WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced the release of new Pathways to Commercial Liftoff reports focusing on the opportunities and challenges that lie in achieving industrial decarbonization and implementing virtual power plants (VPPs). The Liftoff series first launched in March 2023 to provide the private sector and other industry partners a valuable, engagement-driven resource on how technologies can reach full scale deployment. Both industrial decarbonization and VPPs are crucial to reducing carbon emissions, improving the resilience of our energy systems, and achieving President Biden’s ambitious goals of 100% clean electricity by 2035 and a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.
“This Administration is committed to engaging with our private sector partners to accelerate the commercialization and deployment of key technologies needed to achieve the President’s ambitious climate and decarbonization goals,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The reports released today provide in-depth analysis of emerging technologies and clear benchmarks to help guide targeted investments and propel the U.S. toward our clean energy future.”
The Biden Administration’s commitment to reducing emissions hinges heavily on transforming our industrial sectors and optimizing energy management systems. The latest Liftoff reports dive deep into industrial decarbonization, highlighting the potential in sectors such as chemicals and refining to significantly cut their carbon footprint. The focus on VPPs demonstrates how evolving energy solutions can harmoniously balance demand and supply, curtail expenses, and further reliability. By targeting these pivotal areas, we’re charting a pathway towards our broader clean energy and climate aspirations.
Industrial Decarbonization Liftoff Report
Industrial decarbonization presents a vital opportunity to transform industrial systems to improve energy and environmental justice. The three Industrial Decarbonization Liftoff reports in this series provide an overview of the pathways to decarbonization across eight industrial sectors of focus: chemicals, refining, iron & steel, food & beverage processing, pulp & paper, cement, aluminum, and glass.
Key findings from the Industrial Decarbonization Liftoff reports include:
- Carbon-intensive industrial sectors are facing a critical inflection point and society is focused on accelerating deep decarbonization; this is a unique moment that neither American industry nor DOE can allow to pass.
- U.S. industrial players are at risk of lagging behind net-zero targets, with a focus on short-term, easy-to-implement solutions; however, momentum is growing for deployment of industrial decarbonization solutions.
- The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act have created unprecedented tools to support industrial decarbonization, customers are demanding low-carbon products (e.g., steel for auto), and early private sector movers are emerging.
- Achieving meaningful reductions could require up to $1,100 billion in capital expenditure and a bold shift in leadership and technology adoption across various sectors.
To provide a deeper understanding in selected sectors, DOE is also releasing sector deep-dive reports on Decarbonizing Chemicals & Refining and on Low-Carbon Cement, discussing the specific levers available and deployment targets needed for these sectors to remain on track with decarbonization targets.
Virtual Power Plants Liftoff Report
DOE also released a Virtual Power Plants Liftoff report. VPPs are aggregations of distributed energy resources (DERs) such as smart appliances, rooftop solar with batteries, EVs and chargers, and commercial and industrial loads that can balance electricity demand and supply and provide grid services like a traditional power plant. VPPs are reaching a critical inflection point, poised to balance growing electrical demand and promote grid reliability as traditional assets retire.
Key findings from the Virtual Power Plants liftoff report include:
- As electrical demand grows and traditional energy sources like coal and gas phase out, VPPs are at a crucial juncture. With the swift adoption of distributed energy resources, like EV chargers and rooftop solar, VPPs have the potential to harness this surge, but there’s an urgent need for scalable and repeatable models across states.
- To realize their full potential, VPPs require scalable models, regulatory support, and a broad coalition of stakeholders engaged in their development and deployment.
- Tripling current scale of VPPs by 2030 could expand the U.S. grid’s capacity to reliably support rapid electrification while reducing overall grid costs by $10 billion per year.
The Liftoff reports, part of an ongoing series, are designed to catalyze public and private sector engagement to expedite the commercialization of vital clean energy technologies. The reports offer insights into the current landscape, future potential, and challenges that need to be addressed for successful commercial deployment of key clean energy technologies. DOE developed the reports through extensive collaboration and a mixture of system-level and project-level financial modeling, with new additions planned for the coming months. Other clean energy sectors discussed in previous reports, such as clean hydrogen and advanced nuclear, are also continually assessed as part of DOE’s commitment to real-time, dynamic insights.
In line with its living document philosophy, DOE will continue to revise and update the Liftoff reports as the technology and policy landscape evolve. Public input and stakeholder engagement continue to be encouraged through industry forums and can be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dive deeper into our findings and join the clean energy conversation: Access the full ‘Pathways to Commercial Liftoff’ reports here.