Letter Back from the ‘Clean Energy Future,’ Part B

by admin on January 3, 2021

The all electric home is in our future if not already

A Love Letter From the Clean Energy Future, Part B

From an Article by Mary Anne Hitt, Sierra Magazine, January – February, 2021

Second, we got well on our way toward electrifying everything. Here in 2030, one of the best parts of the energy transition is that it has made our lives healthier. After social media icons spread the word about how gas stoves create indoor air pollution linked to asthma in kids, families rushed to their local home-improvement stores to replace gas ranges with electric induction stovetops.

Local governments passed thousands of ordinances calling for all-electric construction in new buildings, which created enough pressure for national standards. New businesses started popping up to help homeowners save money while pulling polluting gas appliances out of their homes. And the Department of Energy created programs to ensure that low-income families could make the switch affordably.

Meanwhile, on the transportation front, states such as California and New Jersey set a 2035 target date for phasing out internal-combustion-engine cars, and national standards followed. States also put in place standards requiring that buses and large trucks go all-electric, which dramatically reduced air pollution in communities of color and big port and shipping centers including California’s Inland Empire, New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

After COVID-19 made Americans realize the importance of walkable cities and accessible public transportation, Congress included funding in infrastructure bills for clean and affordable public transit, biking, and walking options. The number of family-sustaining jobs skyrocketed as Americans were put to work building electric cars, trucks, and buses as well as transit and charging-station infrastructure.

Part C of this Article will appear here tomorrow in FrackCheckWV.net.

The entire Article appeared in the January/February edition of Sierra with the headline “A Love Letter From the Clean Energy Future.”

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See also: FRACKING THE FUTURE — How Unconventional Gas Threatens our Water, Health and Climate, DeSmog Blog, 2011

Unconventional gas drilling and fracking are emerging as very controversial energy & environmental issues in the United States and around the World.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeffrey Schub January 3, 2021 at 10:54 am

How to safely put Americans to work building clean energy infrastructure

BY JEFFREY SCHUB, COALITION FOR GREEN CAPITAL, NOV 19, 2020

The jobs situation in America remains grim. This week saw a rise in the number of initial claims for jobless benefits, just as the virus is surging. And the number of “long-term” unemployed ticked up over 3 million. There are still 10 million fewer jobs prior to the pandemic. And the true number of those in need of work is far higher, with approximately 20 million collecting unemployment, and millions more out of the labor force entirely.

The measures put in place by Congress back in the spring have proven woefully inadequate to address the situation. One-off checks to families were spent long ago. PPP loans made to businesses in the hopes they kept employees on payroll were not large enough to sustain many. Bailouts to large corporations like airlines only delayed massive layoffs. And the Fed’s liquidity programs for mid-sized businesses were never used in the first place.

The strategy of putting the economy “into the economic equivalent of a medically induced coma” seemed sensible back in the spring. But this has lasted far longer than those short-term measures were designed for. Realistically we are not close to a return to normal, so we have to consider how to put people back to work safely so families can sustain themselves.

There are workers who cannot and should not work until there is vaccination due to health risks. This is where new, but sustained, relief spending is needed. But for others, we need genuine job-creating stimulus to put people back to work where it is possible to do so safely. The prior jobs in tourism, dining, and travel simply don’t exist anymore, though. So jobs in new sectors have to be created.

It turns out construction and clean energy are ideal places to put Americans back to work. Job creation in the construction industry writ large has been steady throughout the year, adding nearly 800,000 jobs back in the last 6 months. And even without a shred of federal support, nearly 200,000 clean energy jobs have been created in the last 5 months.

This is part of a larger global trend. Global renewable electricity installations will hit record levels in 2020. Ninety percent of all newly installed power generation capacity in the world will be renewable this year.

How is this possible during Covid? It turns out that outdoor construction work is relatively safe during the pandemic. And office buildings sit empty across the country, creating an ideal opportunity for safe building upgrades for efficiency and clean energy. And in OSHA’s categorization of risky tasks per occupation, it deems no construction-related tasks have a “very high” risk of Covid.

This all matches perfectly with the cornerstone pledge of President-Elect Biden’s campaign. Perhaps his most salient policy commitment was to invest federal funds in the construction of clean energy infrastructure to create jobs.

The Clean Energy Accelerator is the critical, flexible tool that Congress and President-Elect Biden must adopt to take advantage of this job-creating opportunity. The formation of this national green bank would create millions of jobs, mobilize private investment, create small businesses, and drive targeted investment to frontline and disadvantaged communities. The Accelerator has passed the House 2x this year, and is endorsed and co-sponsored by VP-Elect Harris.

Flexibility is key. The Accelerator can direct its investments into specific sectors, project-types and geographies to create jobs where and when its possible. The Fed’s liquidity programs are a perfect example of what happens when Congress appropriates hundreds of billions of dollars to a static program that misses the mark because the economic situation is fluid. So flexibility is essential. And because the Accelerator leverages 3 private dollars for each public one, job creation is also multiplied by 3x.

It’s no longer viable for federal spending to focus purely on pandemic disaster relief. This has gone on too long to ignore the task of job creation where it is safe and viable to do so. Nothing fits this need than construction of clean energy infrastructure, and no policy is more fit-for-purpose than the Accelerator.

https://coalitionforgreencapital.com/how-to-safely-put-americans-to-work-building-clean-energy-infrastructure/

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Emily Pontecorvo January 3, 2021 at 11:13 am

Hot real estate tip: An all-electric home will probably save you money

From Emily Pontecorvo, Grist Magazine, October 23, 2020

Despite the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, at least one sector of the economy seems to be booming: residential construction. Specifically, the construction of single-family homes. Mortgage rates are low, and demand is high as work-from-home life has led many Americans to dream of having a bit more space. U.S. Census Bureau data released Tuesday shows that in September, permits for new single-family homes were up 24 percent compared to last year, and new construction was up 22 percent.

With the construction market thriving, a timely report published by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), a clean energy think tank, illustrates one way developers can keep energy costs and climate impacts down in these new homes: Go electric. The authors compared the cost of building an all-electric single-family home to a home hooked up to the gas system in seven cities around the U.S., and found that all-electric homes saved money and reduced carbon pollution in every case.

Only about one in four homes in the U.S. is fully electric, and the vast majority of them are concentrated in the Southeast, where winters are mild. Recent improvements in heat pump technology have made all-electric homes in colder parts of the country more feasible and economical, but adoption has been slow. In 2019, in the northeast, midwest, and west, more than 80 percent of new single-family homes were hooked up to gas.

The idea that all-electric homes can be cheaper to build and occupy, and will produce fewer emissions than homes hooked up to the gas system, is not new. Past studies, including by RMI, have already illustrated the potential upsides of building all-electric: Heat pumps, the most energy-efficient technology for heating homes with electricity, also provide air conditioning, and killing those two birds with one stone saves money upfront. In a lot of cases, going electric saves developers the cost of laying down a gas main. And ultimately, electric homes produce no emissions directly, since no fuels need to be burned on site.

But the new study goes a layer deeper, seeking to address some of the questions that “electrify everything” arguments typically raise — arguments like, isn’t gas usually a lot cheaper than electricity? And don’t the savings depend on the climate? (Californians aren’t going to be turning up the heat nearly as high or as often as New Yorkers or Bostonians.) And doesn’t it matter how cold it gets? (Houses built for extremely cold weather will need larger systems.) And don’t the climate benefits depend on how clean the electric grid is? (If your electricity comes from coal, that gas-fired boiler could start to look like the more climate-friendly option.)

The answer to all of these questions is yes. But taking these factors into account in this new study did not change the overwhelming results: In seven different cities, with seven different climates, all-electric single-family homes still won on the basis of both cost and emissions savings over an assumed 15-year equipment lifetime. The cities RMI analyzed were Austin, Texas; Boston, Massachusetts; Columbus, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; Minneapolis, Minnesota; New York, New York; and Seattle, Washington.

Consider Minneapolis, where the average low in January is a bitter 7.5 degrees F. A new home there would require a significantly higher-capacity — and more expensive — heat pump than in, say, Seattle. The up-front cost of building an all-electric home, with heat pumps, hot water heat pumps, and an electric stove, was found to be roughly the same as building a home hooked up to gas. And, as in most places, electricity rates are higher in Minneapolis than gas rates. So how did the electrified building win out?

It turns out, the electric utility in Minneapolis grants all-electric homes a lower electricity rate during the winter months. That discount, combined with the better efficiency of electric appliances compared to gas ones, meant that building an all-electric home would save you about $1,900 over a 15-year period. When taking into account how Minnesota’s grid is expected to change over the next decade and a half, RMI estimated that the electric home would also prevent 28 tons of CO2 emissions, or about the same as taking 28 round trip flights from New York to London.

Amar Shah, one of the authors of the report, said he believed their findings were conservative when it comes to CO2 mitigation. The model they used did not take into account some of the coal closures and renewable energy procurements announced in the past two years that will make the grid even cleaner in the coming decade in many states.

Despite recent jumps in new construction, it’s important to remember that most of us don’t live in new homes. Only 6 percent of U.S. homes were built in the last 10 years. And retrofitting an existing home to switch from gas to electric is a more complicated and expensive process than building from scratch, though many state utility programs now offer incentives to help offset the cost. RMI has a forthcoming report on the relative costs of retrofits in the same seven cities that will be released later this year.

But Shah said that quantifying the benefits of new all-electric homes could help push the market in the right direction, since one of the big factors holding back electrification is a lack of information among contractors about the technology. New homes are “the lowest-hanging fruit if we’re going to start making this transition and getting people signaled that these are technologies that they want to be familiar with,” he said.

https://grist.org/energy/hot-real-estate-tip-an-all-electric-home-will-probably-save-you-money/

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Tom Krisher January 13, 2021 at 11:55 pm

GENERAL MOTORS (GM) CHARGES UP NEW UNIT… BRIGHTDROP

Division aims to tap market for delivery vehicles, equipment powered by electricity

BY TOM KRISHER, AP auto writer, The Advocate, Baton Rouge, January 13, 2021

DETROIT – The market for batterypowered delivery vehicles and equipment has so much potential that General Motors is forming a new business unit to serve it.

The first product for the new venture called BrightDrop will be an electric-powered wheeled pallet that will take goods from the warehouse to trucks and from trucks to destinations. Then GM will roll out a clean electric delivery van.

The company wasn’t clear on just how the products would be sold, giving no specifics on whether they would be distributed through dealerships or if GM would sell directly to customers.

The pallet, named EP1, will go on sale early this year, with the EV600 van on the roads late in the year with FedEx, the company’s first customer.

BrightDrop also will offer software and operational support for delivery businesses such as location services, battery status and remote unlocking.

But GM doesn’t intend to get into the delivery business, said Pamela Fletcher, GM’s vice president of global innovation. ”One thing we are not is a logistics company,” she said, adding that GM is working with many companies with experience in the field.

Since late 2018, Fletcher has been in charge of monetizing GM technology by turning ideas into businesses. ”We really need to leverage our electrification expertise to other industries,” she said.

On a webcast, Fletcher said the EP1 pallet can travel up to 3 mph, carrying up to 23 cubic feet of cargo weighing up to 200 pounds. The pallets can reduce the strain on workers but would not operate autonomously, at least to start.

They’re already being tested with FedEx, allowing workers to transport 25% more packages per day, GM said in a statement.

The EV600 van will have a range of up to 250 miles when fully charged, Fletcher said.

As BrightDrop evolves, it will offer more electric-powered products including a medium-distance vehicle that can carry multiple pallets, the company said.

GM CEO Mary Barra announced BrightDrop in a keynote address as part of the virtual CES gadget show on Tuesday.

She said some countries have set limits on petroleum-powered delivery vehicles to fight pollution at a time when the coronavirus has brought dramatic increases in packages. ”The pandemic has only accelerated those challenges as this sector became our lifeline to goods and services we could no longer access in person,” she said.

During its CES presentation, GM even showed a video of a four-rotor autonomous flying Cadillac pod concept vehicle.

Last year, Ford Motor Co., GM’s main U.S. competitor, announced plans for an electric commercial van that will go on sale late in 2021.

GM has pledged to roll out 30 new electric vehicles globally and spend $27 billion developing them by 2025. New vehicles coming out this year include the electric GMC Hummer pickup, a Chevrolet Bolt electric utility vehicle and the Cadillac Lyriq luxury SUV.

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