In this mini-series, we’ve discussed how the CLEAN Future Act is working to improve on the U.S.’s transportation, buildings, and power sectors. This series also touches on the issues that will come up if the bill passes. Now, we can move on to the industry section of the bill.
How does CLEAN hope to fix the U.S. industry sector?
The biggest takeaway from this section is that the authors behind the bill are concerned about how hard the industry sector will be to decarbonize. This reason is twofold: some industrial processes that produce carbon emissions are unavoidable and how other areas are poorly developed for utilizing low-carbon methods of manufacturing. The latter of these results in industrial subsectors looking to relocate their production other than investing in alternative technologies.
Where would CLEAN start in the industry sector?
The Committee behind the CLEAN Future Act believes that achieving a cleaner industry in the U.S. will call for industry and process-specific solutions, which means they want to figure out a way that they can be both productive and mindful of carbon emissions. Back in September 2019, the Subcommitee on Environment and Climate Change held a hearing focusing on possible methods of reducing carbon emissions.
One witness, Dr. Julio Friedmann, testified “a new innovation focus on clean heavy industry would help maintain a muscular U.S. heavy industry, help us remain globally competitive, and could prove the cornerstone for future… According to Dr. Friedmann, federal, state, and city governments buy or fund the purchase of enormous volumes of industrial products – including some 90 percent of cement and concrete and 50 percent of steel – giving government procurement enormous leverage in those markets.” (CLEAN Future Act, circleofblue.org)
How would this work for the industry sector?
CLEAN, if passed, would establish a “Buy Clean Program”, where performance targets would be set to reduce emissions from materials and processes included in industrial work. “Buy Clean” is a term that started in California where taxpayer money would be spent in a way that would help cut emissions in the state. When agencies are looking to buy carbon materials, the level of emissions would be taken into account before the purchase takes place.
Would the Buy Clean Program be worth it for the industry sector?
As “Buy Clean” would be nationwide, it would set a standard for low-carbon industrial products and services as they would be in high demand. The members of the Committee of Energy and Commerce behind CLEAN believes that this measure will lead to a rise in private investment for decarbonizing sources for industrial use. Raw materials that produce little to no carbon emissions would be utilized for construction.
How would these technologies be developed to help the industry sector?
The CLEAN Future Act would charge the Secretary of Energy to devise a strategy for developing technologies for the nation that would provide rebates for facilities that want to install electric systems.
Photo by Pixabay, pexels.com
Are these plans realistic for improving the industry sector?
Yes, they are.
Fact is, there’s already industry for low emission raw materials; the CLEAN Future Act would make it a nationwide mandate. Lowering emissions might look like a tall order, as Dr. Friedmann outlines how 22% of global C02 emissions are caused by heavy industry and 40% of that is caused by combustion from burning of fossil fuels. Friedmann, along with his coauthors, give a few substitutions that the industry sector could use. They include:
- Biomass and biofuel combustion
- Hydrogen combustion (including hydrogen produced from natural gas with 89 percent carbon capture (blue hydrogen) and hydrogen produced from electrolysis of water using renewable power (green hydrogen)
- Electrical heating (including electrical resistance heating and radiative heating (e.g., microwaves)
- Nuclear heat production (including conventional and advanced systems)
- The application of post-combustion carbon capture, use, and storage (CCUS) to industrial heat supply and to the entire facility, as a basis for comparison
Are the plans for the industry sector realistic?
Friedmann and his team do admit that shifting away from fossil fuels will be a costly one, as smart technologies in the U.S. aren’t as advanced as they are like in the EU or Asia. However, with more research and money, prices should go down for these technologies, like they did for solar and wind. Another reason why Friedmann and his team believe in substitution for energy sources is they require less heat than what’s required for fossil fuels to burn. Less heat equals less energy used which equals less raw materials that need to be consumed for production.
So, is it worth it?
For the sake of our planet, it definitely is. Everybody constantly hears about “if we don’t change our ways now, then it’ll be too late.” I don’t think that it’s THAT serious, but we’re on our way to making it a reality. With our forests being burnt down and our coral reefs dying off, we need to change our industrial world as it’s been the leading supplier of C02 emissions ever since the Industrial Revolution.