Biden: Replace US Government Fleet with EVs

News outlets like Reuters are reporting that:

President Joe Biden on Monday vowed to replace the U.S. government’s fleet of roughly 650,000 vehicles with electric models as the new administration shifts its focus toward clean-energy.

CleanTechnica reports on some of the challenges in making it happening, but saying first:

While the overall goal is probably not 100% possible during Biden’s 4 or 8 years, it is definitely possible to electrify most federal government vehicles if done over time and in conjunction with massive improvements to charging infrastructure (another Biden campaign promise).

The article notes that Biden’s campaign pages promise:

.. 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations — to create good jobs in industries supporting vehicle electrification.

Challenges noted by CleanTechnica  include:

  1. Practical: Some of the federal government’s fleet works in remote areas that are unlikely to ever have the infrastructure needed for the EVs.
  2. Legal: Biden can probably, through executive order, make this happen. If he tried to mandate states to transition to EVs for federal funding, he would probably have to go through Congress.
  3. Infrastructure: Biden will have to make good on the his promise of 500,000 charging stations. Alas,”Even with funding, it’s going to take a lot of time to get all those stations put in…The planning, permitting, electrical work, approvals, and activation are all slow processes for high-powered DC fast charging stations. Even a completed station could take months at times to be turned on at the end. Don’t count on this all happening in Biden’s first four years, and be very surprised if it starts to really take shape in two terms.
  4. Political: “In the time it would take to get this plan going really well, a lot can happen. There are elections in 2022, 2024, 2026, and 2028. Any of these elections could create setbacks for this ambitious program…To get anything done, a coalition would have to agree to the plan.”
  5. Industry: Biden wants union jobs, Tesla for example opposes unions. So who gets the contracts?

Will it happen? CleanTechica writer   thinks it will, writing:

Even if everything doesn’t go perfectly right for this plan, there is a lot of inertia behind it…Cost benefits over the lives of federally owned vehicles are also extremely hard to ignore… It will only be increasingly hard for fiscal conservatives to justify the purchase of anything but EVs as prices continue to fall.

Despite the challenges, Biden’s plan is likely to succeed, but the challenges must be planned for and planned around to make the program a success. 

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EV Global Sales Rose 43% in 2020; Tipping Point Near

The Guardian reports:

Electric vehicles are close to the “tipping point” of rapid mass adoption thanks to the plummeting cost of batteries, experts say.

“Grand Canyon National Park Electric Vehicle Charging Stations: Yavapai Lodge 6654” by Grand Canyon NPS is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Global sales rose 43% in 2020, but even faster growth is anticipated when continuing falls in battery prices bring the price of electric cars dipping below that of equivalent petrol and diesel models, even without subsidies. The latest analyses forecast that to happen some time between 2023 and 2025.

In Norway EVs make up 54% of all new car sales. The article continues that EVs:

…are already cheaper to run, their higher purchase price is a barrier to mass uptake. The other key factor is “range anxiety”, but this week the first factory production began of batteries capable of giving a 200-mile charge in five minutes

BloombergNEF’s analysis predicts lithium-ion battery costs will fall to the extent that electric cars will match the price of petrol and diesel cars by 2023…

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Biden Immediately Makes Climate Friendly Decrees

In a sentence the Washington Post provides an  excellent summary of how President Joe Biden will immediately take aggressive action to face the world’s climate crisis. It reads:

President Biden speaks at an event in Jackson, MS standing in front of an American flagBiden’s push includes blocking the Keystone XL pipeline, restarting climate diplomacy and shifting the nation away from fossil fuels

The story adds:

During his first moments in the Oval Office on Wednesday, President Biden returned the United States to the Paris climate accord and directed federal agencies to begin unraveling Donald Trump’s environmental policies…

Here is another Washington Post story with a list of pending climate related reversals of Trump policy.

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French Oil Company Ends Ties with American Trade Group

Last week marked another sign that big oil’s stand on climate change is faltering. This from the Washington Post:

French oil giant Total said Friday that it is quitting the American Petroleum Institute, becoming the first major petroleum company to leave the trade group.

Total said it was acting in line with the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change and that it could not reconcile differences with API over carbon pricing, subsidies for electric vehicles and the regulation of methane emissions.

And:

Total also criticized API for supporting candidates during the recent U.S. elections who argued against U.S. participation in the Paris agreement.

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Biden Wants Clean Air, Trump EPA Moves to Prevent It

Politico reports:

“Factory-Smoke-from-Sugarcane-Company-Florida” by Captain Kimo is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In a surprise move, the Environmental Protection Agency …will unveil a climate rule that will effectively prohibit the future regulation of greenhouse gases from any stationary industry other than power plants.

The rule comes just eight days before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who has pledged a multitrillion-dollar initiative that would combat climate change by making sharp cuts in the United States’ carbon dioxide pollution. The new regulation could hamstring much of that agenda, for example by prohibiting Biden’s EPA from setting carbon limits on oil and gas wells or refineries.

Here is what environmentalists said:

“EPA is perverting the Clean Air Act to ensure that no industry other than the power sector ever has to cut its climate pollution,” said David Doniger, senior strategic director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate & Clean Energy program.

“This unlawful rule is a transparent attempt to erect roadblocks to protecting public health and the environment for the new administration,” said Jay Duffy, an attorney for a group called the Clean Air Task Force.

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WSJ: More Investment Money Than Ever Flows to Clean Energy

The Wall Street Journal reports: More Money is Flowing into Green Energy Than Ever Before. Here’s Why:

Investors have been pouring more money than ever into renewable energies such as solar and wind. WSJ looks at how the pandemic, lower energy costs and global politics have driven the rally–and whether it can last.

See its video to learn more.

 

 

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Experts: Era of big battery storage has arrived

A lithium-ion battery that cost $1,183 in 2010 cost just $137 in 2020, the age of competitive big battery storage has arrived, according to Eric Gimon, a policy adviser for the think tank Energy Innovation. Speaking of two large battery projects, one in California and one in Florida, he told Inside Clean Energy :

“I feel like we have crossed a threshold. That’s important, a signpost that we’re moving into a new era.”

Here is more from Yale Environment 360 published at the Yale School of the Environment

The twin smokestacks of the Moss Landing Power Plant tower over Monterey Bay. Visible for miles along this picturesque stretch of the Northern California coast, the 500-foot-tall pillars crown what was once California’s largest electric power station — a behemoth natural gas-fired generator. Today, as California steadily moves to decarbonize its economy, those stacks are idle and the plant is largely mothballed. Instead, the site is about to begin a new life as the world’s largest battery, storing excess energy when solar panels and wind farms are producing electricity and feeding it back into the grid when they’re not.

It adds the two large batteries which will go online this year:

will be able to discharge enough electricity to power roughly 300,000 California homes for four hours during evenings, heatwaves, and other times when energy demand outstrips supply, according to project developer Vistra Energy.

Plus a recent report concludes:

most fossil fuel power plants in the U.S. will reach the end of their working life by 2035, experts say that the time for rapid growth in industrial-scale energy storage is at hand.

And:

Batteries are beginning to reach a size that enables renewables to replace medium-sized natural gas generators.

“That’s mainly because they are forced to cycle on and off much more now because of solar penetration,” says Yiyi Zhou, a renewable power systems specialist with Bloomberg NEF. “This adds wear-and-tear, and shortens their lifetime.”

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Solar, Wind Power Boosted by Stimulus Bill

Photo illustration by focusonmore.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Covid 19 Stimulus Bill, waiting for President Trump’s signature,  has excellent Holiday Season news for clean energy and greenhouse reduction advocates. Here is what Inside Energy News writes:

In what Senate leaders are hailing as the single biggest victory in the fight against climate change to pass the U.S. Congress in a decade, Democratic and Republican lawmakers approved bipartisan legislation that will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and further provide incentives for renewable energy developments.

It’s happening, in part, because, according to the Insider Clean Energy newsletter:

Support for clean energy is becoming less partisan, with more Republicans seeing the economic benefits of projects in their states or districts.

Inside Energy News list some highlights:

  • The solar investment tax credit got a two-year extension. This up-front credit will continue at its 2020 level in 2021 and 2022, and then phase down after that.
  • The wind production tax credit will get an extra year, meaning it will now be available for new projects that qualify before the end of 2021. This credit is based on the amount of electricity a project produces in its first 10 years.
  • Offshore wind gets its own investment tax credit, which will last for five years before a phasedown, and is retroactive to 2017. Under current law, offshore wind can qualify for an investment tax credit, but it is phasing out right as the offshore wind industry is on the cusp of a building boom.

The latter is big for New England, because as Dan Gearino of Insider Clean Energy  points out, the tax credit could help advance the proposed offshore Vineyard Wind 1 project. Offshore magazine writes: 

According to the company, the project is expected to power more than 400,000 homes and businesses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and reduce carbon emissions by more than 1.6 million tons per year.

Also in the bill, as we reported earlier, is a phase out of hydrofluorocarbons over the next 15 years. Inside Clean Energy writes:

an analysis by the Rhodium Group says will cut emissions equivalent to 900 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, more than the total annual emissions in Germany.

All of which is great Christmas Day news as long as a Grinch in the White House doesn’t torpedo it.

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Apple aims to produce autonomous, electric vehicle by 2024

Reuters reported earlier this week that:

Apple Inc is moving forward with self-driving car technology and is targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology.

“Blue Apple Logo” by wicker_man is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The story is continuing evidence that electric vehicles (EVs)  soon will be displacing the combustion engine and eventually become the dominate means of transportation. Of course, this is good new for the climate and a reminder that towns like Sandwich must start planning for this upcoming reality.

 

 

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A Trend: Decarbonizing Atmosphere Will Boost Economy

We have been saying it for a while, but it is again reinforced in this Atlantic Magazines Weekly Planet newsletter:

taken together…the world’s most powerful financial institutions believe that the future is decarbonized—and that, far from hurting the economy, climate action is likely to help it.

Other important news from 2020:

  1. Bipartisan bill that Congress just passed…commits the U.S. to phasing out a type of chemical called hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. Though normally used in refrigerators or air conditioners, HFCs can escape into the atmosphere and trap heat thousands of times more effectively than carbon dioxide.
  2. China is willing to compete with the West over who can cut carbon the fastest.
  3. Operation Warp Speed, the federal program to develop COVID-19 vaccines, has produced two safe and effective vaccines within a year of the virus’s discovery. A similar approach could work if applied to clean energy and other climate tech, too.
  4. European Union leaders agreed to strengthen the Continent’s climate goals and pledged a new target of 55 percent greenhouse-gas reduction by 2030. The old goal was a 40 percent cut by that year.

You can sign up for the free Weekly Planet newsletter here.

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