Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm at 2023 CERAWeek Luncheon & Keynote Address
March 8, 2023, Houston, Texas
Thank you so much, Dan, for the introduction—so gracious, as always.
And hello, everyone. What a pleasure to be back in Houston for CERAWeek. And my, what a different world I see from this stage today, compared to a year ago.
A year ago, we stood at the very outset of Vladimir Putin’s horrific, barbaric invasion of Ukraine. No one could question the ferocious bravery of the Ukrainian people. But plenty doubted their chances.
Yet today, we know that their guts and heart and resolve forced Russia into retreat and proved those doubters wrong.
A year ago, fears abounded that Putin’s weaponization of energy would plunge the global economy into a recession and leave European citizens suffering in the dark of winter.
Today … today the world is moving quickly to shift away from Russian energy sources, and Europe is poised to reach the spring without major outages or shortages.
That’s thanks in no small part to the many in this room working with the US and allies. Indeed, the US has become an indispensable partner to our allies, and a global energy powerhouse.
A year ago, it was an open question what this conflict would do to energy markets. Whether the resulting supply disruptions would push countries away from clean energy ambition.
And today, the answer is indisputable.
Thanks again to many in this room, global investments in clean energy matched those in fossil fuel production for the very first time in 2022. New clean energy installations reached a new record, as the EU added more wind and solar capacity than any year prior.
In spite of—and partially because of—the geopolitics of the day, the clean energy transition is firmly underway.
So. What lies ahead?
Make no mistake. Enormous challenges remain across global energy markets.
We have not yet vanquished the volatility that characterized so much of the last 12 months.
The risks to energy security, and the vulnerabilities they leave for our national and economic security—those have not disappeared.
The costs of climate change keep piling up.
And the imperative every country faces to meet the energy needs of its citizens will heighten as demand rises in the years ahead.
It will take partnership between governments and private sectors to meet those challenges. A willingness to work together, even amid differing views.
And here’s where we need to start: by acknowledging the clean energy transition is happening, and that we are growing the energy pie.
Which offers a powerful solution to those challenges of volatility, security, and demand:
We can make our country more energy independent. We can make our allies more energy secure. We can make our world and our future safer in the face of climate change, all by growing the pie, for all to share.
Now, look. We know that oil and gas will remain part of our energy mix for years to come.
And we know that even the boldest projections for clean energy deployment suggest that, in the middle of this century, we’ll be using abated fossil fuels.
We need to advance the technologies for abating fossil emissions, and we need to advance the technologies for clean sources.
We need both traditional and new energy.
As this transition progresses, our energy mix will change.
And that means we all have to play a part to make sure this is a managed transition.
One that keeps us ready and able to meet consumer energy demand today, while expanding into more and more diverse sources for tomorrow.
And one where we’re able to send energy from where it’s generated to where it needs to go.
It should not take over a decade to get permitting for a transmission project on federal lands. John Podesta was on this stage just two days ago noting that the President has directed DOE, with the federal permitting agencies, to use our full authorities within the Federal Power Act to significantly speed those permitting timelines.
This is not about closing doors. It’s about opening new windows of opportunity.
Let me tell you: President Biden has spent the last two years making sure those windows are wide open. And under his watch, the United States will be the global leader of this transition.
When I visited CERAWeek last year, I spoke of the $62 billion that the Department of Energy is overseeing, as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, for grid upgrades, supply chains, demonstration projects for high-potential technologies, and more.
And since then, we’ve added to that pot with the Inflation Reduction Act.
Between all the President’s signature legislative achievements, the U.S. government has made hundreds of billions of dollars available to the private sector for American clean energy development.
There’s that direct, competitive funding from the Infrastructure Law—a lot of that to clean up fossil emissions.
There’s 10 years of investment and production tax credits, offering unparalleled levels of certainty for a wide range of clean energy sources—including geothermal, clean hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuels, and offshore wind.
There’s loans and loan guarantees to support large-scale, made-in-America deployment projects.
Put it all together, and you’ll see that the Biden-Harris administration has made the United States the world’s most attractive investment landscape for new energy and decarbonization technologies.
In many cases, it makes the U.S. irresistible.
Granted, we know there are issues with permitting, workforce, and supply chains ahead. Believe me, the administration is concerned that these challenges are holding much-needed development back.
We have welcomed and continue to encourage your input on how to detangle these issues using what tools we have.
Because we want American workers making these technologies here.
We want them supplying American families and businesses with affordable, reliable, resilient power.
We want people using these technologies stamped Made in America all over the world.
And we make no apologies for this.
The level of investment we’re tapping into will unlock technological leaps forward, leading to lower costs and faster deployment.
I don’t just mean lower costs in the United States. I mean worldwide—from Europe to Australia, Asia to Africa, and all across the Americas.
Just as we saw with solar and wind and EVs in the last decade, innovation anywhere leads to progress everywhere.
We want to recapture that innovation effect, and punch through obstacles to adoption of the next generation of clean energy and decarbonization technologies.
That’s why, today, two announcements.
First, DOE is soft launching our Pathways to Commercial Liftoff.
Over the last two years, we’ve engaged businesses in conversations on what it will take for key technologies to reach commercial liftoff.
Some of your companies contributed to those conversations.
We’ve synthesized those views alongside market analysis to lay out the technological, commercial, and regulatory barriers holding back large-scale deployment of four technologies:
Clean hydrogen, advanced nuclear, carbon management, and long duration storage.
And as these reports make clear—there is a path to liftoff for these essential technologies, leading to a generational economic opportunity.
We will start releasing them next week, at liftoff.energy.gov.
We are eager to hear your feedback—on what we got right, what we got wrong, what we’re missing, and what’s changing over time—so we can keep on guiding these technologies along a steady path to market competitiveness.
Of course, beyond studies and analysis, we at DOE are also working each and every day to get money from the President’s agenda out the door.
And to that end, today, I’m thrilled to make this second announcement:
We are releasing a $6 billion funding opportunity for industrial decarbonization projects.
The Department has been investing in methods to minimize carbon pollution from heavy industry for years. The amount of funding we’re pouring in now is unprecedented.
This is an opportunity to accelerate transformational projects for the industrial sector. Taking concepts that might have required decades—plural—to prove out and scale, and shrinking that timeline down to this decade.
It’s an opportunity to make important progress on our climate goals, slashing pollution from a sector that contributes roughly a third of the country’s carbon emissions.
And it’s an opportunity to give the United States a competitive edge. An edge in developing technologies that every country’s industrial sector will look to adopt in the years ahead. And in producing the world’s least carbon-intensive iron and steel, aluminum, cement, concrete, glass, pulp and paper, industrial ceramics, and chemicals.
That’s really what this is all about. Our competitive edge. Our innovative advantage. Our ability to build and lead new markets.
The US is the indispensable nation. Our companies producing irresistible products.
And this administration has gone all in.
We have passed the policies. Secured the resources.
We are working around the clock to implement.
But government is only part of the equation here.
To make this all work, we need the private sector stepping up—we often say these investments are private sector led, government enabled.
So perhaps most of all, we need the energy sector stepping up. And that certainly includes the oil and gas industry.
You have the skillsets and knowledge to build some critical technologies at scale.
Your expertise in offshore drilling gives you a leg up on offshore wind.
Your breakthroughs in fracking give you a massive advantage in geothermal.
Your practices around natural gas transport and infrastructure development could lend themselves to clean hydrogen.
And, of course, few are better positioned to crack open cost-effective carbon management.
We know some of you are already moving in these directions—we’ve heard your plans on your earnings calls.
And we know that others are still hesitant, citing uncertainty.
You now have 10 years of IRA carrots you can take to the bank.
There has never been a better time to invest in the future—to invest in that great, necessary solution of energy diversity and security than right now.
What an amazing time to be in the energy sector.
We are in the middle of history. There is a geopolitical realignment around energy. The tectonic plates are moving.
The world looks very different today than it did one year ago. So imagine what it will look like one year from now. Imagine what it will look like one decade from now.
Leaders in traditional energy will be leaders in new energy. Businesses in fossil energy will have enlarged their territory into clean energy.
Someone is going to write this chapter of history.
Well, ok, Dan Yergin will be chronicling it.
But who will he be writing about? What courageous visionaries in this room will be shaping this chapter?
I tell you what—he won’t be writing about the ones who covered their eyes and ears and hunkered down in a defensive crouch.
He’ll be writing about the ones who saw this moment and chose to boldly lead in this diverse energy future.
So I expect he’ll be writing about some of y’all.
Let’s not let this moment pass us by.