(Warning/TLDR : You can’t fix the DOE in 1000 words)

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Apparently, some corner of the Twitterverse has nominated me to be energy secretary. As an Australian who is not yet a naturalized citizen, I’m not eligible (I’d be 15th in line to the presidency, so no go), but it’s worth running the thought experiment of what I would do if I ran the DOE — only in this experiment, the world will be perfect and sweeping change won’t be prevented at every turn by a bad Senate set-up. …


How to rewire America to promote equity and create new jobs

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Our study shows that switching to clean energy backed by renewables in the U.S. will create 25 million new jobs, most of which can’t be out-sourced.

Sadly, due to the pandemic, we now have the highest unemployment we’ve seen since the Great Depression. Many of those jobs will disappear forever in the post-Covid world, and others will take years to return to normal. But with great crises come great opportunities. Today we have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to solve our current economic crisis: by switching to clean energy.

At Rewiring America, we’ve released a report, “Mobilizing for a zero-carbon America: Jobs, jobs, and more jobs,” that I wrote with my colleague Sam Calisch, in which we estimate we can create some 25 million U.S. jobs if we move on from fossil fuels and electrify the economy by 2035. This estimate comes from an in-depth energy and engineering analysis from comprehensive datasets of energy, labor, and materials. We know, with great precision, where our energy currently comes from, how much we use, what we will need to build to transform our system to one with zero carbon emissions–and how many people it will take to build those things. …


I’ve just finished a handbook for climate action called Rewiring America (also the name of a new nonprofit I’ve founded with clean energy entrepreneur Alex Laskey). You can get your own copy of it at rewiringamerica.org. We’re setting out to prove that electrifying everything will be not be only essential to address climate change, but also good for the economy, the air, our health, and the future.

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Rewiring America takes on the American Petroleum Institute

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The American Petroleum Institute, a national trade group representing some 600 oil and gas members, recently released a study claiming that a ban on fracking in 2021 would cause job losses reaching nearly 1 million in 2022. Rewiring America, a non-profit dedicated to electrifying everything to jump-start the economy and address climate change, has released a jobs report that shows that in fact a transition to electricity backed by renewable energy will result in 25 million new, good-paying jobs.

Rewiring America responds to the API’s claims, as reported by Fox Business, that banning fracking will hurt the economy. …


Rewiring America is a new non-profit I founded with Alex Laskey, a clean energy entrepreneur, to help mobilize America to address climate change and jump-start the economy by electrifying everything.

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We’ve recently published Rewiring America, a handbook for climate action, written with the help of Sam Calisch, PhD and Laura Fraser. In this book we approach the climate emergency from a new angle. We look for solutions, not barriers. We outline pathways to success.

We don’t begin with the question of what is politically possible, but ask what is technically necessary to make a climate solution that is also the best economic pathway for a country. …


I’ve just finished a handbook for climate action called Rewiring America (also the name of a new nonprofit I’ve founded with clean energy entrepreneur Alex Laskey). You can get your own copy of it at rewiringamerica.org. We’re setting out to prove that electrifying everything will be not be only essential to address climate change, but also good for the economy, the air, our health, and the future.

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In the book, co-written with Sam Calisch and Laura Fraser, we approach the climate emergency from a new angle. We look for solutions, not barriers. We outline pathways to success.

We don’t begin with the question of what is politically possible, but ask what is technically necessary to make a climate solution that is also the best economic pathway for a country. We need mobilization of technology, industry, labor, regulatory reform, and critically, finance. …


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1954 GMAC Advertisement | flickr@dok1

Introductory caveat ; I’m a science-y engineer, I’m not an economist, so read this at your own risk. Also, ask yourself whether you call an engineer or an economist in case of an emergency.

The car loan was invented in the 1920s.
The modern home loan was invented in the 1940s.
The invention we need for the 2020s is the climate loan.

A mortgage, or credit, is like a time machine; it allows you to afford the future you want, today. Auto financing was popularized in the 1920s and 30s. Modern, 25-year home financing was popularized in the 1940s and 50s. Modern America and indeed the modern world would not be recognizable without these two financial instruments that help the bulk of the population afford their big-ticket capital items. …


Saul Griffith’s submitted testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives, Energy Subcommittee, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on Tuesday, February 26, 2019.

At the end of the day, America benefits from having an ARPA-e. America can solve climate change (at least the energy economy component) without intoning new physics — but it will have to apply a lot of technology and develop new applied technology. I believe there is a big role for the government to play, both in funding the R&D, building the human capacity (education) and providing market incentives, vision, and direction.

Otherlab and associated companies have been very successful leveraging ARPA-E funding to commercialize new energy technologies that are starting to have a major impact on the energy economy.

ARPA-E has a critical role in technology development in the US not only in the earliest stages of technology development (the first valley of death) but in assisting through pilot programs and manufacturing scale-up to get the most promising technologies over the second valley of death and into the market. …


We don’t need a miracle. Everything we need to solve climate change is already here.

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Decarbonization can’t come from partisan commitment to one and only one policy. The science and economics prove that a market-driven combination of electrification from renewable sources, supplementation with nuclear, strategic research into groundbreaking “miracle” solutions like fusion, a small amount of carbon sequestration and geoengineering, and a whole lot of will power is the realistic pathway to a sustainable future.

Summary (2-minute read)

How to decarbonize appears to still be a contentious issue, whereas if we move past the “this, not that” arguments that plague the politics of the carbon transition, reasonable thinking leads to an approach that doesn’t require magical thinking or an over-commitment to any single technology. We don’t need a miracle technology — all we really need to do is to commit to massive electrification. Vested interests, however, want you to continue to believe in miracles because it means we can lean back and wait for the miracle to happen.

The actual miracle is that solar and wind are now the cheapest energy sources, electric cars are better cars than those we already have, electric radiant heating is better than our existing heating systems, and the internet was a practice run and blueprint for the electricity network of the future. Regardless of the minutiae of how we do it exactly, the beginning and the first half of decarbonization will most likely look the same: a commitment to solar and wind, batteries, electrification of homes, heat pumps, electric vehicles, ground-source geothermal and research into better biofuel sources and biofuels from waste, as well as research into better, cheaper, safer nuclear. …


A real-world argument with numbers you can check for yourself.

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Swirling around the Green New Deal debate there is a cacophony of people who’d like to have us believe preventing climate change will cost too much. I’ve seen some astronomical numbers in the media like $100 Trillion, which are largely unsupported and are no doubt related to how ill-defined the GND is so far. This is partly an artifact of the Green New Deal including components that address important issues like employment and healthcare, which are not related to climate change, and should be solved in separate legislation. …

About

Saul Griffith

Founder / Principal Scientist at Otherlab, an energy R&D lab, and co-founder/Principal Scientist at Rewiring America, a coalition to electrify everything.

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