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# Heat Pumps Are Amazing On Modern Grids, Not So Much In Coal Country

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Air Quality

Published on November 29th, 2020 | by Michael Barnard

November 29th, 2020 by Michael Barnard

First, a mea culpa. I got something wrong. A couple of weeks ago I published a piece which analyzed the amazing value that we could get if we simply replaced gas furnaces and air conditioning in the worst 10% of commercial buildings. I found that Canada could save “1.9 megatonnes of CO2e per year, and about 38 megatonnes over 20 years.

Well, I missed one multiplication factor in one cell. The actual numbers are are 2.1 megatonnes and 42 megatonnes. Yeah, the results are actually 10% better than I had published. I feel so terrible.

I discovered this in the aftermath of conversations about the model with my frequent collaborator Blair Birdsell, co-author with me on the article Adventures in Municipal Data Science. We’re talking about using the model of building emissions savings I created and extending it to both large scale municipal data sets and how we can synthesize initial data sets to play with the machine learning side of things.

That led to a discussion of how the model would have to be varied by Canadian province, as each province has greater or lesser building energy use profiles, depending on climate and historical efficiency programs, and different grid CO2e per kWh emissions.

Map of Canada with grams of CO2 per kWh from grid electricity courtesy of Canada Energy Regulator

That last one turned out to be a real kicker. Before doing the work, it wasn’t clear to me how the combination would come together, but in retrospect, it should have been obvious.

As a reminder, this variant still operates off of the median 5,000 square foot / 464 square meter commercial building. There are about 50,000 of them in Canada in that range. However, some provinces have a lot more of them and some a lot less. The method I used to derive provincial numbers was to used GDP in Canadian dollars as a proxy for likely building numbers, dividing the provincial GDP by the federal GDP then using the result to carve out a slice of the 50,000 buildings. With the \$2.2 trillion CAD for Canada then, BC’s \$300 billion CAD suggests around 64,000 commercial and institutional buildings, with 6,400 being the worst offenders. Note that due to the very moderate climate BC is the province least likely to have air conditioning, but most likely to have both crappy air conditioning and leaky buildings despite long-running efficiency programs, so it’s a bit of a wash.

Instead of using the Canadian average energy intensity per building as I did in the last article, I used the provincial or regional numbers. The Prairies — Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba — stand out for energy intensity. They have an interior continental climate, so their winters are much colder and their summers hotter than the provinces moderated by the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans or the Great Lakes. Having had many stays in Quebec’s two cities during the winter, I can only explain their lack of energy intensity to good building codes in the past.

Chart by author

Alberta being actually negative was a surprise. That 790 grams of CO2e per kWh due to the large percentage of their electricity that comes from coal has an impact. Their grid is so filthy that it’s better — today — to heat with natural gas than to heat with heat pumps. Under one of the few reasonable governments they’ve had in decades, Rachel Notley’s NDP, they implemented a plan to eliminate coal in the province, and its megatons of CO2e per year, and replace them with two-thirds renewables and one-third natural gas generation, a significant improvement. As I wrote at the time, to the chagrin of long-time friend and colleague Tim Weis, who was Ministerial Advisor – Energy / Environment for the Notley Administration, it was an 11/10 plan for Alberta, if only 7/10 for the planet, as the roughly 30 megatons was simply given to the oil sands as an increase on their allowable emissions.

Normalizing the relative improvement by GDP paints a clearer picture.

Chart by author

The units have become relatively meaningless of course, but the normalization makes it clearer how much of a relative impact a heat pump program for the worst buildings would have in each province. Manitoba, for example, has by far the biggest impact on its greenhouse gas emissions in the normalized model, but in absolute terms its fourth.

And the normalized version makes clear that a lot more provinces would benefit by the heat pump program than the absolute numbers suggest. Tiny Prince Edward Island, land of Anne of Green Gables and beautiful roadside weeds, PEI with it’s 160,000 population, gets as much relative benefit as the comparatively massive Ontario, the population and economic 800 lb gorilla of Canada.

Alberta and Saskatchewan still stand out, and not for good reasons. As has been noted, if it weren’t for those two provinces, with their increasing emissions from their oil and gas heavy economies, Canada would be on track to meeting our Paris Accord targets. Instead, their increases have wiped out the gains in other provinces.

Map courtesy of Government of Canada

All of those oil and gas extraction sites in the two provinces are taking a significant environmental toll locally and globally, and as I’ve noted in the past, the rest of Canada is going to be on the hook to clean up the mess.

Naturally, they are also the regional stronghold of the federal Conservative Party of Canada, whose climate change action plan is, I kid you not, to kill the price on carbon and sell more Canadian oil and gas domestically and internationally.

Earlier I talked about Alberta’s reasonable plan to clean up its grid, if not its oil and gas sector. However, since the bright days of 2015 when Alberta had a sensible government in place, it has subsequently elected an ideologically conservative, regressive and oil and gas sector-captured party and leader again, Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party. The United is because the really out there party, Wildrose, was wrangled back into the fold by Kenney, kind of the reverse of what his former boss, Stephen Harper did when his Reform Party swallowed the Progressive Conservatives and eliminated the faintest whiff of progress in the process.

Observers, including me, were worried that Kenney would pull a Doug Ford. For those who missed it, that Conservative Ontario premier, upon taking office, tore up 758 renewables contracts, legislated no ability for the renewables owners to seek compensation, canceled Ontario’s cap and trade, and interfered so blatantly in Hydro One that the utility lost a multi-billion dollar acquisition opportunity.

Thankfully, Alberta’s new boss wasn’t quite as draconian. The UCP is changing the targets on what will replace coal — more gas, naturally — but not eliminating renewables entirely and holding to shutting down coal. Even the ideologues currently in power can’t argue with the extremely low auction prices for wind and solar, although I’m sure they tried. However, Alberta, in keeping with conservative climate action plans, is opening up protected head waters in the Rockies for coal mining, something sensibly banned since 1976. Why? So they can export more coal to Asia.

Saskatchewan is about four years behind Alberta, but actually has a small pipeline for renewables. As a result, these two laggard provinces will eventually become more positive. The thing is, due to their intransigence in the past, they have to do a lot more transforming at greater expense today. It’s all economically viable, of course. I worked out the cost for Saskatchewan to shift to 100% renewables recently, and it’s a reasonable percentage of GDP with very large payoffs in terms of avoiding negative externalities including the health of its own populace.

In other words, if Alberta and Saskatchewan actually clean up their grids, heat pumps remain a strong value proposition, stronger with each passing year.

Electrifying everything at the same time as all electrical generation shifts to renewables are two of the key points in my Short List Of Climate Actions That Will Work. Heat pumps are only part of the answer, but at about 1% of Canada’s total GHG emissions reduction target, they are a surprisingly big one and as the relative benefits charts show, one that has legs in almost every province right away. The same is true in the USA, of course, and countries around the world.

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Michael Barnard is Chief Strategist with TFIE Strategy Inc and co-founder of two current startups. He works with startups, existing businesses and investors to identify opportunities for significant bottom line growth and cost takeout in our rapidly transforming world. He is editor of The Future is Electric and designing for health. He regularly publishes analyses of low-carbon technology and policy in sites including Newsweek, Slate, Forbes, Huffington Post, Quartz, CleanTechnica and RenewEconomy, and his work is regularly included in textbooks. Third-party articles on his analyses and interviews have been published in dozens of news sites globally and have reached #1 on Reddit Science. He’s available for consulting engagements, speaking engagements and Board positions.

# One key to moving the Biden agenda: Bring all three sectors to the table

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The incoming Biden administration unquestionably will bring new focus to sustainable development goals at home and abroad. Joe Biden has produced plans in an array of key areas — environmental protection, clean energy and racial equity among them — and has promised action in his first 100 days as president. His administration will be playing catch-up in all these key areas, and the best way to make rapid progress is one that doesn’t get talked about enough: building three-sector collaboration into every major initiative.

Government partnerships are nothing new, but they’re usually binary: Government agencies work with nonprofits or with businesses or gather feedback separately from each. Collaborations across all three sectors are less typical, but they generate more deeply informed, comprehensive solutions and yield wider support.

The clearest way to illustrate the value of cross-sector collaboration is to contrast what happens when one sector isn’t at the table with what’s possible when all sectors are present. The following examples of initiatives related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals show the consequences of leaving out or engaging key stakeholders — and point to how the Biden administration can do better.

### When the nonprofit sector isn’t at the table: the lost opportunity in Opportunity Zones

The Trump administration’s Opportunity Zones were a good idea on paper but were more effective at creating massive tax benefits for already wealthy investors than at creating new jobs and economic opportunities in disinvested communities. That’s largely because communities were left out of program design and implementation, which resulted in capital flowing into projects that didn’t target community needs and sometimes usurped preferred community uses.

Working alongside government and corporate actors, community-based nonprofits could have ensured that the investments promoted equitable opportunity and contributed rather than extracted value from communities.

A couple of successes show what’s possible: The Economic Equity Network, a pop-up Multiplier project, created a network of more than 300 people committed to equitable community transformation and wealth building and brought them high-impact investment opportunities in three cities. The project helped broaden female and minority investor and entrepreneur networks, and promoted the use of Opportunity Zone funds not only for real-estate investments, but also to scale up minority- and women-led businesses.

The clearest way to illustrate the value of cross-sector collaboration is to contrast what happens when one sector isn’t at the table with what’s possible when all sectors are present.

Moving into 2021, national community development organization LISC is collaborating with local investment platform Blueprint Local on projects across the Southeast that will align small businesses loans, federal programs and community plans to build community wealth.

The Biden administration has indicated support for Opportunity Zones, as well as acknowledged the need for fixes. The first action should be to look at these models and restructure the program with a new priority: bringing community-rooted organizations together with investors committed to creating public as well as private returns.

### When the for-profit sector isn’t at the table: The sidelining of sustainable fishing

Environmental NGOs have been lobbying for the 30×30 initiative to conserve 30 percent of the world’s ocean habitat by 2030, and the Biden administration is embracing that goal.

Sounds great, right? The problem is, the legislation on deck was created without meaningful input from the small-scale fishermen who have helped make U.S. fisheries the most sustainable in the world. This proposal would ban commercial fishing in at least 30 percent of U.S. marine areas, overturning the successful fisheries management system, harming coastal communities and cutting off consumer access to sustainable local seafood. The end result could be to increase long-distance imports from far less sustainable sources.

Contrast that with an example of what can happen when all three sectors work together: The nonprofit program Catch Together partners with fishing communities to create and launch community-owned permit banks, which purchase fishing quota (rights to a certain percentage of the catch in a fishery) and then lease that quota to local fishing businesses at affordable rates.

The centerpiece of the program is a foundation-supported revolving loan fund that capitalizes the permit banks and allows communities to invest in tradable quota. That makes it easier for small-scale fishing businesses to access capital and compete against larger players for the ability to fish in their own local waters.

So far, the Catch Together team has helped fund quota acquisitions and leasing in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and New England. The goal is to build a nationwide network of next-generation fishermen who are strong advocates for sustainable fisheries and ocean stewardship.

This network and other local fishermen — especially Indigenous fishing communities — deserve a seat at the table to explain how their sustainable fishing techniques contribute to climate resilience and conservation. By insisting on collaborative approaches such as the Catch Together model, the Biden administration could ensure that the effort to mitigate the harm caused by large-scale fishing doesn’t undermine responsible small fishermen. It is possible to reach the 30×30 goals by working with fishing communities — in fact, that may be the only way it will happen.

### When government hides under the table: A power player blocks renewable energy

Pacific Northwest residents and wildlife are caught in the grip of a self-funding federal power marketing entity holding fast to an antiquated model that forces consumers to buy more expensive, less environmentally friendly energy. The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) produces supposedly clean hydroelectric energy from the dams it owns — but its high-maintenance, high-cost infrastructure damages salmon habitat and produces pricier power than solar and wind installations.

BPA has maintained the status quo despite these deficits by pacifying environmental NGOs with funding to develop environmental solutions (which have no chance of working unless the dams come down) and using its control of the grid to keep cheaper, greener renewable energy out of the market.

Another thread runs through the success stories: science, scientists and diverse perspectives.

In this case, a public agency essentially has gone rogue, using its monopoly power to privilege its own perceived interests. Collaboration with the nonprofit and for-profit sectors could create solutions that serve the public interest, but neither the Department of Energy (the BPA’s overseer) nor Congress has come to the table to demand it.

Columbia Rediviva, a network of citizen activists, is working to change that by engaging Congress members in a plan to reimagine the Pacific Northwest power grid and bring salmon back to the Columbia River. One focus is freeing NGOs to be independent voices by shifting control of conservation funds to a different government agency (so that the BPA is not funding their operations). Another is building support for newer, better clean energy supplies by sharing research that shows taking down dams would deliver both cheaper energy and more jobs.

The Biden administration can promote progress in the Pacific Northwest and on clean energy goals nationally by putting government on the side of innovation and aligning the players’ incentives with the public good.

### When everyone is at the table: The emergence of the first carbon-neutral U.S. city

Menlo Park, California, is on its way to becoming the first carbon-neutral city in the U.S., thanks to Menlo Spark’s work to activate stakeholders in pursuit of that vision. The nonprofit program has collaborated with local government, businesses, residents and experts to institute proven sustainability measures designed to not only reduce the Silicon Valley hub’s carbon emissions but also increase the prosperity of the entire community.

Menlo Spark created community buy-in to the carbon-neutral initiative by outlining how it would allow Menlo Park to continue to thrive economically. This support brought the corporate and government sectors on board as well.

The city adopted groundbreaking codes requiring that all new buildings operate entirely on electricity, and the Menlo Spark coalition spurred other Silicon Valley cities to do the same, creating a regional effect. The coalition also catalyzed 20 cities to commit to pursuing 100 percent carbon-free power for all customers by 2021. Solar installations for low-income families, improved transit tools and stops, an infrastructure initiative that paves the way for apartment dwellers to own electric vehicles, the Menlo Green Challenge for households, and educational tools all contribute to progress.

This example illustrates a key advantage of bringing all sectors into the conversation: the nonprofit sector is highly skilled at taking the pulse of a community and figuring out effective ways to gain support from all sectors for innovative ideas. Biden’s climate agenda will require all-sector support to succeed, and the administration should center the nonprofit sector as a valuable partner in building community support.

### The upshot: We need bigger tables

As the examples above illustrate, three-sector engagement is crucial. And another thread runs through the success stories: science, scientists and diverse perspectives. Biden already has taken steps on the crucial task of bringing scientific assessments and ongoing research back into policymaking, but there’s a lot of catching up to do in this area. At the same time, we need to be sure we’re involving a true cross-section of the community in initiatives that affect us all.

The National Science Policy Network is addressing both needs: this network catalyzes early-career scientists to take an active role in policymaking at all levels of government. It also focuses on racial justice and diversity in science, with initiatives to promote women and people of color and model inclusive and successful science communication.

Having all the right people at the table is the essential first step in creating lasting solutions to our long-running environmental and social challenges. That means involving all three sectors, a cross-section of our communities and scientific advisers who themselves represent diverse perspectives and are committed to translating science into policy.

In short, we need bigger tables where everyone gets a seat. The Biden administration would be wise to incorporate this principle throughout its policy agenda. That is how it will truly achieve Biden’s goal of uniting America.

# 5/3 Bank Achieves Carbon Neutrality

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Published on January 19th, 2021 | by Zachary Shahan

January 19th, 2021 by Zachary Shahan

CleanTechnica switched to Fifth Third Bank (5/3 Bank) in 2019. Two big factors for us were 1) it had the most ambitious clean energy achievements and plans of any bank, and 2) it won’t invest in private prisons. In fact, it was already 100% solar powered back then. That actually made it special well beyond the banking sector. The company noted back then that it was “the first publicly-traded company to commit to purchase 100% renewable energy through solar power alone.” At that time, 5/3 Bank (Nasdaq: FITB) was the 10th largest corporate purchaser of solar power in the United States, with the companies above it being giants like Apple, Google, Amazon, Target, and Walmart, companies that use far more electricity than 5/3 Bank.

But 100% solar power wasn’t a stopping point for the bank. Fifth Third announced today that it has now achieved carbon neutrality for its 2020 operations. That doesn’t just including building-related energy use and emissions. That also covers business travel.

“This achievement was accomplished by directly reducing the Company’s corporate carbon footprint, purchasing renewable power and utilizing carbon offsets from a project in its retail footprint for remaining emissions.”

There’s ESG in the banking sector, and then there’s 5/3 Bank. And that’s why we are happy to call 5/3 CleanTechnica‘s bank. This achievement also gives the bank another 1st to nobly brag about.

“Becoming the first regional US-based commercial bank to achieve carbon neutrality demonstrates Fifth Third’s unequivocal commitment to environmental sustainability leadership in the financial services industry,” said Fifth Third Chairman and CEO Greg D. Carmichael. “Achieving and maintaining carbon neutrality ensures that our operations minimize impact to the environment and is beneficial to all of our stakeholders.”

But how much did 5/3 Bank really work to achieve this? Didn’t it just invest in some solar projects and a bit of carbon offset work? No — it did much more than that. Well, it’s a bank, so it certainly spent more resources than you or I could dream about, but it’s still impressive to see that this is the result of a 5-year, \$8 billion sustainable finance goal that it just announced in September 2020.

Aside from the 100% solar powered milestone noted above, the company has also achieved a “20% reduction in water usage and a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Fifth Third has won several awards and acknowledgements for its climate and cleantech leadership. For more, you can use this press release as a starting point.

“Fifth Third aligns its work in environmental sustainability to the United Nations Sustainable Finance Goal No. 13 Climate Action. More information is available in the 2020 ESG Report. Fifth Third expects to publish its 2020 ESG Report in mid-2021.”

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Tags: banks, Fifth Third Bank

Zachary Shahan is tryin’ to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in NIO [NIO], Tesla [TSLA], and Xpeng [XPEV]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

# Tesla Hiring For 500 Positions In Florida — Many Solar Related

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Published on January 19th, 2021 | by Johnna Crider

January 19th, 2021 by Johnna Crider

Tesla is hiring for 500 positions in Florida, the Bradenton Herald reports. CareerSource Tampa Bay is partnering up with Tesla to host a virtual hiring event on January 27, from 10 am through 2 pm, in hopes of filling positions available for both Tesla’s solar and automotive positions. Tesla’s initiative, Build Your Future, is expanding jobs while accelerating sustainability efforts, and the hiring event is a part of this initiative.

These 500 positions include solar installers with a pay range of \$16 to \$26 per hour (86 positions available), licensed solar electricians with a starting pay of \$24 per hour (15 positions available), solar roofers with pay starting at \$16 per hour (57 positions available), and automotive service technicians with pay starting at \$16 per hour (28 positions available).

Although Tesla will hire only 186 at this event, it plans to add a total of 500 positions across the state of Florida. John Flanagan, CareerSource Tampa Bay CEO, shared his excitement in a press release. “We are excited to team up with Tesla, Inc. to help employ job seekers in our region and community,” he said. “We are proud to help fill the positions created by their goals of sustainable job creation.”

If you are in the area and would like to apply, click here.

## Tesla Is The #1 Place To Work For Students

Tesla Solar Roof going up. Photo by Kyle Field/CleanTechnica.

In 2020, Universum, an employer branding specialist, released its list of most attractive employers for US students. Tesla ranked at the top of the list at number one, Teslarati reported back in November of last year.

SpaceX came in at number 2 — playing a bit of musical chairs in comparison with 2019’s report, which held SpaceX as number one and Tesla as number 2. Teslarati noted that it was interesting to see that Tesla was the only automaker to make Universum’s Top 10 lists for both engineering students and business students, for which it ranked number 8. For business students, Tesla is also the only automaker in the top 10. The nearest automaker, Daimler, was listed at 65.

The top 10 for engineering were Tesla, SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, Google, Boeing, NASA, Apple, Microsoft, The Walt Disney Company, and Amazon. For computer science, Tesla ranked at number 5. Google reigned king in this one, while Apple was the queen.

A total of 42,738 students from 323 universities participated in the Universum survey.

Featured image from CareerSource Tampa Bay’s flyer.

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Johnna Crider is a Baton Rouge artist, gem and mineral collector, member of the International Gem Society, and a Tesla shareholder who believes in Elon Musk and Tesla. Elon Musk advised her in 2018 to “Believe in Good.” Tesla is one of many good things to believe in. You can find Johnna on Twitter at all hours of the day & night.

# 2020 Ends Hottest Decade On Record

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January 19th, 2021 by Guest Contributor

Courtesy of Union Of Concerned Scientists.
By Brenda Ekwurzel, Senior climate scientist

It is now official, 2020 ends the hottest decade on record. The top takeaway is the decadal temperature chart has now become as iconic as the “Keeling Curve,” which has recorded atmospheric carbon dioxide at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii since 1958, and shows a similar upward trend.

This warmest decade was preceded by the second warmest, which in turn was preceded by the third warmest, which in turn was preceded by the fourth warmest decade, meaning the last 40 years, on average, have been the hottest on record. The pace of heat-trapping emissions from fossil fuel burning and other human activities has not yet slowed this upward trend. Quite the opposite.

Decadal data by definition looks at long-term trends, so we’ll have to wait another decade before another bar can be added to the temperature chart. In the meantime, headlines are tracking how 2020 stacked up on the annual ranking.

### 2020 Global Annual Average Temperature

Independent analyses around the world use slightly different baseline reference periods and approaches to determine the global annual temperature. Given the confidence range for the final number this often yields slightly different rankings between institutions. No matter how you slice it, 2020 was hot!

NASA (USA) and Copernicus (EU) report 2020 as tied with 2016 as the warmest year and NOAA (USA) reported 2020 as the second warmest in their 141-year record. All the more remarkable since an ocean cycle phase in the Pacific Ocean — La Niña — tended to pull down temperatures toward the end of 2020.

Since this number is a combined land and ocean average, it is worth taking a closer look at where the warmth was most notable in 2020. For this we will report the NOAA Global Climate Report — Annual 2020 rankings which uses the 20th century average for their baseline.

### Breakdown of 2020 land and ocean surface temperature:

Warmest years:

• The seven warmest years in the 1880–2020 record have all occurred since 2014.
• The 10 warmest years have occurred since 2005.
• 2020 is the 44th consecutive year (since 1977) above the 20th century average.

Hemispheres:

• 2020 Northern Hemisphere was the warmest in the 141-year record.
• 2020 Southern Hemisphere was the fifth warmest on record.

Oh yes, and where most of us live — on the global land surface area — ranked as the warmest on record. Since the industrial revolution, the United States has contributed the most to the rise in global average temperature. Rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement would be a welcome commitment to reducing emissions.

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