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Pope Gets a New LEAF in His EV Fleet

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POPE Francis’ “Laudato si’ Action Platform” is getting charged up again with the delivery of a Nissan LEAF to the Pontiff’s garage. Delivered on the celebration of World Environment Day, the gesture symbolized the two organizations’ shared goal of carbon neutrality.

The Vatican seems to have several environmentally conscious vehicles in its fleet. In 2010, the Japanese bishops’ conference turned over a hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai, responding to a call from the Pope and his revitalized efforts to respect the environment.

At that time, the Vatican’s garage also said it was gradually trying to replace all of its service vehicles with an all-electric fleet and several car manufacturers have pledged or donated different kinds of electric vehicles. Last month, Fisker pledged an all-electric Popemobile based on the Fisker Ocean.

The new LEAF was received by Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Governorate of Vatican City State and President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State. “I am honored, on behalf of Nissan, to support the Holy See on the path towards the decarbonization of its operations, a goal which Nissan shares,” Marco Toro, Managing Director for Nissan in Italy, said as he handed over the keys of the white LEAF during a special ceremony at the Vatican.

The Pope’s environmental action platform seeks to make Catholic institutions environmentally sustainable within seven years. The project name directly lifts from the Pope’s landmark 2015 encyclical “Laudato si’: On Caring for the Earth.” The action platform carries out the content of the encyclical, pledging that the Vatican will achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Along with this is a commitment that the city-state will intensify actions to oversee the protection of the environment, work towards rational use of natural resources, and plant more trees.

“We are working towards 75% of our sales in Europe being electrified by 2023, with a fully electrified range in the 2030s. This builds on the heritage of the Nissan LEAF as the world’s first mass-market EV, with 530,000 cars on the road having saved more than 2.8 million tons of CO2 worldwide,” Toro added.

“Today’s event is testament to our desire to collaborate with the Holy See to help them reach their sustainability goals and their commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. This is part of Pope Francis’ wider effort to protect the environment, as outlined in 2015 in his Laudato si’ Encyclical on Care for our Common Home and announced at the Climate Ambition Summit in December 2020,” Ben Greenwood, UK Consul General in Milan and Director of the Department for International Trade in Italy, commented. The LEAF that was donated is assembled at Nissan’s Sunderland plant in the UK.

As part of its global journey to net zero, Nissan will offer an electrified version of all of its vehicles in Europe by the end of 2023. This builds on more than a decade of experience from launching the Nissan LEAF as the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle. Upcoming innovations include the launch of vehicles with Nissan’s unique e-POWER technology, such as the all-new Qashqai and X-Trail, as well as the new all-electric Nissan Ariya and a new electric van.

In a press statement last year, Roberto Mignucci, director of workshops and equipment for the office governing Vatican City State, said that it will be collaborating with automobile manufacturers who are able to provide electric vehicles for evaluation, adding that an electric fleet was perfect due to the small size of the 109-acre city-state and the close proximity of its extraterritorial properties. He estimated that the average annual mileage of Vatican vehicles is fewer than 4,000 miles.

The Vatican also plans to increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations it already has installed within and just outside of St. Peter’s Square.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/06/22/pope-gets-a-new-leaf-in-his-ev-fleet/

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How Elon Musk Uses “Wonder & Fear” To Create Excitement Around Tesla

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Innovation at Tesla is often born out of counter-intuitive thinking. Much of the company’s ethos comes from its unconventional leader, Elon Musk. So, how does Musk drive the thinking behind his company’s automobiles? Perhaps part of his secret recipe is the ol’ maxim: opposites attract. According to John Nosta at Psychology Today, it all comes down to wonder and fear

“Recently, Elon Musk made a bold announcement at the introduction of the new Tesla S Plaid. He said it was faster than a Porsche, safer than a Volvo,” reports Nosta. “Musk did something more than just create a witty quote … he touched on something that is much more fundamental. And in a way, he has revealed (and leveraged) a basic, almost limbic, psychodynamic to much of today’s innovation and transformation.”

Tesla Model 3 taxi in NYC. Image courtesy of Brendan Miles, CleanTechnica.

“While speed and safety are fundamental to the automotive industry, they often exist in opposition … the buying habits of consumers more commonly gravitate to one or the other — something fun (fast) or something safe (convenient). This dynamic of wonder and fear lives on two poles,” explains Nosta.

Think back in history to (perhaps) the first major tech breakthrough. “Fire changed the world. It allowed us to move, stay awake at night, keep warm, cook, and eat more protein-based food, which in turn led to the development of the human brain. And yet, today, fire is one the single largest causes of property and personal destruction in the world. A fire can light the darkness, but it can also be used as a weapon,” says Nosta. [Editor’s side note: Our extremely rapid burning of fossil fuels is also threatening human livability on planet Earth.]

Tesla Cybertruck in NYC. Image courtesy of Mira Shahan, Brendan Miles, CleanTechnica.

“It’s this pulse of wonder and fear that Musk touches upon in his comments about the blazing speed and remarkable safety of the Tesla S Plaid,” notes Nosta. “Musk knows this, and leverages this emotional magic to seduce and capture his audiences …. [and] push us to that provocative journey where wonder stands in counterpoint to fear. Either way, it takes our breath away.”

Originally published on EVANNEX.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/26/how-elon-musk-uses-wonder-fear-to-create-excitement-around-tesla/

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NTPC Wins Approval For India’s Largest (4.7 Gigawatt!) Solar Park

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In a major boost to its aggressive plans to increase renewable energy generation, India’s largest power generation company has secured approval to set up a solar park park in Gujarat.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy recently gave a go-ahead to NTPC to set up a 4.7 gigawatt solar power park at Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. The park will be around twice as large as the Bhadla solar park in the neighbouring state of Rajasthan.

Solar power generated at this park will also be used for production of green hydrogen, the company revealed. The Indian government recently announced that it would mandate industries to use hydrogen produced from renewable energy. The obligation would be implemented in a manner similar to the renewable energy mandates.

The company first announced plans to set up this solar park in 2019. The size of the solar park was initially proposed to be 5 gigawatts with an estimated investment of Rs 200 billion ($2.8 billion). The company was reportedly considering setting up a similar solar power park in neighboring state of Rajasthan.

NTPC has around 66 gigawatts of power generation capacity, nearly 92% based on coal and gas. It plans to have 60 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2032. Over the few months the company has been aggressively participating in solar power auctions, it has done so through its new subsidiary — NTPC Renewable Energy Limited.

The sudden push for renewable energy by NTPC is part of its Corporate Plan 2032. It plans to increase the share of renewable energy in its generation mix to 28.5% by 2032.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/26/ntpc-wins-approval-for-indias-largest-4-7-gigawatt-solar-park/

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Middle Ground: Going Forward With The EV Transition, But Acknowledging The Impacts of Battery Mining

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Mining for battery materials can be a touchy subject. The haters and the people who stand to lose money in the transition to clean energy love to bring it up. They normally don’t care one bit about the environmental impacts of things (or they wouldn’t support the oil and coal industries like they do). When EVs come up, suddenly they’re primitivists. Any impact from EVs, solar, and storage are too much. When people start talking about battery mining, it’s hard for us to not see it as an attack, or disingenuous concern trolling.

At the same time, though, the concerns aren’t always “FUD” (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt used to deceive and manipulate). While the impacts of these mining operations certainly are smaller than the impacts of unchecked climate change, they aren’t zero, and they’re something we should at least consider.

In this article, I’m going to explore some of the impacts we might not have considered, but unlike the oil propagandists, I won’t stop there. Because I’m an optimistic realist, I want to explain how I think we can both pursue the much-needed transition to clean energy while also minimizing the negative impacts.

Upcoming Mining Impacts In The United States See Opposition

I could easily dig up sad tales of human devastation and environmental destruction from the Global South, but we’ve seen all that. It matters, and don’t let anyone tell you differently, but I’d be wasting readers’ time if I rehashed that. I did touch on it in this other article, and discussed some of the efforts automakers are taking to reduce related human suffering.

If you aren’t aware of those issues, there are many articles and even scholarly work on the subject. It’s important, and worth reading about.

In this article, I’m going to discuss the challenges lithium suppliers are facing closer to home (at least for me). As we learned in a CleanTechnica podcast episode from a few months ago, the supply of lithium and other minerals for U.S. EV production is in an uncertain place right now. The lack of certainty (especially in terms of government action) is keeping mining companies from jumping in and starting the years-long process of getting new mines started, like they are for the supplies needed for Europe and China.

On top of that problem, the normal American taste for larger vehicles, combined with the lack of decent charging infrastructure, means that the United States are going to need a lot more battery cells than other places. Even companies like Honda know that there’s no market for EVs with smaller batteries, and that’s why they’re not selling the retro-looking Honda e in that market.

I know Tesla fans tend to spend a lot of time thinking about “stonks” and investments, so some of you are probably thinking that this perfect storm sounds like a great opportunity. The few mining companies that start spinning up mining operations are probably going to make bank when EVs start to take over, so where are these forward-thinking companies?

It turns out that they’re a thing, but they’re having some real challenges.

In North Carolina, Piedmont Lithium has plans for a huge mining operation outside of Charlotte. It has even signed a deal with Tesla to supply lithium for upcoming electric vehicles. In total, it’s gearing up to provide 30,000 tons of the mineral, or about enough for 3 million EVs annually. That’s not going to be nearly enough for upcoming U.S. lithium needs, but it’s enough to put a good dent in the problem.

Unfortunately, they are running into a problem: they haven’t worked with local and state governments at all so far. Permits, zoning variances, and other issues need to be settled, and the lack of action on that has locals annoyed with the company. At a recent meeting where they revealed more detailed plans to the county, all but one of the residents who came to the meeting spoke against it.

Residents aren’t just upset that their elected officials weren’t talked to sooner. The impacts of the mine are a big part of opposition. “Good county commissioners don’t let strangers intrude into our community knowing they’re going to bring destruction,” Libby Carpenter, one local resident, told the board. Some residents in the rural county don’t want to sell their land, and claim to have been told that the company will just mine around them should they decide to not sell.

“There’s no doubt the mine would benefit our country and the green energy industry,” said Tracy Philbeck, a county commissioner. “But it would have a negative impact on our community.”

A recent video by the LA Times shows us some of the other challenges that the mining industry is facing while trying to come up with new U.S. domestic supplies.

In Nevada, a new mine has drawn the opposition of a local Native American tribe and ranchers in the area who fear that the natural beauty of the area will be lost. For the tribe, it’s an issue of sacred lands being destroyed or lost, while for the ranchers, the loss of spring water could be a matter of economic survival. The world needs better energy storage technologies to accompany clean power production and clean transport, but local needs would have to go under the bus to do it.

To avoid these sorts of problems, another company wants to obtain lithium, cobalt, and other metals from the ocean floor. In “nodules” that developed on the seabed, basically all of the metals needed for battery production sit loosely on the surface of the sand, ripe for the picking without having to even dig. Unfortunately, marine biologists say collecting them up at scale with scrapers could irreparably harm life at the bottom, which tends to move very slowly.

It seems like no matter where U.S. companies try to look for battery minerals, they run into people or animals who will be harmed in some way.

Some Solutions

Despite these impacts, the fact is that doing nothing here isn’t an option. The NIMBYs that get in the way of the production of climate solutions will, in many cases, have to be ignored or swept aside if we want to avoid the even greater impacts of unchecked climate change. The U.S. is simply not going to go back to the stone age, so lithium, cobalt, and other needed minerals aren’t optional.

That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do what we reasonably can to reduce those impacts, though. Producing batteries with reckless abandon, and using them for frivolous things, can make the impacts much worse than they need to be.

To strike a healthy balance, we need to only take what we need from the Earth, and not much more. That basically puts us in the same position we are in facing a battery shortage, and the solutions are largely the same.

Micromobility needs to be a big part of the future transportation mix. When most car trips are under six miles, and things like e-bikes and scooters can take you across that distance without breaking a sweat, this is a no-brainer. While we should definitely keep working to electrify cars and trucks, spending a fraction of that money on encouraging people to buy e-bikes is a great way to get a return on investment.

As Cynthia Shahan points out, micromobility works great in cities outside of the United States because they built for it in ways the U.S. has not.

I’m not one of those people who thinks the U.S. has to copy Europe on everything, but if we can find our own way to do it with our own local flavors, we can do something impactful with it. Personally, I have a lot of fun with big fat-tire e-bikes like my RadRover, and I don’t even live in a big city. It’s basically the SUV of e-bikes, and you know how we like our SUVs and crossovers. Also, getting dumb and intrusive regulations on micromobility (throttle bans, in-built speed limiters, etc.) out of the way can do a lot to spur adoption of these vehicles.

When it comes to EVs, we really need to right-size those a lot more. Having a vehicle with 100–200 kWh of battery for short-range grocery getting makes no sense, and isn’t something government policy and the EV community should be encouraging. I’m not saying nobody should buy vehicles like the F-150 Lightning or the Cybertruck, but if you’re not going to actually use the capabilities of those vehicles, consider something else for your urban or suburban drives.

Featured image by Piedmont Lithium (YouTube)


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/26/middle-ground-going-forward-with-the-ev-transition-but-acknowledging-the-impacts-of-battery-mining/

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In 2020, the United States Produced the Least CO2 Emissions from Energy in Nearly 40 Years

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In 2020, as the country responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, CO2 emissions from energy consumption in the United States fell to the lowest level since 1983. The 4.6 billion metric tons (Bmt) of CO2 emitted in 2020 was an 11% decrease from 2019, the largest annual decrease on record, according to our Monthly Energy Review. Our new U.S. CO2 emissions from energy consumption by source and sector chart illustrates CO2 emissions by energy source and sector.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review. Note: Click for full U.S. CO2 emissions chart.

U.S. petroleum consumption accounted for 2.0 Bmt of energy-related CO2 emissions, or about 45% of the U.S. total, in 2020. About 77% of petroleum CO2 emissions occurred in the transportation sector in 2020.

In 2020, U.S. natural gas consumption accounted for 1.7 Bmt of CO2 emissions, or about 36% of the total — its largest share on record. In 2020, about 38% of CO2 emissions from natural gas occurred in the electric power sector, and 32% were in the industrial sector.

In 2020, coal consumption accounted for 0.9 Bmt of CO2 emissions, or about 19% of total CO2 emissions, both its lowest total amount and share in our annual data series that begins in 1973. In 2020, about 90% of CO2 emissions from coal occurred in the electric power sector. Coal consumption in the electric power sector has declined over the past decade, displaced by natural gas and renewable energy.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review

The electric power sector is an intermediate energy-consuming sector, and therefore, we allocate its CO2 emissions proportionally to the amount of electricity sold to each consumption sector in this chart. In 2020, coal accounted for 54% of electric power CO2 emissions, even though coal accounted for 19% of electricity generation in the electric power sector last year.

The U.S. transportation sector emitted 1.6 Bmt of CO2 in 2020, or about 36% of the nation’s total energy-related CO2 emissions. U.S. transportation sector CO2 emissions dropped 15% from 2019 as a result of the decrease in petroleum consumption for travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, petroleum accounted for 97% of U.S. transportation sector CO2 emissions.

The U.S. industrial sector emitted 1.3 Bmt of CO2 in 2020. In 2020, direct consumption of natural gas accounted for 41% of the sector’s CO2 emissions, electric power generation accounted for 28%, petroleum for 25%, and coal for 7%.

The U.S. residential sector emitted 0.9 Bmt of CO2 in 2020, a 6% drop from 2019. Energy consumption in the residential sector was down overall in 2020 despite more people staying at home. In 2020, electric power generation accounted for 64% of residential CO2 emissions, and direct consumption of natural gas accounted for 29%.

The U.S. commercial sector emitted 0.7 Bmt of CO2 in 2020, or 16% of total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions, the least of any sector. In 2020, 69% of commercial sector CO2 emissions came from electric power generation, and 24% was from direct consumption of natural gas.

As the nation emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and travel and the economy begin to grow again, we expect CO2 emissions to grow by 0.3 Bmt ( 7%) in 2021, according to the July update of our Short-Term Energy Outlook.

Principal contributor: Brett Marohl

Article and graphs courtesy of U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/26/in-2020-the-united-states-produced-the-least-co2-emissions-from-energy-in-nearly-40-years/

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