ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE

By investing in our energy infrastructure, we can strengthen our nation’s security, make our economy stronger, and protect the environment.

Background

The U.S. energy sector is in the midst of transformational change. Emerging technologies and societal demand promise to reshape not only the energy we use, but also how we use it.

Our regulatory environment and approval process must incorporate a “common sense” approach helping streamline project approvals while encouraging innovative approaches to upgrade our energy and utility infrastructure.

We must integrate renewable energy, energy storage, and other emerging technologies into a cohesive energy portfolio in order to meet tomorrow’s energy demands, today.

The Challenge

There are a number of issues facing our nation’s energy infrastructure. From the source of energy – fossil fuels or renewables – to storage and distribution of power; threats, shortfalls, and challenges appear on all fronts.

As climate increasingly takes center stage, we are witnessing a shift from traditional fossil fuel and carbon-intensive power generation to greener alternatives and renewables. These face issues like diluteness and intermittency, which requires some type of power storage infrastructure. The market for solar, wind, hydroelectric, and other renewables is not as competitive as traditional resources and often have subsidies and government disruptions to market equilibria.

Our electrical grids lack the intelligence that other systems in our infrastructure are integrating. Features allowing power to be measured, routed, and diverted from numerous sources and with dynamic responsiveness to realtime demand are the future. Additionally, the security of our grid is in jeopardy. National intelligence officials believe hostile foreign powers could remotely disrupt power plants or that an electromagnetic attack could take them all offline.

These and more represent both technical and regulatory hurdles we must overcome to improve efficiency, safety, and resilience in our energy infrastructure.

The Solution

Research and development are critical to any technical challenge. But without the regulatory pieces falling into place as well, we can get nowhere. We must have a regulatory climate that encourages innovation and investment, that also balances costs and benefits.

Before our energy sector and infrastructure can transition to all green processes, significant advances in power storage are essential. Whether that is new batteries, more efficient allocation networks, or something unimagined thus far, we cannot realistically rely on the free resources of sun and wind without that next innovation.

A smarter grid is also needed. And this comes from both the technical side and regulatory side of the equation.

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WHITE PAPERS

A New Sustainable Energy Model: Ensuring Robust Energy, Resilient Infrastructure, and Climate Balance

America’s energy security must be balanced with environmental stewardship while accounting for the needs and impacts of current and future generations. While energy policy is a function of both market dynamics and public policy, it is time for industry leaders and corporations to take the lead in deploying a new model for robust energy that ensures…

 

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ESG in the Oilfield

Running ahead of public policy, the corporate world is adopting new and innovative ways to ensure responsible operations and stewardship of their environments. The approach of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) has given companies a framework to prioritize projects, minimize…

 

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Building a Smarter Electric Grid: How Investing In Smarter Electricity Will Energize America

Access to affordable, reliable energy is the cornerstone of a strong economy and first-world living standards. The U.S. electric grid has served as the backbone of the U.S. economy, expanding and evolving along the way. As new energy technologies continue to emerge and growing amounts of distributed energy resources (“DER”) come online, the grid will serve as a critical enabler of these technologies…

 

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ARCTIC PROMISE: Challenges and Opportunities in Realizing the Next Generation of U.S. Arctic Infrastructure

America’s Arctic regions need increased infrastructural development, especially as the Arctic’s thinning sea ice creates new shipping routes and increased summer navigability – providing new economic opportu- nities and furthering U.S. strategic imperatives. These needs range from healthcare facilities, roads, bridges, deep-water ports and transshipment centers, to high-speed broadband internet and access to modern health- care services for Alaska’s Native populations…

 

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An Energy (Dis)Union: Challenges and Opportunities in Europe’s Emerging Energy Markets

This paper examines the opportunities and challenges surrounding the creation of a common energy market within the European Union (EU). With particular attention to contemporary economics, current politics and European history, it will identify the frictions and missteps that have kept the internal market from being truly unified. The formation of the EU brought with it four fundamental freedoms: The free movement of goods, services, persons, and capital. While not explicitly mentioned, energy and its accompanying infrastructure ft well within the parameters of these four freedoms…

 

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POLICY BRIEFS

During the month of August, Aii educated on the importance of energy resources to the nation and the world. Throughout the month, we highlighted the seven primary natural and energy resources used to generate electricity in the United States. New content and briefs were uploaded to this page throughout Energy Month. Stay tuned for next year as we refresh the page with the latest available data for 2021.

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IMO 2020 Rule Primer: Background and Potential Impacts

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted new low sulfur fuel standards for cargo ships beginning in 2020. The rule requires ships to reduce the maximum sulfur content of their fuels to 0.5%, from the 3.5% standard currently in place…

 

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Balancing Environmental Protection and National Infrastructure Development

The Hoover dam, completed in 1936, serves as a great example of an infrastructure project of national importance with the dual benefits of improving the economy and the environment simultaneously. Projects like that portray America’s passion to innovate and build, and the benefits of long-term strategic thinking…

 

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Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Reauthorization 

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is the entity within the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) responsible for “protect[ing] people and the environment from the risks of hazardous materials transportation.” As the Nation’s lead hazardous materials regulator, PHMSA sets and enforces policies and standards, educates the public about hazardous materials transportation, and conducts research to prevent incidents…

 

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POLICY BLOG

A perfect storm for wholesale energy prices

Summer temperatures and tensions were high across the state of Texas, at least for some. While every resident of the Lone Star State dealt with immense heat during August, some Texans found themselves with ludicrously high electricity bills as well…

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Why We Can’t Leave Fossil Fuels In The Ground

Environmentalists and activists on the further reaches of the green movement occasionally go as far as to say ‘leave all fossil fuels in the ground.’ While a legitimate fear of climate change may make this view understandable, it is ultimately misguided. Modern life unequivocally requires fossil fuels, but that doesn’t mean we must be dependent on them for energy forever…

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Will FERC Consider Cumulative GHG Impacts of New Pipeline Projects? It’s Complicated

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) made a little noticed determination over the course of 2018’s summer that modified how the commission performs environmental reviews moving forward – specifically, how and if they consider cumulative greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions impacts. These new methodologies invited litigation and created massive uncertainty around pipeline certifications…

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Electromagnetic Pulse Attacks: Are We Ready?

A recent Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) report indicates that the United States electric grid is still vulnerable to electromagnetic pulse attacks, despite recommendations made almost 8 years ago to reduce such an occurrence. The susceptibility of the grid to such a phenomenon is an out-of-the-box threat many regulators and policymakers…

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Additional Resources