Why electric buses are an opportunity we can't afford to miss, motorbikes that sound like Kenny Rogers, and how to make a country carbon neutral


A critical moment for Canada

Canada has all the ingredients—resources and expertise—to be an electric vehicle leader. But, without proper assembly, we might never get a taste of Canada’s true EV potential. As this Globe and Mail op-ed reads, “Without an ecosystem that allows for the creation of a market and industry for batteries, Canada cannot participate.”

The opportunities are abundant for those who seek them. Look at provincially-owned utility Hydro-Quebec, which hopes to convince Chinese manufacturers to integrate its EV powertrain into new vehicles—one of many examples of Canada’s cleantech export potential.

And there is no shortage of international examples. Take U.S.-based trade group NATSO, (which represents truck stops and plazas) and charging infrastructure company ChargePoint: together, they recently leveraged a billion dollars to increase EV adoption. And then there’s Tesla, which upset some pretty big apple carts last week when its share price took an unprecedented turn north. That means a purely electric automaker is currently the second biggest carmaker in the world by market cap. Let that sink in. 

Electric buses an unmissable opportunity

As we await the budget, which will reportedly bear an “environmental focus,” mayors, transit authorities, and Clean Energy Canada alike are calling on the federal government not to miss the electric bus. Funding is needed to support the shift to electric, and the longer we wait, the more challenging and costly it becomes. As our executive director, Merran Smith, said last week, “buses hitting the road today will still be driving a decade from now, and we cannot afford to lock in obsolete technology. Electric buses are smart investments.”

Sunshine for your Monday

Speaking of smart investments, this should brighten your Monday. Canada’s largest solar plant will begin construction in Alberta following a $500-million investment from a Denmark-based infrastructure fund. As the head of Greengate Power—the company responsible for the project—said, “(the investment) comes at a time where we're talking about the flight of capital from Alberta…This demonstrates Alberta is still a very attractive place to invest.”

Time to up our game?

Norwegian energy giant Equinor has joined other major European oil and gas companies in redefining what it means to be “carbon neutral.” The energy company will now include the emissions from the fuel it sells to its customers in its calculations. The company is following in the footsteps of fellow oil producer Shell (although Spain’s Repsol has the most robust approach of all). And while there is some appetite for zero-emission commitments among Canadian companies—mining company Teck’s commitment to a net-zero 2050 is progress—the scope of those commitments so far falls short of industry leaders in Europe. 

Throwing emissions to the wind

While we’re on the subject, Equinor is floating the idea of, well, floating wind farms after the technology saw steeper cost declines than traditional offshore wind. Meanwhile, Shell is putting its emissions pledge into turbine-shaped action, announcing it will build its first wind facility in Queensland, Australia, to power a nearby LNG export facility.

Taxes that aren’t taxes (or even taxing)

Once again, the independent parliamentary budget officer has found that most households will receive more money back in rebates than they will pay through the federal carbon pricing system. The findings come as tax season begins, four months after the majority of Canadians voted for a party that supported the price. Carbon pricing isn’t as polarizing as some politicians would have us think.

Changing lives, two wheels at a time

Here’s a great story to kickstart your week. The government of Rwanda has plans to electrify the country’s entire motorbike taxi fleet after a hugely successful project by startup Ampersand, which leases electric motorbikes. The bikes cost a fraction of what diesel versions do to run, meaning drivers were able to up their profits while improving air quality and cutting noise pollution. In fact, the new bikes are so quiet that the startup added speakers so pedestrians are alerted to the oncoming bikes by the sound of Kenny Rogers (reportedly a favourite among drivers) instead of the growl of a diesel engine.

Giving 110%

(Well, technically, giving 300%). When it comes to the future of Canada’s energy industry, 100% renewable energy just isn’t enough according to this National Observer piece. “Canada exports two-thirds of its oil production today. For our energy sector to prosper, we should export two-thirds of our renewables tomorrow.”

How to make a country carbon neutral

The U.K. has brought its petrol and diesel vehicle sales ban forward by five years to 2035—even saying it might come sooner—as the country prepares to hit carbon neutrality by 2050. It also has plans to tackle emissions from polluting industries like steel and cement and is currently deciding how to spend US$1 billion earmarked for a carbon capture and storage “cluster” to slash industrial emissions.

‘Thy neighbour’s solar panels’

Contagions are in the news a lot recently. But you probably haven’t seen “behavioral contagion” in the headlines. It’s exactly what it sounds like: the concept that behaviours can be transferred from person to person. Why is this in a clean energy newsletter? Because when it comes to making changes that will benefit the climate fight, individuals can make a big difference. As this piece in the Atlantic concludes, “we have the power to act, and our actions have the power to shape those of people around us.”

Clean Energy Review is sponsored in part by Genus Capital Management, a leading provider of fossil-fuel-free investments. 
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