Nov 29, 2018

Making energy innovation more than a buzzword

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The word "innovation" is having a Beltway moment, so it's worth reading two new substantive reports.

What's new: The reports offer a roadmap for expanding federal initiatives for developing improved and next-wave zero-carbon energy sources and getting them into commercial deployment.

Why it matters: The reports arrive on the heels of major UN and U.S. government projections about the highly damaging consequences of global warming if worldwide emissions are not cut extremely sharply in the next couple decades.

Buzz: "Innovation" is getting tossed around as Republicans are being asked to respond to the big federal climate report released on Black Friday. As my former colleagues at E&E News reported on Wednesday...

  • "Several ... GOP lawmakers have thrown around the term 'innovation' or stressed technological advancement in public comments about climate change in the past few days, including Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mike Lee of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida."

So the reports are well-timed in the event policymakers actually want ideas for breathing life into the term at a time when other climate policy avenues — like carbon taxes and regulations — are moribund among Republicans.

The big picture: Both reports call for a more robust federal role. The AEIC report argues that U.S. R&D is too low.

  • The AEIC has long made the case that more aggressive federally backed research, development and deployment programs would boost U.S. economic competitiveness.
  • "They're pushing for a $16 billion annual investment, including boosting money for the Energy Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy to $1 billion, well more than twice current levels, and for beefing up DOE's network of "Energy Innovation Hubs."

The ITIF report, meanwhile, urges policymakers to bolster various areas that it calls underrepresented in the federal R&D and deployment portfolio.

  • That includes carbon removal technologies, long-term grid storage, and solutions for wringing emissions out of sectors that are tricky to decarbonize, such as shipping, and cement and steel production.

Reality check: There's some GOP appetite on Capitol Hill for expanding Energy Department clean energy programs, and Congress has batted aside White House requests for deep cuts.

  • But getting Republican buy-in for a major scale-up is a very different animal.

What's next: Members of the AEIC will be holding private meetings with lawmakers from both parties early next year, a representative of the group tells Axios.

Go deeper: 5 transformative energy technologies to watch

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 8,400

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the coronavirus surpassed 8,400 in the U.S. on Saturday, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day for the past four days, since April 1.

The big picture: President Trump said Saturday America's is facing its "toughest week, between this week and next week." Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the U.S. should expect to see deaths continue to rise in this period.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 1,197,405 — Total deaths: 64,606 — Total recoveries: 246,152Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 308,850 — Total deaths: 8,407 — Total recoveries: 14,652Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. The virus is hitting poor, minority communities harder and upending childbirth.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August."
  5. Business updates: Restaurants step up for health care workers. Employees are pressuring companies to provide protections during coronavirus.
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Education update: Many college-age students won't get coronavirus relief checks.
  8. 1 🏀 thing: The WNBA postpones start of training camps and season.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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World coronavirus updates: Spain tracks more cases than Italy

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Spain overtook Italy in its number of coronavirus cases on Saturday. The global death toll has surpassed 62,000, per Johns Hopkins data.

The latest: About half the planet's population is on lockdown amid the coronavirus crisis. Fatalities are exponentially increasing across Europe, with roughly half of deaths worldwide located in Italy and Spain.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 7 hours ago - Health