The Sunny Side We Also May View
By: Chandu Visweswariah
There’s a dark and a troubled side of life
There’s a bright and a sunny side too
Though we meet with the darkness and strife
The sunny side we also may view.
— From a song by the Carter Family
Over the years, many of you have read my blogs pointing out the dire consequences of climate change. I recently realized that after a long wait, this world is finally in an “implementation phase” of climate action. So, I have gathered here the “top 10 stories in climate news” so that the sunny side you also may view!
- Boston Public Schools (BPS) announced a plan to electrify its entire 740 school bus fleet by 2030! Click here for a recording of a fascinating panel discussion entitled Planning for Long-Term Electric School Bus Success, sponsored by the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) and World Resources Institute (WRI). Jackie Hayes of BPS explained the School District’s electrification plans in the panel session.
- The Biden administration announced a plan to eliminate CO2 emissions from the nation’s power sector by 2040 by means of new E.P.A. regulations.
- Starting in 2024, Ford Electric Vehicle customers will have access to 12,000 Tesla dc fast chargers nationwide using an adapter; starting with 2025 models, adapters won’t be required.
- Innovation is alive and well! Just this past week, we heard about two breakthroughs in new battery designs. The first was an announcement by Chinese mega-manufacturer CATL about using manganese, an abundant mineral, to both improve energy density 15% and reduce cost. The second was an exciting prototype of a calcium metal rechargeable battery announced by Japanese researchers. Soon a Tesla Model 3 equivalent is expected to have a range of 400+ miles. OxfordPV announced a breakthrough in solar panel efficiency, demonstrating 28.6% efficiency in the laboratory using perovskite materials. Conventional panels can at best muster 24% efficiency in converting light to electricity. A note of caution, however, is that durability issues need to be overcome before this technology can achieve commercialization.
- Utility-scale battery storage capacity in the U.S. increased 52% year-over-year at the end of Q1 2023, and 2022 was a record year for U.S. battery storage.
- Utility Dive reported that the expected investment in clean energy worldwide in 2023, at $1.7T, far exceeds the investment in oil and gas, at $1T, based on an International Energy Agency study (see lead graphic).
- Tesla published its 2022 carbon report (a welcome change to the way oil companies have shied away from responsibility for so-called Scope 3 emissions from their products) as well as a Sustainability Master Plan for the planet co-presented by Elon Musk, well worth watching.
- Worldwide, renewable sources of energy are on a torrid growth curve, and are expected to increase by a third in 2023 according to the International Energy Agency.
- The world’s biggest investment fund is Norway’s sovereign fund, managing $1.4T. The fund has announced that it will exclude firms mismanaging climate risk starting next year, and has demanded honest accounting of carbon from oil and gas companies.
- The World Resources Institute has announced a new electric school bus “Total Cost of Ownership” (TCO) calculator and concluded that the TCO of an electric bus can be as little as half of a diesel counterpart despite a higher up-front cost.
- In this podcast, Hahrie Han of Johns Hopkins University and David Beckman of the Pisces Foundation talk about how the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) offers open-ended funding and it is up to all of us to make sure we take full advantage for maximum decarbonization progress.
- But what about all those trucks? CALSTART has published a market update on the uptake of Zero-Emission Trucks (ZET) in the Medium and Heavy Duty (MHD) sector. Since January 2017, annual MHD ZET deployments increased year-over-year by 104% in 2018, 23% in 2019, 60% in 2020, 397% in 2021, and 163% in 2022. Cumulative U.S. deployments through the end of ’22 have grown to 5,483 vehicles, of which 3,510 were deployed in 2022.
Did we say top 10? Well, I guess we are brimming over with good climate news! Collectively, I hope these stories bring a smile to your face, make you hopeful for a fleeting minute and even relieve a bit of eco-anxiety.