CLIMATE CHANGE SOLUTIONS:Nov 23, 2019

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Edmonton Davies Garage Solar PV

Lethbridge ATB Centre Solar PV

Breakthrough Batteries

It’s time to retire metrics like GDP. They don’t measure everything that matters

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Edmonton Davies Garage Solar PV

As part of the MCCAC’s Alberta Municipal Solar Program (AMSP), the City of Edmonton installed a 49.6 kW solar PV system on the roof of the Davies Garage Facility. The project was completed in November 2019.

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Lethbridge ATB Centre Solar PV

As part of the MCCAC’s Alberta Municipal Solar Program (AMSP), the City of Lethbridge installed a 31 kW solar PV system on the roof of the ATB Centre. The project was completed in November 2019.

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Breakthrough Batteries

Powering the Era of Clean Electrification

Rapid advancements in battery technology are poised to accelerate the pace of the global energy transition and play a major role in addressing the climate crisis. With more than $1.4 billion invested in battery technologies in the first half of 2019 alone, massive investments in battery manufacturing and steady advances in technology have set in motion a seismic shift in how we will organize energy systems as early as 2030.

According to evidence detailed in RMI’s Breakthrough Batteries Report, cost and performance improvements are quickly outpacing forecasts, as increased demand for electric vehicles (EVs), grid-tied storage, and other emerging applications further fuels the cycle of investment and cost declines and sets the stage for mass adoption.

Total manufacturing investment, both previous and planned until 2023, represents around $150 billion dollars, and analysts expect the capital cost for new planned battery manufacturing capacity to drop by more than half from 2018 to 2023. This is opening new markets—as performance and costs improve—and will push both lithium-ion (Li-ion) and new battery technologies across competitive thresholds faster than anticipated.

The report illustrates how diversifying applications will create opportunities for new battery chemistries to compete with Li-ion, including: solid state batteries, such as rechargeable zinc alkaline, Li-metal, and Li-sulfur that will help electrify heavier mobility applications; low-cost and long-duration batteries, such as zinc-based, flow, and high-temperature technologies that will be well suited to provide grid balancing in a high-renewable and EV future; and high-power batteries, which are well positioned to enable high penetration and fast charging of EVs.

As the battery market continues to grow, battery technology will contribute to the replacement of natural gas plants and gain a foothold in other new market segments, including heavy trucking and short-range aviation. With this transition, legacy infrastructure across the fossil fuel value chain risks becoming stranded, including gas pipelines and internal combustion engine manufacturing plants. Already, battery cost declines are contributing to cancellations of planned natural gas power generation.

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It’s time to retire metrics like GDP. They don’t measure everything that matters

The way we assess economic performance and social progress is fundamentally wrong, and the climate crisis has brought these concerns to the fore

The world is facing three existential crises: a climate crisis, an inequality crisis and a crisis in democracy. Will we be able to prosper within our planetary boundaries? Can a modern economy deliver shared prosperity? And can democracies thrive if our economies fail to deliver shared prosperity? These are critical questions, yet the accepted ways by which we measure economic performance give absolutely no hint that we might be facing a problem. Each of these crises has reinforced the fact that we need better tools to assess economic performance and social progress.

The standard measure of economic performance is gross domestic product (GDP), which is the sum of the value of goods and services produced within a country over a given period. GDP was humming along nicely, rising year after year, until the 2008 global financial crisis hit. The global financial crisis was the ultimate illustration of the deficiencies in commonly used metrics. None of those metrics gave policymakers or markets adequate warning that something was amiss. Though a few astute economists had sounded the alarm, the standard measures seemed to suggest everything was fine.

Since then, according to the GDP metric, the US has been growing slightly more slowly than in earlier years, but it’s nothing to worry about. Politicians, looking at these metrics, suggest slight reforms to the economic system and, they promise, all will be well.

In Europe, the impact of 2008 was more severe, especially in countries most affected by the euro crisis. But even there, apart from high unemployment numbers, standard metrics do not fully reflect the adverse impacts of the austerity measures, either the magnitude of people’s suffering or the impacts on long-term standards of living.

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