Miranda Ballentine is the strategic advisor and founding CEO of the Clean Energy Buyers Alliance, a U.S.-based business association that leads the world in clean power purchases and power purchase agreements. These agreements allow companies to lower the carbon impact of their electricity usage by supporting the growth of new renewable power. The alliance’s customers include tech giants like Amazon, Google, and Meta.
What is the single most important action you think the public, or a specific company or government, needs to take in the next year to advance the climate agenda?
Buy carbon-free power. Or send an unambiguous signal that they want to buy carbon-free energy. The climate crisis cannot be solved without carbon-free energy, and every member of the public, all corporations, and all governments buy electricity and fuels to power their lives and to support a high quality of life. Likewise, energy is fundamental to achieving every Sustainable Development Goal. Whether you are an individual citizen, a major corporation, or a governmental body, you can use the power of your purse to tell energy providers you want electricity and fuels to be carbon-free. Easier than you think.
What is a climate technology that isn’t getting the attention or funding it deserves?
Advanced nuclear technologies and hydropower are the two “forgotten” carbon-free electricity technologies that are critical to decarbonizing power systems the world over, and both technologies provide a suite of other societal benefits such as black-start capabilities for resilience [in the face of energy blackouts]. In the United States, half of the existing hydropower fleet is at risk of shuttering, and while hydro is only 7% of the U.S.’s electricity capacity, it provides 40% of the nation’s black-start capability. The world needs a tripling of renewables capacity additions every year, yet losing nuclear or hydro to unmitigated gas or coal creates a terrible headwind.
[Also,] this is geeky, but: advanced conductors for transmission lines. Deploying a three-fold increase in renewable energy every year will increase the pressure to build interconnecting transmission systems. Not only can advanced conductors reduce line loss by 40% or more (resulting in fewer new power plants needed), they also dramatically reduce fire risk by reducing thermal sag. Why aren’t we doubling down on these technologies for both retrofitting existing transmission lines but also for building new lines?
What’s the most important climate legislation that could pass in the next year?
If it were politically feasible, a nation-wide clean energy standard would cause emissions from the power system to plummet. In the realm of more possible in the United States, however, would be building new incentives for transmission investments. There is currently a transmission investment tax credit bill under consideration in the 118th Congress that has opened the door for conversation. In the regulatory realm, a little-discussed Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulation called the “FTC Green Guide” is under review, the results of which will drive the behavior of big corporations for the next decade—getting it right matters a lot.
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