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Jennifer Wilcox, US Department of Energy
Host: Prof. Jay Werber
President Biden has laid out a bold and ambitious goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions in the U.S. by 2050. The pathway to that target includes cutting total greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and eliminating them entirely from the Nation’s electricity sector by 2035. Investment in technology research, design, development, and deployment (RDD&D) will be required to achieve the president’s objectives, including investments in both carbon capture at point sources in addition to carbon dioxide removal approaches that target the accumulated pool of carbon in the atmosphere. Both will be required to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in time and they will require increased deployment in order to move down the cost curve. These efforts combined with effective policy will make these approaches economically viable.
These approaches are critical and they must be deployed in parallel. Deployment of these technologies at the scale required will necessitate the use of resources including land, water, and in some cases, low-carbon energy, while ensuring the secure and reliable storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) on a timescale that impacts climate. Therefore, CCS and CDR deployment must be implemented strategically in terms of regional goals and requirements.
The Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management will play an important role in the transition to net-zero carbon emissions by reducing the environmental impacts of fossil energy production and use – and helping decarbonize other hard-to abate sectors – through investments in technology solutions including CCS, direct air capture, and the deployment of carbon capture technologies to produce low-carbon products and fuel, including hydrogen.
Professor Jennifer Wilcox, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (Acting Assistant Secretary) in the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management at DOE and is on leave as the Presidential Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, as a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute, she led WRI’s Carbon Removal Program.
Having grown up in rural Maine, Dr. Wilcox has a profound respect and appreciation of nature. That appreciation permeates her work; she focuses on minimizing climate and environmental impacts of our dependence on fossil fuels.
Dr. Wilcox holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering and an M.A. in Chemistry from the University of Arizona and B.A. in Mathematics from Wellesley College. Dr. Wilcox’s research takes aim at the nexus of energy and the environment, developing both mitigation and adaptation strategies to minimize negative climate impacts associated with society’s dependence on fossil fuels. She has served on committees of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Physical Society to assess carbon capture methods and impacts on climate. She is the author of the first textbook on carbon capture, Carbon Capture, published in March 2012. She co-edited the CDR Primer on carbon dioxide removal in 2021.