Biden Order Will Boost Heat Pumps and Building Insulation

Biden Order Will Boost Heat Pumps and Building Insulation thumbnail

CLIMATEWIRE | Solar panels are getting their moment in the sun after President Joe Biden yesterday invoked the Defense Production Act to jump-start the renewable energy sector.

But, just as important and less flashy are two other things Biden’s orders seek to boost: heat pumps & insulation.

These products will be crucial for decarbonizing the difficult-to-reach construction sector. Experts believe that Biden’s order will revive U.S. manufacturing using green technology in the best case scenario.

” The importance of this cannot understated,” stated Ari Matusiak CEO of Rewiring America, an organization that promotes electrifying America’s economy. “It’s a big move by the administration.”

Homes and commercial buildings emitted 13 percent of U.S. climate pollution in 2020, according to EPA. This is smaller than electricity or transportation, but buildings present a unique challenge due to its fragmentation.

Advocates believe that Biden’s order can help them overcome this challenge.

Buildings tend to be governed primarily by local codes, rather than federal regulations. The fossil fuel industry has strongly resisted efforts by climate activists for cities to ban natural gas from new buildings.

This has left decarbonization of building largely in the hands market forces. The slow turnover of U.S. buildings stock and the high upfront cost for electric appliances have slowed down the transition. Experts even predict an increase in commercial building emissions via 2050..

Biden’s orders could change that by reshaping economics of decarbonizing buildings.

By invoking The Defense Production Act, Biden guarantees manufacturers that the government will buy heat pumps and insulation that are not available on the market.

The idea is to encourage firms to increase their manufacturing capacity. This will help lower prices, according to Todd Tucker, director for industrial policy at the Roosevelt Institute.

He stated that the government is sending a message for manufacturers to make capital expenditures because we will be the market. Don’t be concerned about the lack of a market or whether households or firms will shift to another technology. We’ll take care of that. Make it .”

Biden already tried to use the federal government’s purchasing power to help U.S. companies move towards green tech. Tucker said that this is a significant step because the government has the authority to purchase heat pumps for private use.

The administration could give heat pumps it purchased under the Defense Production Act to front line communities for free or at a discounted price to help achieve its environmental justice goals.

Industry organizations praised Biden’s move, with conservative National Association of Manufacturers hailing the decision as a positive step forward for the sector.

” This is the type collaborative, long-term leadership that manufacturers need to improve our energy security,” Jay Timmons (CEO of NAM) wrote on Twitter.

Biden is moving to increase the supply side in the heat pump market. Advocates also want to increase demand through tax credits and rebates, which were part of the Democrats’ stalled reconciliation legislation.

Without more demand, contractors and suppliers aren’t pushing heat pump into the housing market. There aren’t many heat pumps on the market so homeowners don’t want them. This could be because they are expensive upfront or because they don’t know much about them.

” There’s a kind of a “chicken-and-egg” dynamic going on,” said Matusiak from Rewiring America. He added that Biden’s order might help break that cycle.

The Energy Department stated that the U.S. insulation production is sufficient to supply new buildings at this time. However, retrofitting older buildings will require more.

Some heat pumps and insulation could be sent to Europe as Europe is now facing an even more difficult energy crisis after Russia’s invasion.

The administration has used the Defense Production Act to counter Russia’s influence on energy markets.

That idea has been pushed for months by climate activist Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org.

Three days after Russian President Vladimir Putin began his invasion of Ukraine, McKibben argued that the administration’s moves to boost oil and gas production were wrongheaded — but shipping heat pumps and insulation to Europe would be a way to “peacefully punch Putin in the kidneys.”

Yesterday, McKibben called the move a “breakthrough” from a “heretofore timid administration.”

” This is real and important!” he wrote in a tweet.

Reprinted from E&E News with permission from P

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