This is Part 10 of a paper written about the projected US Energy profile in the year 2050. In this chapter, we offer several important Energy Policy recommendations.
To realistically achieve the 2050 Energy Portfolio goals that we have set forth, the US will need to act quickly to implement a strategic plan of energy policy for its energy future. We recommend the following measures, which will put the US on the right path towards a secure, reliable, affordable, and environmentally sustainable future.
1. Institute a carbon tax or cap and trade system. A carbon tax or cap and trade system is necessary to prepare the US for a sustainable future. From an economic perspective, putting a cost on carbon would eliminate externalities in the market, internalizing the social cost of carbon. Such a measure would gradually reduce American dependence on oil and coal and increase investment in nuclear and renewable energy resources.
2. Promote energy efficiency above all energy sources. Promote energy efficiency above all energy sources. To ensure that we have energy resource for years to come, the US government needs to promote energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is often the most affordable means to reducing our carbon footprint and increasing consumption capabilities. We need to find common ground in efficiency with energy producing nations and developing countries, which often are the least efficient. We should continue to raise CAFE standards for transportation vehicles and mandate efficiency in home appliances, and (5) public/private partnerships.
3. Promote clean coal technologies. The government should pass legislation to slowlyphase out existing coal facilities, which cause significant damage to the environment. The federal government should play a vital role in funding the development of cleaner coal technologies, such as carbon capture and sequestration, through significant subsidies, tax incentives, and research grants to any companies supporting clean coal technology. While many of these technologies are in their infant stages, further government support can play an extremely important role.
4. Responsibly manage the next price down-cycle. When oil prices drop, the US should lead the way in promoting sustainability and efficiency even when overconsumption is easy. The way that the US handles the next boom and bust will be indicative of its management of the energy crisis over the next century.
5. Pressure the international community to accurately report reserves. The federal government needs to convince oil-exporting nations such as Saudi Arabia that accurately reporting oil and gas reserves is in their best interest as well as the best interest of the world. An international uranium resource assessment should also be conducted to determine a more accurate uranium reserve count.
6. Secure liquefied natural gas trade agreements with natural gas rich countries.The federal government should incentivize the private sector to establish joint IOC/NOC ventures in countries like Qatar and Russia. It should also expedite the licensing process of LNG receiving terminals and eliminate the state governor’s veto power of off-shore terminals.
7. Include nuclear power in state and federal renewable portfolio standards.A lot of emphasis is currently put on renewable portfolio standards at the state and federal levels. Including nuclear power as a carbon-free energy would greatly incentive the public and private sectors to more aggressively pursue nuclear technologies.
8. Establish a strategic plan for nuclear waste management both domestically and abroad. The recent debate over using Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository has revealed that the US has no strategic plan for waste disposal. The Department of Energy must broaden long-term R&D for nuclear waste management and encourage greater international standardization of regulations for transport, storage and disposal. A nuclear accident across the world will have ramifications on national public opinion. Also, the risk of nuclear proliferation heightens our interest in nuclear waste disposal abroad.
9. Properly incentivize solar and wind energy use.Federal subsidies and tax breaks should strive for three different goals. First of all, increased federal support should be given to supporting consumers who add solar panels to their houses or businesses. By offering a more effective utility buy-back system for generated solar energy, we can copy the European Union’s successful model to increase demand for solar energy. Secondly, we need to offer significant subsidies to any companies engaged in the solar industry. Without federal funding, it is simply economically impossible for solar power to competitively succeed as an energy source. Thirdly, the federal government should contribute considerable funding to research and development into solar technologies. A strong public-private research partnership can make significant progress in reducing the costs of solar power.
10. Jump-start the electric vehicles industry.For electric vehicles to gain traction consumers will need incentives to buy them. Also, the federal government needs to start making sure that the electricity infrastructure will be in place when the demand for electric vehicles rises.
11. Continue investing in second and third generation biofuels.The government must create tax incentives and subsidies that particularly focus on second and third generation technologies. With government taking an active role, biofuel technologies can be cheap, sustainable, and help to ease the transition towards more renewable sources of energy.