commercial venture capital.

A new agency

With this measure, one of the favorite targets of the superseded administration of Donald Trump could be revived. In the past four years she had tried several times to withdraw funding from ARPA-E. However, this was prevented by Congress, which kept their budget stable or even increased it slightly. More government funding for research and development could ensure that the costs of clean technologies are driven down. This makes it cheaper and more politically realistic to tackle increasing climate risks in the US and beyond.

However, some experts expressed their surprise that the government is spending political capital to set up and finance a new research agency instead of just better funding existing programs. It took years before Congress approved the first allocations for ARPA-E . The agency was authorized under George W. Bush, but received no money before Obama enforced the Recovery Act in 2009. In addition, it is not yet really clear what the demarcation between the two ARPAs should look like.

The focus of ARPA-E is on “transformative technologies with low carbon dioxide intensity”. ARPA-C, on the other hand, is likely to address a wider range of climate-related tools. In any case, the energy plan that Biden announced during the election campaign speaks for this .

Reduce CO 2 in the atmosphere

It is expected that the focus will be on capturing, removing and storing carbon dioxide – which in turn promises controversy. Such techniques include systems that prevent greenhouse gases from leaving power plants and factories, as well as tools for removing them directly from the atmosphere; Agricultural methods in which more CO2 is absorbed and stored in the soil are also possible. ARPA-E has also invested in such technologies .

On the other hand, there is concern that such developments could extend the lifespan of the fossil fuel industries. But they could show ways in which emissions from sectors for which there are no affordable or scalable green alternatives can be prevented or offset, such as steel, cement, aviation or agriculture. In addition, the techniques could make a decisive contribution to reducing the concentration of CO 2 that has already been emitted to reducing in the atmosphere.

Either way, the Biden government says it wants to provide more funds for other areas as well. Cheaper energy storage systems, clean vehicles and transport with lower costs, sustainable fuels for planes and ships, carbon dioxide-neutral building materials as well as clean and cheap hydrogen, which can be used as fuel and is required in some industrial processes, are mentioned.

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