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US Releases Latest Critical and Emerging Technologies List, Clean Energy in Spotlight

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Energy

Recently, the latest version of the “Critical and Emerging Technologies List” compiled by the US Critical and Emerging Technologies Rapid Channel Action Committee was officially released, covering hot areas such as artificial intelligence, advanced computing, biotechnology, and the increasingly emphasized clean energy technologies due to climate concerns.

Compared to the 2022 version, advanced nuclear energy has been incorporated into the clean energy category, leading to an overall improvement in rankings.

In 2020, the US released the “National Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technologies,” forming the Critical and Emerging Technologies List, also known as the CET list. At that time, the US National Science and Technology Committee established the US Critical and Emerging Technologies Rapid Channel Action Committee, with chairs from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Security Council, and members from 18 government departments and agencies such as the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Science Foundation. One of the main tasks of this committee is to research and identify critical and emerging technologies, forming a list to provide reference for national security and technological development.

In 2022, the list underwent an update, and in mid-February of this year, the list underwent a second update.

Comparatively, the 2020 version included 20 key technologies, with the top three being advanced computing, advanced conventional weapons technology, and advanced engineering materials; in the energy field, relevant technologies were collectively referred to as energy technologies, appearing in 15th place.

However, in the 2022 version, the list was reduced to 18 items, with advanced computing still listed first, followed by advanced engineering materials and advanced gas turbine engine technology. The energy field was further refined, with renewable energy generation and storage technologies included in the list, appearing in 16th place, while advanced nuclear energy technology was separately listed in 7th place.

In the latest 2024 version of the list, it still contains 18 technologies, with the top three remaining as advanced computing, advanced engineering materials, and advanced gas turbine engine technology. Additionally, artificial intelligence appears in 6th place, and biotechnology in 7th place. There have been significant changes in the energy field once again. Firstly, the name has changed again to clean energy generation and storage technologies, in line with the emphasis on clean energy and its green attributes by the US government, scientific community, and energy sector in recent years. Additionally, nuclear energy technology has been merged into this category. In terms of appearance order, clean energy technologies now appear in 8th place, a significant improvement compared to the previous two versions. Media organizations generally analyze that this change reflects the continuous rise in the status of clean energy technologies in the United States in recent years.

2024 edition of the US Critical and Emerging Technologies List
2024 edition of the US Critical and Emerging Technologies List

The Updated Version of the List Includes 10 Specific Technology Categories in the Clean Energy Sector

In the 2022 edition of the list, the renewable energy generation and storage technologies category included specific technology categories such as renewable energy generation, renewable and sustainable fuel technologies, energy storage technologies, electric and hybrid propulsion systems, battery technologies, grid integration technologies, and energy-saving technologies. Additionally, the advanced nuclear energy field included several sub-items such as nuclear energy systems, nuclear fusion technology, space nuclear power, and propulsion systems.

In the latest 2024 edition of the list, the clean energy generation and storage technologies section includes 10 specific technology categories, namely: renewable energy generation technologies, renewable and sustainable fuel technologies, nuclear energy systems, nuclear fusion technology, energy storage technologies, electric and hybrid propulsion systems, battery technologies, grid integration technologies, energy-saving technologies, and carbon management technologies. Comparatively, there are minor changes in the specific technology categories, with the main addition being carbon management technologies. This reflects the US’s renewed commitment to the Paris Agreement and its focus on implementing more measures in the areas of climate change and carbon reduction.

From a technological perspective, advancements and breakthroughs in these areas are highly anticipated. The American Chemical Society (ACS) previously highlighted technological breakthroughs expected in 2024, including advancements in decarbonization and carbon management technologies, as well as breakthroughs in energy storage and nuclear power technologies. S&P Global Commodity Insights predicts continued growth in investments in the clean energy sector in the coming years, with ongoing advancements in related technologies. However, competition in solar energy, wind energy, and energy storage may intensify, potentially impacting corporate profits. Additionally, decarbonization technologies and products are increasingly favored by clean energy technology manufacturers. With the progress and improvement of carbon management and certification, 2024 may become a milestone year for carbon removal technologies (CDR).

From a macro perspective, according to the US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) forecasts, the US’s additional renewable energy capacity in 2024 will reach 62.8 GW, representing a year-on-year increase of approximately 55%. Solar energy will contribute significantly to this increase, doubling compared to the previous year and accounting for nearly 60% of the total. Energy storage additions will also exceed 20%. In terms of electricity generation, the combined electricity generation from solar and wind energy will surpass that from coal. According to forecasts, the US’s additional photovoltaic installed capacity from 2023 to 2030 will reach 358 GW (approximately 33 GW added in 2023), with the growth rate expected to accelerate further from 2024 if energy policies remain stable.

It’s worth noting that following the release of the 2022 “Inflation Reduction Act,” the development of clean energy in the US has accelerated. The American Clean Energy Association previously claimed that in the past two years, the US has constructed or expanded over a hundred large-scale utility-scale solar, wind, and energy storage manufacturing facilities, equivalent to starting a new project almost every four days, creating over 40,000 new jobs. Concurrently, there has been a surge in the localization of new energy manufacturing in the US, which has impacted the exports of photovoltaic, wind power, and battery products from other countries.

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