Net-zero carbon commitments went mainstream in 2020. There are now 22 regions, 452 cities and over 1,100 companies with revenue over $11 trillion that have pledged to bring emissions to net-zero by the middle of the century. 

In 2021 we’re going to spend a lot of time working backward from that. We’ll be trying to understand the pathways to get to net-zero and what it means for today — for the technology and business of decarbonization.

That brings us to this week’s guest: Jesse Jenkins, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton. He’s a well-known expert in the domain of energy-system modeling.

Last month Jesse and a team of colleagues at Princeton came out with a massive study called Net-Zero America that examines five pathways for the U.S. to decarbonize the entire economy.

Even without reading the report, you can probably guess some of the key points: More renewables. More transmission. Electrify transportation. Carbon capture and carbon removal. But there are some other conclusions that are less obvious.

As more and more renewables come online, how will biomass, fossil fuels and hydrogen will fit into the multiple pathways to transition? We also examine the chicken-and-egg problem of CO2 transportation and CO2 conversion. And we ask how much these massive transition scenarios are going to cost and who is paying for them.

The Interchange is brought to you by the Yale Program in Financing and Deploying Clean Energy. Through this online program, Yale University is training working professionals in clean energy policy, finance and technology, accelerating the deployment of clean energy worldwide and mitigating climate change. To connect with Yale expertise, grow your professional network and deepen your impact, apply before March 14, 2021.

We're also brought to you by Nextracker. Nextracker is building connected power plants of the future by integrating new solar technologies, storage and advanced control software. At the end of the show, we’ll feature part 3 of our series on the future of solar technologies with Nextracker CEO and industry veteran Dan Shugar.