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  • Gabe Kwok

Energy Earthshots Initiative Analysis

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched its Energy Earthshots Initiative in 2021 to drive innovation breakthroughs for technologies across the energy sector. The initiative currently includes aggressive cost targets for six critical areas: hydrogen, carbon removal, long duration storage, enhanced geothermal, floating offshore wind, and low-carbon industrial heat.

EER modeled the emissions and cost impacts from realizing the DOE’s cost targets for Third Way. Our analysis considered each Energy Earthshot independently, as well as their combined impact if all targets are realized simultaneously. Key findings include:

  • Achieving all six Energy Earthshots simultaneously produces significant emission and cost savings over the next three decades: approximately 3,900 Mt CO2 and $850 billion in energy system costs are avoided. These savings are net of a baseline incorporating IRA tax credits and innovation for technologies outside of the Energy Earthshot Initiative.

  • Energy Earthshots targeting technologies outside of electric power generation (Carbon Negative, Hydrogen; Industrial Heat) generate the largest savings. In particular, direct air capture and electrolysis innovation are highly complementary since low-cost CO2 and H2 feedstocks create the opportunity for economic electric fuels.

  • Competition from other clean electricity generation technologies that benefit from IRA tax credits (e.g., onshore wind and solar PV) limits impacts from electric-sector focused Earthshots (Enhanced Geothermal; Floating Offshore Wind; Long Duration Storage). However, their impact and importance to decarbonization are expected to be higher if additional constraints not modeled in this analysis are considered: land use limitations affecting onshore wind and solar development; limits on new inter-regional electric transmission lines; and future policy targets such as a national 100% clean electricity standard or economy-wide cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

The full study can be found here.

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