Past and present US energy chiefs at odds over net-zero targets

Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Image credit: POWERGEN International

The keynote by former US energy secretary Rick Perry proved to be the main talking point in a varied opening session for DistribuTECH International and POWERGEN International this week, writes Nigel Blackaby in Dallas.

Perry’s message in support of fossil fuels and nuclear energy would have landed well with part of the audience, but others may have been surprised that he railed so hard against “so-called experts” while telling the audience that future generations would thank authorities if they were “truthful” with us about the realities of the net-zero targets.

Perry’s remarks contrasted with those by the current US Energy Secretary, Jennifer Grandholm, who was at pains to point out how much the current administration is supporting renewable energy and nuclear as well as the Energy Earth Shots aimed at boosting emerging technologies like long-duration energy storage.

Grandholm described the US energy grid as a great achievement of the 20th century but said it “was not prepared for the risks and threats of the 21st Century.” She said that greater robustness would be achieved by rolling out more home-grown renewables.

Watch: POWERGEN International 2022 Day 2 recap
POWERGEN International 2022 gets under way in Dallas

The keynote in Dallas began with some predications from Tom Deitrich, CEO of Itron, including the claim that we will see tremendous growth in the type of “edge intelligence” that will provide a fuller understanding of how the grid is functioning second by second and the central processing of this data will signal actions to be taken by grid operators. “The grid of the future will be very different – a living, breathing, agile thing,” said Deitrich.

Jim Greer, COO of Oncor, the largest electric delivery utility in Texas, paid tribute to the importance of the event taking place in Dallas this week, arguing that the technologies being discussed and innovations being revealed this week would likely become the staple technologies in ten years’ time.

Report by Nigel Blackaby, content director, Enlit Europe

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Nigel Blackaby is based in the UK and is currently Content Director at Clarion Events and Associate Editor for Power Engineering International. He has been working in energy media and conferences for the past 20 years. Nigel held various positions since joining PennWell, including director of conferences and editor of Power Engineering International and Middle East Energy magazines. He has written editorials, business and technical features and reported news of the global power industry from electricity generation through to transmission and distribution. He has curated energy conferences and chaired advisory boards in Europe, Asia, Africa and Russia and was event director for POWER-GEN Middle East and POWER-GEN Africa. With Clarion Events’ acquisition of PennWell, Nigel has joined the team focused on developing content for Enlit Europe.

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