Geothermal 2.0, offshore wind, and ‘Bidenomics’ — This Week in Cleantech

Geothermal 2.0, offshore wind, and ‘Bidenomics’ — This Week in Cleantech
Fervo Energy's full-scale commercial pilot, Project Red, in northern Nevada. (Courtesy: Fervo Energy)

This Week in Cleantech is a new, weekly podcast covering the most impactful stories in cleantech and climate in 15 minutes or less. Produced by Renewable Energy World and Tigercomm, This Week in Cleantech will air every Friday in the Factor This! podcast feed wherever you get your podcasts.

This Week in Cleantech – July 21, 2023

1. How Biden’s climate law will — and won’t — transform America – The Washington Post

President Joe Biden aims to prove that you can run a successful campaign on a climate and clean energy agenda. The administration is rolling out a “Bidenomics” blitz that focuses on economic and environmental benefits from two landmark pieces of legislation, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.

A new report from Rhodium Group aimed to characterize what the Inflation Reduction Act will, and won’t, do. Some of the key takeaways:

1. Clean energy will get much cheaper. Solar LCOE to drop 38% compared w/ no IRA. Wind 55% drop
2. The Inflation Reduction Act will have a more limited effect on industry, which is expected to overtake transportation as the country’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions by 2035
3. State climate action will be key – IRA only gets us to 29 and 42% emissions reduction by 2030 from 2005 levels.

2. US announces first offshore wind rights sale in Gulf of Mexico – Reuters

The U.S. Dept. of the Interior announced it will hold the first-ever offshore wind energy lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 29. The areas to be auctioned by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management have the potential to generate approximately 3.7 GW and power almost 1.3 million homes with clean, renewable energy, the agency said.

While an important step, that’s just the beginning of a long (and expensive) process to deploy offshore wind. In the Northeast, several of the country’s first offshore wind projects have been hampered by macroeconomic headwinds like inflation and interest rates, leading some developers and utilities to back out of long-term power purchase agreements.

3. Conservation concerns mean some environmentalists say no to solar projects – NPR

Amherst, Massachusetts is writing its bylaws for where and how to locate solar projects in the town, and McGowan, a mediator and lawyer who is on the working group to help write those bylaws, has concerns. McGowan says she isn’t anti-solar, but like many other residents, she worries about the town’s farmland and forests getting converted into solar projects. Steven Roof, a professor of earth and environmental science at Hampshire College, has another worry. He worries that local fears about conserving farms and forests could lead Amherst to enact overly restrictive regulations that limit the town’s role in tackling climate change.

4. New Land Grab by Oil Giants Is Deep Underground – WSJ

Big oil companies are bidding for leases to store CO2 underground in places with the right geology for “carbon sequestration.” They’ve already leased or are proposing to lease around 480,000 acres of land for CO2 storage in Texas and Louisiana. But it’s pretty new – only four CO2 injection wells have been issued permits now in the U.S., although nearly 100 are under review. Many companies are responding to federal tax credits passed last year.

5. Enhanced geothermal power is finally a reality – Volts

Enhanced geothermal startup Fervo Energy is claiming a breakthrough at its first full-scale commercial project in northern Nevada. Fervo completed a 30-day well test, standard for geothermal, achieving a flowrate of 63 liters per second at a high temperature that enables 3.5 MW of electricity production. Fervo uses horizontal drilling technology and multi-stage well completion developed by the oil and gas industry to drastically expand the geographies capable of supporting geothermal power production, which can serve our clean energy goals 24/7.

David Roberts, author of the Volts newsletter and a podcast by the same name, joined This Week in Cleantech to break down his upcoming interview with Fervo Energy CEO Tim Latimer.

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This Week in Cleantech is hosted by Renewable Energy World senior content director John Engel and Tigercomm president Mike Casey. The show is produced by Brian Mendes with research support from Alex Petersen and Clare Quirin.