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Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz on Energy Innovation in the Western Hemisphere


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(Image: Mark Finkenstaedt)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Speakers:

  • Ernest Moniz, Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Robert Mosbacher, Jr., Chairman, Mosbacher Energy (interviewer)

In an interview with Chairman of the AS/COA Energy Action Group Rob Mosbacher, Jr., U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz spoke on falling oil prices, climate change, integration opportunities, and knowledge sharing.

One of the main issues in the region is falling oil prices, which have impacted companies and countries that are major producers of hydrocarbons. Moniz pointed out that he wouldn’t say prices are “collapsing,” and that the effects of shift are actually quite varied. He spoke to the deteriorating economic situation in Venezuela, which is dependent on oil exports for a large part of its national income. In addition, dropping oil prices affect the Caribbean, whose countries are major importers.

Moniz emphasized the importance of natural gas in the region, given that it’s a type of energy that can be employed to diversify fuel usage towards more affordable sources. The Department of Energy (DOE) has published a “playbook” for these countries, using the experience of Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands as case studies.

With the theme of the conference—innovation and integration—in mind, Moniz said opportunities exist for integration along the lines of energy infrastructure, with an increased focus on North America. Moniz also stated that the energy reforms in Mexico offers “incredible integration opportunities” and that the DOE is working with the Mexican energy secretariat to support Mexico’s recent climate declaration. With regards to knowledge sharing, Moniz focused on cooperation between the United States and other countries in the hemisphere when it comes to data and modeling activity.

Finally, Moniz pointed to renewable energy development in the Americas as an area that is no longer part of the future. “We are in the revolution, driven by cost-reduction of technologies,” he stated. Renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind, LED lighting, energy storage, and geothermal are all making inroads in the hemisphere. According to Moniz, the United States is poised to contribute to the Americas’ sustainable energy solutions, which may also include nuclear energy, carbon capture, and sequestration. 



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