US government departments seek clean energy to meet emissions targets

By on 08/02/2022 | Updated on 08/02/2022
The US government aims to “lead by example in order to achieve a carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050”. Photo by Kervin Edward Lara via Pexels

The US defence department (DOD) and the General Services Administration (GSA) have sought information from the private sector as they explore ways to procure clean energy as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to decarbonise the power sector by 2035.

In a Request for Information (RFI), the two agencies said they seek “to obtain market information and capabilities for planning purposes from vendors and other interested parties in supplying carbon pollution-free electricity to the United States government”.

The RFI follows an executive order signed by president Biden in December, which directs the government to “lead by example in order to achieve a carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050”.

The DOD is one of the world’s biggest energy buyers, while the GSA – which manages federal property and provides contracting options for government agencies – is the US government’s second biggest energy procurer. The US government operates a fleet of 600,000 vehicles and maintains 300,000 buildings nationwide.

“As one of the largest electricity users in the country, the Department of Defense has an opportunity to lead the way in transitioning to carbon-free electricity,” deputy secretary of defence Kathleen Hicks said in a statement, as reported by Government Executive. “It’s not just critical to addressing the threat of climate change, but also to our national security as we work to secure US competitiveness in rapidly-shifting global energy markets.”

Whole-of-government approach

The objectives of the RFI are to achieve the executive order’s targets using a “whole-of-government approach” through gathering information on potential approaches to, and key considerations for, meeting the targets set out in the order; and to understand industry’s ability to supply the scale of carbon-free energy needed, and collect indicative pricing information.

The RFI defines “carbon pollution-free electricity” as “electrical energy produced from resources that generate no carbon emissions” – including solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, nuclear, and renewably sourced hydrogen – as well as energy generated from fossil fuels “to the extent that there is active capture and storage of carbon dioxide emissions” that meet Environmental Protection Agency requirements.

It also aims to procure electricity that matches actual consumption on an hourly basis and is produced within the same national grid where the energy is consumed.

The acquisition of clean energy is expected to be integrated into existing electricity procurements “in a phased approach over the course of several years, through both the transition of existing retail supply contracts and, where appropriate, new power generation procurements”. The aim is for each agency to increase its use of clean energy until it constitutes all of their electricity usage by 2030.

The RFI is also seeking input on how the government can achieve a series of climate goals outlined in the Federal Sustainability Plan, which accompanied the release of the executive order last year.

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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