Why hydrogen is (literally) taking off, a peek at the new electric Honda, and the real costs of extreme weather


The sunshine solution

Last Tuesday, a Swiss adventurer and parachutist called Raphael Domjan made a world-first leap from an airplane. But it wasn't the jump itself that was remarkable, rather what he jumped from: a plane entirely powered by onboard solar panels. In fact, solar made all kinds of headlines last week.

In Alberta, a pilot project has been approved to convert abandoned oil and gas leases into solar arrays. Between two and four sites in the Municipal District of Taber are set to get a clean energy makeover. The head of the project said, "The idea is to help accelerate and reduce the cost of abandonment in the area … and also to decrease some of the energy costs for irrigation farmers." Meanwhile, the town of Lumsden in Saskatchewan is a step closer to a completing a planned solar project—reported to be one of the largest of its kind in the province—after receiving a federal grant.

In news from a little further afield, Australia is experiencing a "solar panel craze." According to this Bloomberg piece, more than a quarter of households now have rooftop panels, forcing the grid to become more flexible. As a number of coal power stations retire, the Australian Market Operator is figuring out the best ways to operate in the new clean energy reality.

Hydrogen takes off. Literally.

Hydrogen made from renewable power is on course clear another hurdle after analysis by research firm Wood Mackenzie found it will be cost competitive with hydrogen produced from fossil fuels within two decades. With costs predicted to drop 64% by 2040, clean hydrogen could be a key part of the future energy mix—maybe even powering commercial airplanes. A new startup headed by the former chief technology officer for Airbus has come up with a novel way to fuel up regional hydrogen-powered planes that doesn't require building new infrastructure.

New EVs hitting the roads

EV sales are "soaring" in Europe, with registrations of new plug-in hybrids more than quadrupling, while battery-electric vehicles more than doubled in the last ten months. The success of electric sales is buoying the auto market, with one analyst saying that, "if the current situation continues to improve, we could start to talk about a ‘V’ shaped recovery in the European car industry.” And in other EV news, Honda has released its first mass-produced electric car. Check it out here.

A metallic opportunity

With electric vehicle sales accelerating around the world, demand for low-carbon ways of sourcing metals like cobalt and nickel is on the rise. It's an opportunity that Ontario-based mining company Canadian Nickel Company Inc. has its eye on. The company is setting up a new subsidiary called NetZero Metals with the goal of "utilizing existing technologies to produce zero-carbon nickel, cobalt and iron products." And if you're interested in reading more about how mineral resources can play a role in climate action, this new report by the World Bank is worth digging into. 

Weathering the storm 

As the devastating wildfires in California make headlines, research has—like previous summers—revealed the links between climate change and the severity of the blazes. While the price of such events is felt in more than just dollars, a new report has found that the monetary cost of extreme weather has quadrupled in the last forty years. And Canada has had its fair share of extreme weather, from more storms in St. Johnssweltering nights in Calgary, to melting permafrost in the Canadian North.

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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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