Can a Green-Economy Boom Town Be Built to Last?

At-a-Glance:

As it prepares to deliver its first electric pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles this year, Rivian has spent around $1.5 billion renovating and expanding a factory once owned by Mitsubishi. On a typical day the 3.3-million-square-foot plant hosts several hundred construction workers alongside more than 2,500 workers employed by the company, which expects to eventually double its local head count. To learn more, read, Can a Green-Economy Boom Town Be Built to Last?”

Key Takeaways:

  • Electric vehicles require fewer workers to make than gasoline-powered ones.
  • Rivian’s prospects appear strong — it filed for a public stock offering in August, seeking a valuation of roughly $70 billion — the company could be overwhelmed by a growing list of competitors.
  • A nearby community college started a program this fall to train electric vehicle technicians, and Illinois State University, which abuts Uptown, is building an engineering school partly in response to Rivian.

Path to 100% Perspective: 

The economics are on our side. Power generation is undergoing fast trans- formation towards cleaner energy sources due to low-cost renewables. In addition, rapidly maturing energy storage technologies, together with sector coupling, are for the first time paving a route towards zero-emission electricity generation. In order for organizations and communities to build on the energy transition, there needs to be realistic and strategic planning, investments in innovation and commitment to accelerate decarbonization using a mix of renewable energy, fuels produced by renewable energy and energy storage.

Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Texas Storms, California Heat Waves and ‘Vulnerable’ Utilities

At-a-Glance:

In California, wildfires and heat waves in recent years forced utilities to shut off power to millions of homes and businesses. Now, Texas is learning that deadly winter storms and intense cold can do the same. To learn more, read Texas Storms, California Heat Waves and ‘Vulnerable’ Utilities.” Reading this article may require a subscription.

Key Takeaways:

  • Blackouts in Texas and California have revealed that power plants can be strained and knocked offline by the kind of extreme cold and hot weather that climate scientists have said will become more common as greenhouse gases build up in the atmosphere.
  • The electricity industry typically looks at average annual temperatures rather than seasonal ones. Changing the distribution of power sources based on the seasonal temperatures could help avoid electricity shortages.
  • The Electric Reliability Council of Texas could take a cue from states in colder climates and winterize its power plants and other equipment to prevent future weather-related power failures.
  • That Texas and California have been hardest hit makes clear that simplistic ideological explanations are often wrong. Texas, for example, has relied on market forces to balance its electric grid.

Path to 100% Perspective:

The impacts of climate change and extreme weather are not limited to Texas and California. All states can take steps to ensure their power and natural gas systems can handle the full range of temperatures that climate analysts forecast; winterization is just one example. States should also explore long-term energy storage solutions, such as thermal generation.

 

Photo by Alexander Popov on Unsplash