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The US may miss its net-zero targets by half, report warns

Without a major restructure of energy project delivery, America may miss its net-zero targets by half, warns a new report. 

The report, which was published by Princeton University and engineering company Worley outlines that in order to reach net-zero we need a profound rethink of our energy system and infrastructure approach. 

Under one pathway to reach net-zero, individual solar projects with the area equivalent of 260 Tokyo Olympic stadiums will need to be built every week from now until 2050. 

In another pathway, more than 250 large nuclear power stations will be needed. Under current processes, one such nuclear plant can take up to 20 years to get operational. 

For nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities to be operational by 2050, they all must be in the planning stages by 2030 due to the length of development and build times.

Based on this, the authors of the report highlight that infrastructure project timelines must be realistically planned.

The report also outlines five key shifts, these include the redefinition of project value, shifting emphasis to environmental value, collaboration and knowledge sharing between governments, industry and communities and a full embrace of data and digitalisation. 

white and blue clouds

Dr Chris Greig, senior research scientist said: ‘We are seeing increasing numbers of net-zero pledges coming from companies, governments and international bodies around the world.

‘While these ambitions should be applauded in the face of increasing risks from climate change, we must also examine how to make the goals become reality.

‘We are very pleased to be continuing our work on energy transitions, this time with Worley, on the delivery of supply-side infrastructure, to help inform policy, investment decisions and business strategies to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.’

Dr Paul Ebert group director of the energy transition at Worley said: ‘We hope our work with Princeton University will help to equip key players in the industry with strategic guidance for the path ahead, using breakthrough thinking, and shift the focus from what technologies we need, to how to get them built, working to deliver a more sustainable world for us all.’

Photo by DDP

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