Here’s a calmly edited transcript of the interview.
Will Englund: This nation goes to have extra electrical vehicles and vehicles, and 2035, it received’t be common, however it’s taking place shortly. What’s the oil sector in America going to seem like when that occurs?
Jennifer Granholm: Nicely, I’d say that it’s going to be as much as them. Lots of them perceive that. They’re now diversifying to be vitality firms slightly than oil and gasoline firms. I feel Chevron simply introduced … that it was going to be investing $300 million in a fund to advance low-carbon applied sciences. In order that’s a brilliant necessary piece of a possibility for them. However clearly, it’s going to be as much as them to be extra aware of this. They could possibly be investing in battery know-how. They could possibly be investing, clearly, in biofuels, which is totally different.
They will see the place that is going. They will see that the globe goes to be demanding clean-energy options and carbon-zero options 2050.
What are the means for diversification of their vitality portfolios that may enable them to nonetheless be worthwhile? I feel there’s loads of alternative if they’re keen to go there.
WE: Is there a task for the Power Division to information or direct or, , nudge the businesses and the sector as a complete?
JG: From a know-how perspective, we’re wanting to deploy a whole lot of the analysis that has been taking place within the labs. So, for instance, carbon seize and sequestration applied sciences, significantly, are being superior out of the [National Energy Technology Laboratory] in West Virginia.
They’re engaged on all of this. Not simply lowering the carbon emissions from coal, which they’re doing, however from pure gasoline as nicely. The power to do pure gasoline in a means that’s even carbon adverse is a large alternative for these firms. We need to associate with anybody that wishes to have the ability to deploy these applied sciences. We’d similar to to see extra of it.
There’s an analogy right here from my very own expertise in Michigan. We constructed a automobile, a product that relied on gasoline. And we nonetheless do. And the query is, , as GM declares an all-electric fleet, they noticed the place this was heading, and so they determined to diversify in the identical means.
WE: If we go to wash vitality, what’s the grid going to seem like? Will we nonetheless have a grid the way in which we all know it?
JG: Clearly the grid, its reliability and its capability are an enormous focus. I feel you’ll see within the subsequent bundle that [the White House] presents to Congress — proper now, clearly, they’re targeted on the covid rescue bundle — however there will likely be a jobs bundle subsequent. And I absolutely count on that there will likely be a major dedication to investing within the nationwide grid, each increasing the traces for transmission, in addition to investing within the resiliency of the grid. Each of these must occur if we’re going to be including all these electrical autos and the demand for clear vitality to our nationwide grid.
WE: You tweeted the opposite day that what occurred in Texas, and what occurred in California in the summertime warmth there, simply reveals that we have to improve the grid. However was there something that occurred in Texas that was new to you, that made you assume once more about what sorts of adjustments are wanted?
JG: A hand of friendship prolonged to Texas — to think about upgrading their connectivity to the nationwide grid in order that their neighbors will help them in occasions of disaster. [The grid in Texas has only minor links to the rest of the country, which some believe contributed to the problems there. It keeps the state free of federal electricity regulation.] Clearly, they must winterize their vitality system. I perceive the need to be unbiased. I get that that’s the ethos in Texas. However in emergencies, it could be good to know there’s backup.
WE: You talked about upgrading transmission traces. There are individuals who consider that the reply is to have extra domestically generated electrical energy across the nation to attempt to break down this type of rectangular grid we now have, as they put it. What do you consider that? And there may be new curiosity in mini-nuclear energy vegetation.
JG: All of that’s nice. I’m very supportive of microgrids, of those small modular nuclear reactors, of the flexibility to have distributed vitality assets, community-based photo voltaic hooked up to a microgrid. These options are very thrilling and could possibly be, and definitely must be, a part of the nationwide system. We must be incentivizing communities to consider that in order that they don’t seem to be so depending on, , poles with wires atop that have been constructed 70 years in the past.
So, sure, that’s undoubtedly part of the applied sciences, too, which can be being researched within the laboratories on the Division of Power.
WE: Your predecessor [during the Obama administration], Ernest Moniz, performed a component in reaching the Iran nuclear deal. There’s a whole lot of curiosity in attempting to revive that deal. Would you be enjoying a component in that?
JG: Actually the Division of Power can be enjoying a task in that. And the consultants who’re nuclear scientists and physicists can be doing that. I’d clearly depend upon the experience of those that have that have.
WE: What’s going to occur to coal miners on this nation?
JG: Yeah, that is such an necessary query. In truth, we now have a gathering as we speak, the primary assembly of the duty power that Joe Biden created to handle communities which have been coal and fossil gasoline mills. We need to make it possible for the applied sciences like carbon seize and sequestration, geothermal, hydrogen, are deployed. And these communities are the proper place to exhibit how these applied sciences can be utilized to get to our aim of net-zero carbon emissions 2050. So we’re enthusiastic about actually bringing jobs to those communities.
You noticed, maybe, the Brookings Establishment report that mentioned that these fossil communities are maybe among the many most ripe for the deployment of wind and photo voltaic applied sciences as nicely. So there are a boatload of clean-energy applied sciences which can be constant, maybe, with the talents of those that have been doing mining, together with, the way in which, the mining of the important supplies which can be vital to construct batteries.
The entire aim of this job power, in addition to the give attention to environmental justice, is to make it possible for 40 p.c of the advantages of clean-energy funding go to communities, like in West Virginia, somewhere else which have been left behind or have been disproportionately negatively affected air pollution.
WE: And may you persuade these communities to provide it a attempt?
JG: [Senator] Joe Manchin [D-W.Va.] is a superb instance of this. As he’ll say, he doesn’t care in regards to the coal firms. He cares in regards to the coal miners. And so what do individuals want? And if they will see that jobs are coming in, these clean-energy sectors, that they’ve a future …
It’s not regulation that’s inflicting coal to decrease when it comes to its market share. It’s the world that’s saying: “All of us need to get to net-zero carbon emissions 2050.” So what are the applied sciences that may get us there? And the individuals who characterize these states are very bullish on know-how options that may be taken to scale inside their communities. And so are we.