The White House has formed a task force to help set up the Agency for Advanced Climate Research Projects (ARPA-C), which Biden pledged to create during the campaign. Its mission will be to accelerate progress in difficult technical fields, possibly including technologies capable of capturing, removing and storing carbon dioxide as well as heating and cooling products that do not depend on greenhouse gases. very powerful greenhouse.
In addition, the Department of Energy plans to provide $ 100 million in funding for low-carbon energy projects through the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), a group funded by the first Obama administration to support clean energy technologies that aren’t far enough away to start businesses or attract traditional venture capital.
The move could help revitalize a favorite target of the Trump administration, which tried several times eliminate ARPA-E’s budget over the past four years. Congress, however, has consistently maintained or even slightly increased its funding.
More federal money for research and development promises to lower the cost of clean technologies, making tackling growing climate risks in the United States and beyond cheaper and more politically feasible.
But some energy watchers are confused why the administration wants to create and fund a new research agency rather than focusing on increasing capital for existing programs. It took Congress years to allocate money to ARPA-E, which was authorized under George W. Bush but was not funded until Obama passed the Recovery Act in 2009. The precise boundaries between the two ARPAs are also not entirely clear.
ARPA-E primarily focuses on “transformational low-carbon energy technologies,” while ARPA-C is likely to adopt a wider range of climate-related tools, at least based on Biden. energy plan announced during the campaign.
Its expected focus on carbon capture, removal and storage promises to be controversial. These technologies include systems that prevent greenhouse gas emissions from leaving power plants and factories; direct air capture tools that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere; or even agricultural techniques suck and store more carbon in the ground. (ARPA-E himself did some investments in these areas already too.)
Many fear that these technologies will help extend the life of the fossil fuel industry. But they can also provide means to prevent or counter emissions from sectors where there are no affordable and scalable clean options, such as steel, cement, aviation and agriculture. In addition, technologies could be essential in reducing the levels of carbon dioxide already in the air.
The Biden administration has said it wants to increase funding in other areas as well, including: cheaper energy storage; clean vehicles and less expensive public transport; sustainable fuels for aircraft and ships; carbon neutral building materials; and clean, inexpensive forms of hydrogen, which can be used as fuel and are a crucial ingredient in some industrial processes.