Saturday, April 23, 2022

Allegheny Conference Report: Decarbonization, Energy Transition Are Critical To The Future Competitiveness Of Pittsburgh Region

The report is the result of a year’s worth of work by the 25+-member Allegheny Conference Energy Task Force, whose members represent southwestern Pennsylvania’s public and private sectors, as well as academia and philanthropy.

In addition to setting a baseline and acknowledging progress that’s been made, the report provides research-grounded insights to support a regional strategy to accelerate decarbonization – critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions – while driving investment, employment and inclusive growth to the benefit of people and places across southwestern Pennsylvania.  

It also details actions, near- and longer-term, that will need to be taken by regional stakeholders, working in partnership, to realize southwestern Pennsylvania’s full potential in a low-carbon future.

Key Takeaways

-- Baseline

-- Energy and Energy-Intensive Sectors are significant contributors to the diverse economy of the Pittsburgh region. In 2019, the Energy Sector1 and Energy-Intensive Sectors represented 24% of gross regional product (GRP) and 14% of regional employment

-- All of this contributes significantly to GHG emissions. On a per capita basis, emissions are approximately 50-55% higher in southwestern Pennsylvania than in the state or the nation as a whole.5 The largest drivers of the per capita difference are power emissions (coal and natural gas) and industrial emissions (coal mining, iron and steel production and oil and gas extraction).

-- The industrial and power sectors make up 76% of emissions. The top five sources of total emissions were: coal power (25%); natural gas power (14%); passenger vehicles (11%); coal mining (9%); and iron and steel manufacturing (9%).

-- As we think about the Energy Transition, we must address the impacts of the economic and workforce transition at the same time. It is critical that no one and no community be left behind. Success will require public policy interventions, significant investment in upskilling and improved connectivity to make sure workers and communities can access new opportunities being created.

-- Where We're Headed

-- Decarbonization is one action we can take to maintain the economic competitiveness of the Pittsburgh region, improve our attractiveness to industries seeking solutions and meet the climate challenges posed by GHG emissions.

--  If we do nothing, the region is likely to match the current U.S. trajectory, which will fall short of what has been estimated to be required in the U.S. to avoid potentially dangerous global climate changes. This would make our region less and less attractive for global investment. If we act now, we become more competitive for capital investment and job creation.

-- Next Steps

Six primary enablers have been identified as necessary to accelerating the region’s energy transition:

1. First movers are the regional leaders who will drive implementation of decarbonization levers at scale (e.g., CCUS, hydrogen and nuclear power). They will influence regional stakeholders to take critical enabling actions.

2. Stakeholder education and support will be needed to gain support for decarbonization levers and the associated infrastructure footprint. Messaging and communications must be developed with stakeholders across diverse interests.

3. Competitive statutes, policies and regulations at local, state and federal levels must be implemented to aid safe, equitable and expedited deployment of decarbonization solutions, particularly regarding hydrogen generation and transport and CCUS.

4. Government funding will be essential to finance build-out of critical decarbonization infrastructure ( e.g., CCUS hub).

5. New workforce development initiatives are required to develop talent and transfer regional skills from  legacy industries to emerging opportunities.

6. An interdependent network of infrastructure across multiple technologies (e.g., Carbon Dioxide pipeline, CCS, EV charging and solar installations) must be built.

The energy transition is critical to the future competitiveness of the Pittsburgh region, and it will require collaboration among government, industry and academia to fully realize our potential. 

Much as our region became known worldwide for environmental transformation in the middle of the 20th century and economic transformation soon after the turn of the century, we can establish leadership in energy transformation in the 21st century, and position ourselves to compete in the cleaner, lower-carbon world to come.

Click Here for a copy of the full report.


-- NextPittsburgh: Allegheny Conference Report Charts ‘Middle Path’ For Western PA’s Energy Future

[Posted: April 23, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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