The latest on the EV 'arms race,' why Australia is 'getting serious' with a huge hydrogen goal, and the potential for limitless clean energy


A new reality for Canadian energy

Last week, Clean Energy Canada released a new report, The New Reality, which explores changes in jobs, GDP and investment in Canadian energy between 2020 and 2030. The report, which was produced with Navius Research, found that while jobs in fossil fuels are set to decline, rapid growth in Canada’s clean energy sector will more than make up the difference.

Canada’s clean energy sector already employs 430,500 people—more than the entire real estate sector—and by 2030, that number is projected to grow almost 50% to 639,200 under the federal government’s new climate plan. At the same time, Canada’s fossil fuel sector will see a 9% drop in employment.

The International Energy Agency recently concluded that if the world is to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, no new oil and gas exploration and development will be needed going forward. The good news is that Canada’s clean energy sector is positioned to thrive. While oil and gas may have dominated Canada’s energy past, it’s Canada’s clean energy sector that will define its new reality.

EV ‘arms race’

Last week saw the EV manufacturing “arms race” intensify. General Motors upped its spending on EVs, committing $35 billion through 2025—an increase of 75% from March last year. Meanwhile, Volkswagen-owned Audi has said it will no longer make petrol and diesel cars, including hybrids, after 2026. In fact, Volkswagen has said it’s in talks with suppliers to secure direct access to raw materials to power its big battery plans, with a company board member saying, “We're all in a race.”

The car conundrum

Despite accelerated efforts to switch to EVs, car companies are still selling big polluting trucks and SUVs in huge numbers in Canada, according to a new report from Environmental Defence. As both this report and our 2020 report, Taking the Wheel, point out, one solution to this problem is a zero-emission vehicle standard, which would require automakers to sell a certain proportion of electric vehicles within Canada. And speaking of EV policies, Newfoundland and Labrador has become the latest province to introduce rebates for the purchase of electric vehicles.

Building the chain

Quebec-based Lion Electric is “moving at lightning speed,” with revenue in the first quarter of this year up more than 416% compared to the previous year. Absent a local EV battery supply chain, the company currently plans to import battery cells, likely from South Korea. But with the U.S. boasting a US$174-billion plan to “spur domestic production and sales of U.S.-made electric vehicles while bolstering domestic supply chains,” a North American supply chain could be coming soon. And as this piece in the Financial Post argues, America “can’t win” without Canada’s raw metals and minerals.

Steel solutions

Beyond just eliminating tailpipe emissions, some automakers are taking steps to reduce pollution from production too. Automaker Volvo has said it’s teaming up with a Swedish steelmaker to develop fossil-fuel free steel for use in the automotive industry. Such a market could be a big opportunity for Canadian steel, which—thanks to our comparatively clean electricity grid—is lower-carbon than many international competitors.

Keeping it real

“When it comes to climate action, two different worlds exist. There’s the world where its ardent proponents do battle over numbers and details, and there’s the world where everyone else lives.” So writes Clean Energy Canada’s Trevor Melanson in a new op-ed on why, when trying to engage Canadians in climate action, we need to talk about things that are “real”—like electric vehicles, wildfires or floods. As the op-ed puts it, it’s those kinds of stories that stick.

‘Getting serious’ about hydrogen

Western Australia is hoping to produce 100 gigawatts of renewable energy for green hydrogen by 2030, with that figure to double by 2040. For context on the sheer scale of that ambition, note that the whole of Australia, annually, uses around 70 gigawatts of power currently. As Hydrogen Minister Alannah MacTiernan said (yes, that’s right, Western Australia has a hydrogen minister), “if we are going to be an exporter … we obviously have to get very serious.” 

Prioritizing renewables

A new crowd-funded report from REN21 has done a deep dive into the use of renewable energy around the world, covering “policies, markets, and much more.” The study indicates that the share of global renewable energy, while expanding fast, is still small compared to fossil fuels, pointing out that “the world will not reach its climate and development goals until renewable energy is prioritised.”

National Indigenous Peoples Day

An inspiring fact to kick off National Indigenous Peoples Day: Indigenous communities are the second-largest asset owners of clean energy in Canada after utilities and government. And last week saw another Indigenous-led clean energy project take a step forward with the proposal of a new solar facility in Yukon, which, if built, will be the biggest in the territory. For more stories about the role Indigenous communities have played in the energy transition, tune into the most recent episode of the Decolonizing Power podcast.

Limitless clean energy

Canadian company General Fusion is set to build its first pilot power plant outside of London in the U.K. as the Jeff Bezos-backed company takes its fusion energy goals to the next level. Fusion creates large quantities of zero-emission energy with no atomic waste by binding atoms together (unlike traditional fission reactors, which split atoms). The company is one of many in the race to create economically viable fusion technology, which, if successful, could generate limitless clean energy.

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Clean Energy Review is a weekly digest of climate and clean energy news and insight from across Canada and around the world.

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