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Biden Could Mandate 80% Emissions-Free Grid by 2030

The Biden administration is considering a national clean energy standard to get 80% of the country’s electricity from emissions-free sources by 2030, as a stepping stone to its goal of delivering a net-zero grid by 2035, according to an exclusive report this week from the Reuters news agency.

“Our goal is to enact this into law,” said deputy White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi. “There are multiple pathways to get meaningful progress in the power sector,” and “we think this is a really powerful one in terms of giving utilities a clear and clean planning horizon.”

The national mandate “would require reductions in emissions by adopting renewables like wind and solar, using nuclear energy, or finding ways to suck up and sequester greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel plant,” Reuters writes.

“Many utilities already have plans to remove carbon from their systems due to investor pressure or state mandates, so they broadly support the policy. They are concerned, however, that technological breakthroughs needed to reach zero emissions may not materialize in time to meet a 2035 timeline.”

A week earlier, 13 major U.S. utilities wrote to Biden to support an 80% grid decarbonization target by 2030. “A federal policy framework can be designed to support the power sector’s deployment of strategies that are technically feasible, ensure reliability, and maintain affordability for customers,” the companies said.

The U.S. grid currently draws just 40% of its electricity from low-emission sources, Reuters notes. But the latest in a series of analyses shows the 80% target “can be achieved with existing technologies at no additional cost to ratepayers in every region because the cost of renewables and batteries have come down so much.”

Late last week, the UK-based Carbon Tracker think tank concluded that solar and wind are on track to push fossil fuels out of the world’s electricity sector by the mid-2030s and “replace fossil fuels entirely” by 2050, CNBC reports. But “skepticism persists over the likelihood of a so-called energy transition happening anytime soon.” The story cites Center for International Environmental Law CEO Carroll Muffett warning that “embedded power structures and continued support of dying industry” are thwarting the transition to renewable energy sources.