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Don Pettit: Energy in our post-COVID world

Around the post COVID-19 world, renewable energy is continuing to gain momentum, big time. Let’s have a look at just a few examples.


Around the post COVID-19 world, renewable energy is continuing to gain momentum, big time. Let’s have a look at just a few examples.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced a bold Green Industrial Revolution plan to help their economy recover from COVID-19. This is particularly noteworthy because Johnson is the leader of UK’s Conservative Party – when even conservative political parties start pushing hard for a “green revolution” you know for sure that something big is changing.

Some highlights from Johnson’s $16-billion plan:

1) A total ban on the sale of combustion engine vehicles by 2030, plus government subsidies for electric cars and charging stations to speed the transition;

2) A pledge to increase offshore wind by a factor of four by 2030;

3) $1.75 billion to help insulate homes and public buildings;

4) A pledge to plant 30,000 hectares of trees every year;

5) An official pledge to make London the global center for green finance.

Look at almost every country and you’ll a “Green New Deal” of some kind rapidly taking shape.

South Korea, France, and Italy have declared billions of dollars in subsidies for rooftop solar.

Sweden has pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 25% in just four years in a bid to rescue the ailing Scandinavian Airlines.

Oil-rich Colombia has just announced a Covid recovery plan that will spend $4 billion on wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower.

Nigeria’s Covid stimulus plan includes $620 million to help install five million home solar power systems.

In the U.S., president-elect Biden has a $2 trillion climate plan, climate being his most important issue after Covid-19. The plan is comprehensive across all sectors, and will create millions of new clean energy jobs, finally moving the U.S. into a strong climate leadership position. It’s about time!

For electric vehicles, Norway is leading the global pack. It has just become the first country to pass the 50% mark: 54% of all vehicles in Norway are now electric, and more than 60% of all new vehicle sales are electric.

In Germany, EV sales have just tripled, reaching 22% of all sales late last year.

Tesla isn’t exactly sitting around either. Last year they hit their sales goal of 500,000 EVs shipped in 2020, and now they have released a game-changing new lithium battery technology.

It’s called the Tesla 4680, and it will pretty well wipe out the need for internal combustion vehicle engines, overnight. This revolutionary battery is planned to be in Tesla’s new 2021 vehicles, and here’s what it will do:

The new battery will extend the range of your average EV to just under 1000 km on a charge, and a charge with a standard level 3 charger will take just 15 minutes. This makes the range of an EV greater than any regular vehicle on a tank of fossil fuel. Range anxiety? Gone!

The 4680 is a true “dry-cell” battery: no electrolyte, no liquid acids or gels to get cold or freeze. That makes it very cold tolerant, good news for cold weather countries like Canada. Combined with their new super-efficient vehicle heat pump, cold weather range-loss will quickly pass into history.

Battery life? 3.5 million kilometres. This changes everything, even long-haul transport trucks, trains, and airplanes. For you and me, that’s one battery in one vehicle, for life!

Cost? The 4680 cost about half of their previous generation of batteries. This thanks to very advanced manufacturing automation, the elimination of cobalt in the batteries, plus the first full life cycle manufacturing systems in the world.

That means all materials and processes in creating new batteries are designed, right from the start, to make 100% recycling of used batteries cheaper than building new ones. That means old batteries are just fed through the system to become new, saving more money, materials and reducing environmental impact tremendously. Recycling built right into manufacturing: now that’s how it should be done!

Overall, this means you can kiss your gas-guzzler goodbye: starting this year, EVs will be better in every way.

COVID-19 has been a global call to action. Maybe, just maybe, the world is waking up from its long and dangerous slumber.

Don Pettit is a community columnist living in Dawson Creek and Executive Director of the Peace Energy Cooperative.

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