Princeton's Jesse Jenkins discusses the goals and challenges of achieving net-zero

Written by
Liz Fuller-Wright
Liz Fuller-Wright, Office of Communications
Aug. 25, 2023

Princeton University’s Jesse Jenkins, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, has been a key player in shaping national climate legislation, including the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. 

Jenkins was a lead author of the Net-Zero America project, research that investigated what it would take for the U.S. to achieve an economy-wide target of net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. 

In a new Q&A, Jenkins discusses what's been achieved since the the Net-Zero America research came out and since the passage of the IRA, along with the challenges left to solve. 

"We’ve really come a long way," Jenkins said. "If you think about the kinds of technologies we said we’d need to develop in this decade in order to be ready for wide-scale use in the 2030s and 2040s — if you go down that list, we now have policy support for almost all of them."

But there is still much to do, he noted, such as upgrading our electrical infrastructure. "Our electrical demand will more than double over the next two and a half decades, so that’s an enormous challenge," he said. "We’re not going to be able to get there, to both build clean energy and more than double our electricity supply, with today’s electricity, transmission and distribution grid." 


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