President Biden aims to slash US power plant emissions: What you need to know about the global energy transition this week

Energy This Week: US President Joe Biden wants to slash greenhouse gas emissions from the US power industry.
Energy This Week: US President Joe Biden wants to slash greenhouse gas emissions from the US power industry.
Image: REUTERS/Aude Guerrucci
  • This weekly round-up brings you the latest developments in the global energy sector.
  • Top energy news: Biden aims to slash CO2 emissions from US power plants; Glencore plans Europe’s biggest EV battery recycling plant; Companies look to collaborate on vast green hydrogen project in Sweden.
  • For more on the World Economic Forum’s work in the energy space, visit the Shaping the Future of Energy, Materials and Infrastructure Platform.

1. Biden looks to slash CO2 emissions from US power plants

US President Joe Biden has announced ambitious plans to slash greenhouse gas emissions from the US power industry, in what is one of the biggest steps so far in his efforts to decarbonize the economy.

The proposal would limit the carbon dioxide emissions of power plants, which are the source of a quarter of US emissions. The move would put the industry on a years-long course to install billions of dollars of new equipment, or face the risk of being shut down.

Total US Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Economic Sector in 2021
Power plants are the source of a quarter of US emissions
Image: US Environmental Protection Agency

Environmental groups and scientists have long argued that such steps are crucial to curb global warming, but fossil fuel-producing states say the move represents government overreach and threatens to destabilize the electric grid.

The proposal sets standards that would push power companies towards options such as installing carbon capture equipment or using hydrogen as a fuel.

The US Environmental Protection Agency forecasts that the plan would cut carbon emissions from coal plants and new gas plants by 617 million tonnes between 2028 and 2042, the equivalent of reducing the annual emissions of 137 million passenger vehicles.

White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi says the proposal will keep the US on track to meet its goal to achieve net-zero power sector emissions by 2035.

2. Glencore plans Europe’s biggest EV battery recycling plant

Plans to build Europe’s largest battery recycling plant are under consideration at commodity trading company Glencore, ahead of an expected surge in electric vehicles (EVs) reaching the end of their lifespan in 8-15 years, The Financial Times reports.

The proposed site is located in Italy and could launch by 2027. Growth is expected to be “exponential”, according to Glencore Chief Executive Gary Nagle, as recycling will play an increasingly important role in reducing demand for mining certain raw materials.

EU legislators have proposed that batteries in EVs must contain a percentage of recycled materials from 2030, increasing the potential growth even further.

Meanwhile, demand for EVs continues to expand, and Japanese carmaker Toyota says it is accelerating its EV push into China, the world’s largest car market.

A chart showing global EV sales from 2010 to 2022.
EV demand continues to expand, and battery recycling is expected to surge in the coming years.
Image: IEA

3. News in brief: More energy stories from around the world

Three companies are looking to collaborate on a green hydrogen project in Sweden that could become one of Europe's largest suppliers of renewable hydrogen, industry website Offshore Engineer reports. The SoutH2port project could produce about 240 tons of hydrogen per day.

Britain's wind farms generated more electricity than gas-fired power plants in the first quarter – the first time they have done so. In total, renewables provided almost 42% of Britain's electricity in January-March, with 33% coming from fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, Vietnam – which aims to more than double its power generation capacity by 2030 – has lowered its offshore wind target as it continues to rely heavily on coal.

G7-led price caps on Russia's oil exports have resulted in Moscow having to increase taxes on oil producers to make up for lost budget revenues, according to The Financial Times. The decision could reduce the industry's ability to make long-term investments and prove detrimental to future production capacity.

Two lithium producers are set to merge in what would be the latest consolidation in the booming industry. The tie-up would create a company centred on lithium resources in Argentina, Australia and Canada, and processing in countries including China, the US and Japan, says The Financial Times.

Spain has its first service stations offering 100% renewable diesel after Repsol began selling the product at sites in Madrid and Barcelona. The company has also started offering the product in the Portuguese capital Lisbon. It aims to sell advanced biofuels at 50 service stations around the Iberian Peninsula by the end of this year.

A technology platform that uses advanced data and machine learning capabilities will help clean-energy company Masdar control the performance of its UK battery storage portfolio. Octopus Energy's Kraken platform will allow real-time management of the batteries, enabling them to "store and discharge electrons in the greenest possible way".

Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands have agreed to collaborate on green energy and hydrogen. The Netherlands could be the leading destination for the transport of hydrogen derived from renewable energy sources from Saudi Arabia to Europe, Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said at the World Hydrogen Summit in Rotterdam.

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company is also accelerating its work on developing technology solutions for green and low-carbon hydrogen. It has signed a deal with US firm Baker Hughes to pilot the deployment of next-generation electrolysis and methane pyrolysis technologies, according to the industry website Chemical Engineering.

New technology could produce lower-carbon aviation fuel by combining green hydrogen and carbon dioxide captured from industrial applications. Honeywell says the technology creates lower-carbon methanol that can be turned into sustainable aviation fuel. It could help cut greenhouse gas emissions from aviation, one of the hardest sectors to electrify and decarbonize.

Centre: Energy and Materials

How is the World Economic Forum facilitating the transition to clean energy?

The Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2023 report showed that after a decade of progress, the global energy transition has plateaued amid the global energy crisis and geopolitical volatilities.

The World Economic Forum’s Centre for Energy and Materials is driving the transition to a “fit for 2050” energy system. It is a cross-industry platform building new coalitions and delivering insights required for a sustainable, secure and just energy future.

Learn more about our impact:

  • Clean energy in emerging economies: We are advancing country-specific renewable energy finance solutions for four of the biggest emerging and developing economies: India, Brazil, Nigeria and Indonesia. In the latter, a new solar and battery initiative is bringing 15MW of clean energy to the East Sumba region – enough to power 4,000 homes and avoid 5.5KtCO₂ yearly emissions.
  • Energy Transition Index: We have measured the progress of 120 countries on the performance of their energy systems, enabling policymakers and businesses to identify the necessary actions for the energy transition.
  • Mining and metals blockchain: We released a proof of concept to trace emissions across the value chain using blockchain technology, helping accelerate global action for country-specific financing solutions.
  • Clean power and electrification: We are accelerating the adoption of clean power and electric solutions in the next decade to help increase clean energy consumption threefold by 2030.

Want to know more about our centre’s impact or get involved? Contact us.

4. More on energy from Agenda

The rapidly accelerating climate crisis warrants an urgent transformation of global energy systems, but it is critical that this transition is fair as well as fast. Land-intensive renewables projects can impact Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Here’s how renewable projects can involve local groups.

Around 71% of Nigeria's population does not have access to energy, but the government plans to achieve universal energy access by 2030. This is how Nigeria is tackling the financial and technical challenges that are slowing its green energy transition.

Global sales of electric vehicles increased by 55% in 2022 — this article shows which countries are seeing the fastest growth.

To learn more about the work of the Energy, Materials, Infrastructure Platform, contact Ella Yutong Lin:

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