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1) Net-Zero Game Changers Initiative

The White House announced a new report that identifies five initial priorities that will help enable the United States to meet the President’s goal of cutting greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 50-52% in 2030 and get to net-zero emissions by no later than 2050. To drive innovation of these technologies, the Administration is also launching the Net-Zero Game Changers Initiative today.  

The Net-Zero Game Changers Initiative accelerates game-changing climate innovations helping the United States meet the President’s goal to reach net-zero emissions by no later than 2050. To launch the initiative, the White House Climate Policy Office, Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Office of Management and Budget are jointly releasing a new report, U.S. Innovation to Meet 2050 Climate Goals, which describes 37 game-changing R&D opportunities identified across Federal agencies. The priorities include opportunities for near-term wins, investments in underserved communities through the Justice40 initiative, and long-term transformation of the energy system. The Administration will jump-start clean energy innovation with five near-term priorities:

Efficient Building Heating and Cooling: Building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) is responsible for more than half of residential building energy use and nearly a fifth of commercial building energy use. While buildings in the United States have become more efficient in recent years, most existing heating and cooling equipment is still inefficient and uses climate-warming refrigerants, which hurts consumers and contributes to climate change. Innovative technologies such as highly efficient heat pumps and advanced refrigerants could address many issues simultaneously. In addition to GHG reductions, the benefits of successful innovation for efficient heating and cooling include significantly reducing indoor air pollution, tripling or quadrupling energy efficiency, bolstering domestic manufacturing, supporting good paying jobs in our communities, promoting national and energy security, and lowering household energy bills. Further innovation — paired with the financial incentives in President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act — will help reduce upfront costs of these appliances and make the clean option the easiest option.

Net-Zero Aviation: Greenhouse gas emissions from air travel are expected to grow in the United States and around the world. At the same time, aviation — particularly long-distance travel — is one of the most difficult sectors for emissions reductions today. There are several options for cleaner aviation, including new carbon-neutral fuels, advanced biofuels, and electrification (including battery electric and fuel cell electric concepts). The U.S. public and private sectors are also exploring entirely new concepts for air travel, such as small electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. Innovation will make zero-emission fuels and vehicles cost-competitive with today’s aviation, while reducing the aviation industry’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Net-Zero Power Grid and Electrification: The original U.S. electricity grid was not designed for today’s requirements, including supporting widespread electrification of vehicles, new appliances, and industrial processes; deploying widespread renewables; and withstanding the impacts of climate-induced extreme weather. To ensure the availability of clean, affordable, and reliable electricity while rapidly electrifying new parts of the economy to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, we need to fundamentally transform the planning and operations of distribution and transmission grids by 2050. The grid of the future must be able to sense and adapt to changing electricity demand and external factors in real time, all while we decarbonize and expand the grid’s total capacity. Besides enabling electrification and integration of clean power sources, these innovations will also reduce the total cost of reaching net-zero emissions across the economy and increase grid resilience.

Industrial Products and Fuels for a Net-Zero, Circular Economy:  Industrial processes represent some of the most challenging obstacles to reaching net-zero by 2050. This priority area focuses on new ways to make materials and fuels that reduce GHGs, increase efficiency, and cut waste. It includes solutions for reducing GHGs and increasing efficiency of industrial process heating, material production (such as metals, cement, plastic, and chemicals), and water treatment processes. It also includes pathways for producing net-zero electrofuels — synthetic fuels made from clean electricity — which could be used as energy-dense transportation fuels. Advanced industrial processes also include the systems and technological innovations needed for energy-intensive water treatment processes such as desalination and wastewater treatment. Producing all of these materials and fuels in a net-zero economy will require developing innovative chemistries, strengthening supply chains, and designing processes and products to deliver the same or better services for people with recycling and re-use in mind.

Fusion Energy at Scale: Fusion, the same process that powers the sun and stars, has the potential to transform the energy system. It could provide abundant clean, reliable electricity anywhere in the United States or around the world, and could create a whole new industry and associated workforce. Fusion could potentially meet a large fraction of electricity demand and help eliminate GHG emissions from energy-intensive industrial processes, synthetic fuel production, and desalination. For these reasons, it could have impacts far beyond electricity generation. Because it relies on abundant, clean fuel sources, it can benefit national security and improve air quality in areas historically burdened by fossil generation.

Report: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/U.S.-Innovation-to-Meet-2050-Climate-Goals.pdf
Fact Sheet: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/11/04/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration-makes-historic-investment-in-americas-national-labs-announces-net-zero-game-changers-initiative/

2) OSTP blog: Raising Ambition for a Rapid and Just Net-Zero Transition with Game-Changing Innovations
 
 On November 4, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the Net-Zero Game Changers Initiative, led by OSTP, the White House Climate Policy Office, and the Office of Management and Budget. The Initiative is a historic whole-of-government effort to develop clean energy technologies that will get us to net-zero by 2050 while ensuring these innovations provide transformational benefits to all Americans. At COP27, OSTP’s Sally Benson discussed the Net-Zero Game Changers Initiative – including the need for systems thinking and considering multiple objectives when advancing new technologies – on a panel titled Science Advice for a Successful Energy Transition.
 
Through the Net-Zero Game Changers Initiative, the Biden-Harris Administration developed the first multi-objective framework to guide U.S. Federal net-zero technology priorities. In identifying the game-changing technologies that can help reach net-zero faster, the early stage of development of these technologies provides a unique opportunity to be intentional and inclusive to achieve multiple objectives. When selecting technologies to prioritize, we also considered potential benefits and challenges related to the environment, equity and justice, the economy, and security and reliability. Considering these outcomes early in the development cycle can guide the creation of a robust portfolio of climate solutions that have the broad support needed to sustain the energy transition.

Assessing technologies across all of the objectives above provides a comprehensive picture of what is at stake and where we can make major advances now. In our new report on U.S. Innovation to Meet 2050 Climate Goals, we characterized game-changing net-zero technologies across economic sectors as Transformational, Broad, or Targeted, based on their prospective impacts across multiple objectives as described below.
Transformational Impact: These innovations have the largest system-wide benefits and can lead to major advances in emissions reductions, environmental quality, justice and equity, economic opportunities, and security and reliability.
Broad Impact: These innovations have benefits for one or more sectors of the economy and can lead to advances in several objectives.
Targeted Impact: These innovations have benefits for specific subsectors of the economy.

This categorization does not imply that broad and targeted technologies are less important for the energy transition than transformational technologies. Rather, they fulfill an important but more limited role in meeting our climate goals. The urgency of the climate crisis requires a full portfolio of solutions to ensure success.

This analysis helped inform the Biden-Harris Administration’s selection of five initial focus areas to jump-start the Net-Zero Game Changers Initiative:

Low-GHG building heating and cooling;
Net-zero aviation;
Net-zero power grid and electrification;
Industrial products and fuels for a net-zero, circular economy; and
Fusion energy.
With inclusive and intentional innovation, these initial five priorities can help propel the United States and countries around the world towards an affordable, equitable, net-zero energy system. Addressing the climate crisis requires not only implementing the commitments and goals the United States and countries around the world have already made, but raising our collective ambition on climate action. Over the next three decades, innovation can create entire new industries and rebuild energy systems in ways that achieve multiple societal goals – such as reducing environmental harm, promoting energy justice, creating good-paying jobs, and strengthening energy security. Using a multi-objective evaluation framework – like the one used here – can maximize the benefits of public and private sector investments in new energy technologies and promote durable support for the energy transition.

This analysis helped inform the Biden-Harris Administration’s selection of five initial focus areas to jump-start the Net-Zero Game Changers Initiative:

Low-GHG building heating and cooling;
Net-zero aviation;
Net-zero power grid and electrification;
Industrial products and fuels for a net-zero, circular economy; and
Fusion energy.

With inclusive and intentional innovation, these initial five priorities can help propel the United States and countries around the world towards an affordable, equitable, net-zero energy system. Addressing the climate crisis requires not only implementing the commitments and goals the United States and countries around the world have already made, but raising our collective ambition on climate action. Over the next three decades, innovation can create entire new industries and rebuild energy systems in ways that achieve multiple societal goals – such as reducing environmental harm, promoting energy justice, creating good-paying jobs, and strengthening energy security. Using a multi-objective evaluation framework – like the one used here – can maximize the benefits of public and private sector investments in new energy technologies and promote durable support for the energy transition.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/ostp/news-updates/2022/11/18/raising-ambition-for-a-rapid-and-just-net-zero-transition-with-game-changing-innovations/

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