5 steps to make New Mexico the green energy capital of the US - Albuquerque Journal

5 steps to make New Mexico the green energy capital of the US

The Albuquerque Regional Economic Alliance (AREA) has crafted an impressive plan for the economic growth of Albuquerque and New Mexico.

AREA’s vision for renewable energy is: N.M. will become the green energy capital of the United States and the model for other markets in the future. This is consistent with N.M.’s Economic Development Department (EDD) strategic plan, which lists sustainable and green energy and sustainable agriculture as major arms of the state’s future economy.

Both AREA and EDD recognize making the state the green energy capital gives New Mexico a competitive advantage in recruiting and growing businesses. A strawman pathway to become the green energy capital of the U.S. follows:

1. New Mexico should invest in making our state the test laboratory for U.S.-built green energy technology. Doing this will challenge China’s current dominance in manufacturing green energy technology by creating a U.S. market for U.S. firms in the green energy supply chain. Domestic market creation will stimulate private-sector innovation and investment in New Mexico and encourage additional federal climate spending here. It was federal market creation rather than its research that kicked off the semiconductor, internet and satellite industries.

2. If New Mexico follows U.S. environmental policy and transitions to carbon neutrality at the same rate as other states and becomes carbon neutral in 2050, it will not give us the competitive advantage it needs to earn the title: U.S. Green Energy Capital. We must target 2035 for the majority of New Mexico to become carbon neutral.

3. Russia’s saber-rattling has highlighted the need for energy security at essential defense establishments. The federal government should construct microgrids operated by N.M. utilities at defense facilities throughout New Mexico. These microgrids would be powered by on-facility-located electric power generation using modular nuclear power, solar power, geothermal, wind power and energy storage. Cost/benefit analysis of these options must include externalities, e.g. benefit of precious metals like lithium recovered from geothermal waste. Waste heat would be utilized where practical. Transportation at these facilities would become carbon neutral by providing free charging for employees’ electric vehicles purchased by the employees at fleet rates. Each of these microgrids would have a single interface to the state’s upgraded smart grid, with that interface protected by advanced cybersecurity.

4. In return for federal support, New Mexico would permit the construction of a spent nuclear fuel rod storage facility funded by federal or private sources. It would reciprocate federal efforts by making major state facilities carbon neutral by 2035 including employee transportation.

5. The N.M. capital city of Santa Fe, including transportation, should be made fully carbon neutral by 2035. Santa Fe’s exposure to tourists from around the world would serve as a world beacon for carbon neutrality and further grow tourism throughout New Mexico.

To address the issue of New Mexico becoming the U.S. Green Energy Capital, our governor should appoint a Green Energy Capital Task Force that includes state energy experts, the oil and natural gas sectors, N.M. utilities, the state’s congressional delegation, the U.S. Department of Energy, members of the state Legislature and the New Mexico Chamber of Commerce.

James Gover earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering and a doctorate in nuclear engineering from the University of New Mexico and spent 35 years with Sandia Labs, including five years working on energy research and development and 10 years working on national policy. He also spent 13 years at Kettering University on research and teaching of electric vehicle technology.

 

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