EFI's Julio Friedmann Talks Carbon Capture Challenges with the Breakthrough Institute

 Julio Friedmann chats with Emma Brush, Managing Editor at the Breakthrough Institute and Alex Trembath, Communications Director at Breakthrough.

Julio Friedmann chats with Emma Brush, Managing Editor at the Breakthrough Institute and Alex Trembath, Communications Director at Breakthrough.

EFI Distinguished Associate Julio Friedmann appeared on the Breakthrough Institute’s podcast Breakthrough Dialogues to outline the challenges of CCS (carbon capture and storage) technologies. “We are all on the clock and winning slowly is the same as losing,” he said.  “If we want to go after carbon emissions then regulating carbon is the most obvious thing to do.”

Listen to Julio’s conversation here 



Moniz on Attending Vatican Climate Dialogue

On June 7-9, the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development hosted a dialogue, “The Energy Transition and Care for Our Common Home.”

The event, sponsored by the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, convened leaders in the oil and gas, renewable energy, and global investment sectors. Former U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz, the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems emeritus, participated in the dialogue at the Vatican and had the opportunity to meet with Pope Francis.

After the event, Moniz spoke with the MIT Energy Initiative — which he founded in 2006 as its inaugural director — on a few of the main themes and takeaways from the meeting.


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Brazil: Growth of US jobs in energy surpasses national growth rate

Economy / The US energy sector employed 6.5 million workers by 2017, an increase of 133,000 jobs over the previous year, according to the US Energy & Employment Report (USEER) , which has just been released by the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO). Half of them - 67,000 - were created by energy efficiency companies.

The growth rate of energy jobs was 2%, slightly above the national average of 1.7%. But this growth scenario is not accompanied by supply: more than two out of three companies heard (70%) reported difficulties in hiring skilled workers in the last 12 months. For 2018, the companies participating in the survey anticipated a 6.1% increase in employment, excluding the motor vehicle sector, indicating that the demand for skilled labor will remain warm.

The report looked at four sectors of the US energy industry: electric power generation and fuels; transmission, distribution and storage; energy efficiency; and motor vehicles. Jobs in the energy sector accounted for almost 7% of all new jobs across the country in 2017. 

Jobs in natural gas electricity generation have continued to grow, adding more than 19,000 new jobs as natural gas continues to rise to the number one fuel point for US electricity generation. Solar energy companies have employed totally or partially 350,000 people by 2017. This represents a reduction of 24,000 solar jobs by 2017 - the first net loss of jobs since solar jobs were compiled for the first time in 2010. 

The USEER, and its appendix providing statistical details for all 50 states, are available for download at www.USEenergyjobs.org .


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EFI Policy Paper: How the 45Q Credit May Spur Carbon Capture Innovation

WASHINGTON (May 23, 2018) -- The Energy Futures Initiative (EFI), the nonprofit think tank established by former Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz, today released a report on how the expansion of the 45Q tax credit can potentially encourage the use and development of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies. The report offers recommendations on what policymakers must still do to maximize innovation in carbon capture in the ongoing effort to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and build a low-carbon energy economy.               

The 45Q tax credit, part of the Bipartisan Budget Act passed in February, was supported by a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in Congress. In the Senate, the bill was sponsored by Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), John Barrasso (R-WY) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). In the House, Congressman Mike Conaway, Republican of the 11th Congressional District in Texas, led a coalition of 44 members from both parties backing to tax credit.

                ``The new tax provisions, while important and generous, are just a start,’’ said Dr. S. Julio Friedmann, an expert on carbon capture technologies who was the lead author of the EFI report. ``Our report identifies gaps that may limit deployment, and discusses the comprehensive measures that could maximize opportunity, which includes encouraging more robust investment and innovation.’’

Among the report’s findings:

  • The 45Q tax provisions represent a major policy action to reduce CO2 emissions from power and industrial sources.
  • The EFI report predicts that the fastest and largest uptake will be at industrial facilities with pure CO2 sources, like ethanol plants, refineries, and ammonia producers.
  • That there is still a need for a more comprehensive set of new policies to achieve broader deployment of CCUS in the US, especially in the power sector.
  • Overall, the extension of 45Q will spur CCS deployment that in turn will help communities, create jobs, stimulate investment and help maintain US competitiveness and innovation.

Editor’s Note: In the section ``Regulation and Permitting’’ on page 19, a passage of text regarding monitoring, reporting and verification requirements was transposed. The text was corrected on May 23 and the report was reposted, with footnote 73 noting the change.  

Download the full report


Sen. Maria Cantwell's Remarks at the U.S. Energy Jobs Report Launch

I want to thank the Energy Futures Initiative and National Association of State Energy Office for their help with this critical report. We are here because we know the energy sector is the third largest in the United States and is continuing to grow. We know that there are ever increasing technologies that are related to both renewables and energy efficiency that make our cars, our homes, our buildings, and even us, smarter and it all drives down costs to both consumers and businesses. 

So that is a great phenomenon, but it is also happening at the same time as another phenomenon and that is an aging energy workforce. The average age of a utility worker is 47 years old and about 47% of all transmission distribution workers will be eligible to retire in the next several years.  We know that we need to train and skill the next generation of energy workers. Our nation is embarking on one of the greatest economic opportunities, and that is a clean, efficient energy economy. I can tell you, as someone who comes from a state that has produced three to four cents per kilowatt hour rates; it continues to drive our economy over and over again. 

At the opening of our National Nordic Museum in Ballard, Washington, attended by the President of Iceland, I said, “who would have thought that you and I would be sitting here talking about Bitcoin lending and taxation for the state of Washington and Iceland?” We can compete for low prices, so we both have been taken over by that sector. 

Consumers and businesses, we know, will demand new services and new technologies along with low carbon solutions. I can’t tell you how much this is playing out in the state of Washington where every company, whether it’s Microsoft or Amazon or Google, is looking to distinguish themselves with the energy mix that they purchase. To say to their consumers that their portfolio is made up of no or low carbon energy solutions. 

We want to continue ensuring the United States is a leader in developing these [energy] technologies and in training a workforce that will help us deliver on them. One of the sectors examined by the U.S. Energy and Employment Report is energy efficiency, which already employs millions of Americans and is predicated to grow. 

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Moniz to Introduce the 2018 U.S. Jobs Report on Capitol Hill

Washington (May 10, 2018) -- On May 16, 2018, The Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), will publicly release the 2018 U.S. Energy & Employment Report (USEER). This is the third installment of the energy jobs survey established by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2016, which offers data on employment trends in four key energy sectors. 

The 1-hour presentation will be held in the Senate Visitors Center, Room 212-10, at 10 a.m. Eastern time. (To view the livestream click here.) Please note that attendees must be on the visitors list to gain entry to the event. Please email Tessa Browne at or call 202-688-0010 to be placed on the guest list. 

The 2018 USEER will be presented by former Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz, President and CEO of EFI. He will be joined by David Terry, Executive Director of NASEO, and David Foster, the author of the report. The event will be livestreamed on the NASEO and EFI websites (www.energyfuturesinitiative.orgwww.naseo.org).

“The USEER has proven to be an important tool for state energy officials, who will use this unique set of `all of the above’ energy jobs data to inform policy development and planning,’’ said David Terry of NASEO.

The USEER and its State appendix will be available for download at from 10 a.m. Eastern time on May 16. It will also be available on the NASEO and EFI websites. 

Read full release here

Moniz & McLarty: 5 Ways to Modernize NAFTA by Focusing on Energy

EFI CEO Ernest J. Moniz teamed up with Thomas F. ''Mack'' McLarty III for an opinion piece in the Dallas Morning News on the importance of keeping energy at the forefront of the NAFTA renegotiations:

Surrounded by roaring crowds at his rallies, candidate Donald Trump assailed multilateral agreements and threatened to rip up NAFTA, characterizing it as "the worst trade deal ever." Indeed, Trump's suspicion of trade dates back to the 1980s when he first began to engage on the issue.

As president, he continues to be suspicious. On day three of his presidency, he withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (although he may be having second thoughts) and more recently slapped harsh tariffs on steel and aluminum imports — sparing Mexico and Canada only for now.

Despite the push to achieve an "agreement in principle" on the North American Free Trade Agreement for last week's Summit of the Americas, the temptation to withdraw remains. In a recent cabinet meeting, the president told reporters, "We are fairly close on NAFTA and if we don't make the right deal, we'll terminate NAFTA and we'll make the right deal after that."

We each learned firsthand that achieving international accords is never easy. As chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, one of us helped pass NAFTA 25 years ago. As secretary of energy under President Barack Obama, the other worked to deepen trilateral energy integration, frequently engaging our neighbors to the north and south on a wide range of energy issues.

We are confident that it's possible to reach the modernized NAFTA that the president promised, building on its foundations and expanding fair and reciprocal trade, with energy at the heart of these efforts.

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Kenderdine & Jermain in The Hill: US Power Grid Needs Defense Against Looming Cyber Attacks

A recent poll showed that more than 90 percent of Americans believe the government is not doing enough to protect the electric grid from cybersecurity attacks. Their fears appear to be justified.

This month, the U.S. government revealed its concerns about Russian incursions into the operating systems of domestic electric power plants and noted that the efforts to disrupt date back to 2013. These attacks have the capability to bring down all or part of our electricity service.

Such large-scale grid cyberattacks were foreseen.

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EFI Report: How DOE's Loan Programs Can Help Rebuild U.S. Energy Infrastructure

The Energy Futures Initiative, Inc. (EFI), a not-for-profit dedicated to driving innovation in energy technology, policy and business models, today issued “Leveraging the DOE Loan Programs,” a report on how the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office could deploy nearly $40 billion in available credit authority to help rebuild critical U.S. energy infrastructure.

The report team, led by former Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz, notes the Department’s Loan Programs Office (LPO), authorized by Congress in 2005 with broad bipartisan backing, has so far leveraged $50 billion in investments in commercial projects that deploy innovative energy technologies. The report notes that with appropriate partnership arrangements, the $39 billion of remaining credit support authority could attract as much as $100 billion in innovative energy infrastructure improvements.

The LPO portfolio has a default rate of just over two percent and a record of accelerated repayments, providing the impetus for utility-scale solar generation and for re-tooling and reviving advanced auto manufacturing plants in eight states from Tennessee and Kentucky to the upper Midwest and California. “This success rate translates into new businesses, good jobs and a more competitive economy,” said Melanie Kenderdine, former Director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis.

Despite these achievements and potential further investment opportunities, the Trump Administration has proposed discontinuing the programs, contending that only “early stage” R&D should be federally supported. Yet, as the report notes, initial deployment of energy technology at scale has significant market barriers and that private-public partnerships such as those in the LPO portfolio are important to the overall innovation system, providing critical performance data to companies, investors, and policymakers.

EFI’s analysis notes that loan programs could be an important vehicle for supporting the Administration’s proposed Transformative Projects Program (TPP), which aims to provide backing for projects that can dramatically improve the Nation’s infrastructure.

“As a grant program, the TPP would require funding outlays that could increase the deficit,’’ said Joseph S. Hezir, a principal at EFI and the former CFO of the Department of Energy from 2013 to 2017. “Pairing the objectives of the Trump Administration with the existing authorities of the LPO could significantly reduce the costs of critical infrastructure projects.” 

Read the full report.

New Orleans City Council pursues 'smart city' strategy following briefing from Moniz

Taking cues from other U.S. cities that have dabbled in “smart” technology, a City Council committee agreed Wednesday to explore whether New Orleans could support the kind of data collection that would inform its decisions on energy, public safety and transit.

The council’s Utility Committee unanimously passed a resolution asking its legal and technical advisers to examine what technologies could be deployed locally and at what cost.

Officials said the effort could involve everything from gunshot sensors that would help police locate crime sites to crowd-control technology that would direct traffic at major city events.

The committee also urged Entergy New Orleans, the city’s electricity utility, to detail within two months new ways to modernize its grid. That effort has already begun, with Entergy proposing to install "smart meters" that customers can use to gauge and price their electricity use by 2021.

The committee voted after a panel of experts, including former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, briefed the members on the benefits of the move.

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Former Paris negotiator, regulators join Moniz group

A top negotiator of the Paris climate accord and a former Democratic senator from North Dakota, as well as former federal regulators, are among the newest members of former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz's research think tank and advisory firm.

The Energy Futures Initiative's global advisory board added 10 members, including Laurence Tubiana, a French economist, diplomat and key negotiator of the Paris climate pact.

New members also include former Sen. Byron Dorgan and Colette Honorable, who served as a Democratic member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and is now a partner at the law firm Reed Smith LLP.

Moniz launched the group last summer with former Department of Energy officials Melanie Kenderdine and Joseph Hezir to make a compelling case for low-carbon power and energy innovation. The think tank's board of advisers is led by John Browne, executive chairman of L1 Energy, a global investment firm, and former CEO of BP PLC.


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Utility Dive Brief: Secretary Moniz Weighs in on FERC Ruling

Secretary Moniz discusses the recent FERC ruling on the DOE NOPR with Utility Dive. In particular, he notes that the DOE NOPR did not present sufficient information, nor did it necessarily provide a public good. Secretary Moniz goes on to discuss the importance of state and federal energy policies that are technology-neutral and aim for particular public goods, such as zero-emissions.