It’s Go Time for Canada’s Green Recovery

The call rises from advocates, policy experts and, increasingly, corporate leaders.

Which way ahead? The Just Recovery proposal, backed by more than 400 groups including labour unions and environmental groups, prioritizes fighting climate change, mending the social safety net and recognizing the rights of Indigenous peoples. Photo by Sean Kilpatrick, the Canadian Press.

The shock to Canada’s economy by the coronavirus arrived at a critical moment for the planet. The next six months, warns the International Energy Agency, will be pivotal to avoiding nightmare outcomes on climate change.

Since late April, the federal government had been asking for advice on how to recover from a lockdown that’s caused millions of job losses while potentially knocking 12 per cent off the country’s GDP. But as a June 19 deadline for public submissions approached, activist groups like 350 Canada argued that “most of the submissions are coming from fossil fuel companies, banks, and corporations who only care about protecting their bottom line.”

350 urged its supporters to digitally flood the submissions process. Demand that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lead an economic recovery guided by the increasingly dire warnings of climate scientists, the group said, as well as the human rights of Indigenous peoples.

“So many people spoke up that the government’s online consultation portal temporarily crashed from the traffic,” 350 wrote in an email to its mailing list shortly after the process closed.

Groups like 350 sense opportunity in the broader political moment. Global protests caused by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have heightened public awareness of deep social inequalities at the same time that the Trudeau government has spent $250 billion on emergency coronavirus relief and assigned three cabinet ministers to craft an emissions-reducing recovery.

When climate advocates proposed an economy-shifting Leap Manifesto back in 2016, it was scoffed at by then-NDP Alberta premier Rachel Notley as “naïve” and dismissed as “a prescription for economic ruin” in the Globe & Mail.

Four years later, with the European Union moving forward with a proposed green recovery worth $800 billion and U.S. Democratic candidate Joe Biden floating the idea of spending trillions of dollars on a green stimulus targeted in part to communities of colour, the politics of massive government-led investment programs to address climate change and its inequities have shifted profoundly — at least for now.

“Things we were told aren’t possible for a very long time are actually possible once they’re prioritized,” said Amara Possian, a Toronto-based campaigner with 350. “In this moment where the cracks are exposed, it’s clear that our economy can’t meet the needs of people and the planet. And it’s also clear that everything’s on the table, people are ready to dream and to fight and make sure we aren’t going back to a deadly and destructive normal.”

In addition to cutting Canada’s economic dependence on industries that disrupt and destroy planet-stabilizing ecosystems, this type of recovery could mean giving “Indigenous folks more resources to be able to better manage the areas that they’ve already lived in for generations,” said Lindsey Bacigal, a spokesperson for the organization Indigenous Climate Action.

Hundreds of civil society groups support calls by 350 and Indigenous Climate Action for a “Just Recovery” in Canada.

These demands, radical though they may seem to some politicians, are increasingly aligned with mainstream financial realities. The business case for oil, whose price briefly went into the negatives this spring, is at risk of tanking as low-carbon alternatives accelerate. The macroeconomic trend is so apparent that industry outlets such as OilPrice are now predicting 2021 will be “the year of renewable energy” while oil sands giant Suncor explores a future where bitumen is no longer used to produce gasoline and diesel.

Corporate Knights, a Canadian media outlet and research company that describes itself as “the voice of clean capitalism,” calculates that if the federal government spends roughly $10 billion per year over the next decade on green industries, money it could find by closing unproductive corporate tax loopholes, it would catalyze $681 billion in private sector investment and potentially create double the jobs lost in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s the first time in our lives that all the standard operating procedures have been thrown out,” said Toby Heaps, the organization’s CEO and co-founder. “That never happens. There’s a window open, and the question is, are we going to go through it?”

tarsands_smoke.jpg
Alberta’s oilsands. In May, PM Trudeau called for ‘leadership’ and ‘clear targets on fighting climate change to draw on global capital.’ But a main source of his recovery advice are Canada’s big banks, bucking global trends in their expressed commitment to oil and gas expansion. Photo via Greenpeace.

Though the global shift away from fossil fuels is rapidly gaining momentum, oil and gas producers, along with their powerful financial allies, still wield huge political influence in Canada. Trudeau’s efforts to reconcile these two realities — show the world he’s serious about fighting climate change while also protecting an entrenched national industry — have resulted to date in garbled coronavirus relief policies.

Oil and gas producers currently can apply to a $550 million loan fund to help them prevent methane leaks. Yet at the same time, those oil and gas producers’ methane emissions are exempt from the Canadian carbon tax. To access another pool of loans, companies have to disclose data on their climate impacts even as the federal government has no mechanism to enforce it.

“As always,” reports Politico, “there’s a catch.”

In May, the Prime Minister said “there is a need for clear leadership and clear targets to reach on fighting climate change to draw on global capital.” But a week later the Globe & Mail reported he was seeking recovery advice from the heads of Canada’s big banks, who in addition to being proponents of renewable energy are outspoken defenders of oil and gas expansion.

Heaps worries that favorable economics for green industries won’t alone result in recovery policies that align Canada’s economy with the urgent actions necessary to stabilize global temperature rise. He thinks massive and sustained public pressure is crucial: “If millions of people don’t call for it, I think there’s a big risk we miss this opportunity.” The “Just Recovery” proposal, backed by more than 400 organizations, calls for prioritizing fighting climate change, mending the social safety net and recognizing the rights of Indigenous peoples. Supporters include physicians, disability advocates, labour unions and environmental groups.

“There’s a ton of potential public support right now,” Possian said. “Our job as organizers and activists is to figure out how to activate that. There’s the challenge because of the pandemic of figuring out how to reach people when traditional face-to-face organizing methods aren’t on the table.”

350 is organizing digital rallies at the moment. In the fall there is potential for young school strikers associated with Greta Thunberg to refuse to return to classes. If lockdown restrictions continue to lift there could be large in-person protests.

What activists are demanding makes sense to a range of financiers and economists, researchers in the U.K and the U.S. have found. Earlier this year they surveyed 231 central bank officials and other economic experts and identified coronavirus stimulus policies that could “deliver large economic multipliers, reasonably quickly, and shift our emissions trajectory towards net zero.” Investing $1 million in fossil fuels creates on average 2.65 jobs, according to one study cited in their paper, but more than seven jobs if it’s invested in greener industries.

In Canada’s fossil fuel industry, even if production continues to increase, jobs are projected to decline steeply. As private capital investment in the oil patch fast recedes, bitumen producers are pursuing driverless trucks and other technologies that shrink their workforces.

Climate advocates urge the government, therefore, spend its recovery dollars in ways likely to produce lasting jobs. Aggressive federal investments in energy efficiency — which requires an army of workers across the country to install heat pumps, seal off cracks, improve ventilation and do other things that reduce a building’s energy usage — could put “220,000 Canadians to work over the next 12 months,” according to Corporate Knights.

That in turn could reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by 22 megatons, which would be comparable to taking every vehicle off the road in B.C.

There are potentially social benefits as well. Research suggests that economic spinoffs are highest when energy efficiency programs, which result in reduced energy bills, are crafted specifically for low- and moderate-income households. “For the working poor and seniors in particular… the stimulus benefits are much better, because those households are more likely to spend the money they save in the local economy,” said Brendan Haley, policy director of the group Efficiency Canada.

Such programs might not be of much use to Indigenous people, however, unless they include federal actions to solve a severe housing crisis in Canada’s North, address the 75 per cent of reserves with contaminated water and provide safe housing for vulnerable Indigenous women who are at much greater risk of going missing or being murdered.

“A lot of Indigenous folks aren’t even at the point of talking about retrofitting or making houses greener because these folks don’t even have access to adequate housing to begin with,” Bacigal said.

This is an example of why First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities need to be part of the recovery talks from the very start, she said. “I don’t think a recovery could be called ‘just’ if it goes forward without adequate representation of Indigenous peoples.”

solar_panels.jpg
Investing $1 million in fossil fuels creates on average 2.65 jobs, a study found, but more than seven jobs if it’s invested in greener industries. Photo via 10 10, Creative Commons licensed.

The pandemic has heightened recognition, even among Canada’s conventional business powerbrokers, that the current system needs to change in order to stave off political and economic upheaval down the road.

In early June, the CEO of Suncor, Mark Little, wrote in Corporate Knights that the “temporary economic lockdown triggered by the 2020 pandemic is giving us a glimpse into a not-too-distant future where the transformation of our energy system could disrupt demand on a similar scale.”

Little and his co-author Laura Kilcrease, head of the provincial research and development corporation Alberta Innovates, linked to a report from the French banking giant BNP Paribas arguing “that the economics of oil for gasoline and diesel vehicles versus wind- and solar-powered [electric vehicles] are now in relentless and irreversible decline.”

Kilcrease thinks Canadians need to take those projections seriously. “Even if you believe the [oilsands] industry is 30, 40 or 50 years off from being no longer needed in the way it is today, that’s really a blink in the eye when you start to think about the transformation of such a large industry,” she said.

Alberta Innovates is studying what would happen if bitumen were used to produce things like carbon fibre, a valuable lightweight material that can be used in electric vehicle manufacturing, instead of gasoline and diesel. Revenues from the oilsands, it predicts, could potentially quadruple. “Just by diverting 852,000 barrels a day into carbon fibre… you’re actually going to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 126 megatons a year, that is ginormous,” she said.

Difficult questions also arise when thinking about how to transition Canada’s energy supply to 100 per cent fossil-free sources. Expanding the hydropower that already supplies 90 per cent of the country’s electricity can disrupt ecosystems necessary for the survival of Inuit communities. Building wind turbines across the southern prairies and connecting them to an interprovincial clean energy grid, as some green recovery proponents suggest, won’t necessarily replace the stable and well-paid union jobs lost during the phase-out of coal.

“Operating wind facilities doesn’t take a lot of people,” said Brett Dolter, an assistant professor at the University of Regina who studies clean energy. “It’s a different [employment] model and that’s a potential downside of the transition.”

He doesn’t see that as reason alone to abandon the push for a federally-led green recovery, but “you want to be thoughtful in the design.”

Ready to inform that discussion is years of research already conducted in Canada about navigating the trade-offs of a transition away from the fossil fuels. The work includes the federal government’s task force on a just transition for coal workers, the Yellowhead Institute’s analysis of what restoring Indigenous land sovereignty actually looks like in practice, and modelling by Alberta Innovates of a bitumen industry shifting away from road transportation fuels.

The pandemic demonstrated government can quickly intervene in a time of crisis, drawing on science and policy experts to shift graph lines — and also people’s assumptions about what is possible. Apply that lesson to the climate crisis and an outdated economy, say a swelling chorus of voices. But time is running out.

“The choices that we make right now,” said Possian, “are going to shape society for decades to come.”  [Tyee]

SOURCE

Geoff Dembicki  reports for The Tyee. His work also appears in Vice, Foreign Policy and the New York Times.

France to champion international crime of ecocide

The possibility of establishing ecocide as an international crime has just come significantly closer. President Emmanuel Macron this week gave his official response to the 150 randomly selected members of the French citizens assembly on climate, the Convention Citoyenne pour le Climat (CCC), a body he convened last year to provide proposals to the government to tackle climate change.

The assembly’s deliberations took 9 months. Foremost among their proposals, supported by a remarkable 99.3% of the assembly, was making ecocide a crime. Macron stopped short of accepting the exact text proposed, but clearly endorsed the principle. He assured the citizens of his support:

“We’ll study, with you and legal experts, how this principle can be incorporated into French law.”

Moreover he specifically promised, on behalf of France, to champion the enshrining of ecocide crime in international law.

“As for ecocide, I think I was the first leader to use that term when the Amazon was burning,” the head of state said. “So I share the ambition that you defend … the mother of all battles is international: to ensure that this term is enshrined in international law so that leaders … are accountable before the International Criminal Court.”

This is a huge step forward. Already the conversation is expanding and interest in the subject is growing fast. Our alerts for press mentions of “ecocide” are pinging several times a day now (bear in mind 18 months ago this was once or twice a month!)….

The French developments are being celebrated in particular by human rights expert and long-term ecocide law advocate Valérie Cabanes, who is a close associate of the Stop Ecocide campaign. It was Cabanes who in January presented to the CCC in January the ecocide law proposal for which she had previously been lobbying. Inspired by the work of our co-founder Polly Higgins, she has dedicated many years to progressing the legal protection of nature. She is both thrilled and resolute:

“We take Emmanuel Macron at his word concerning his wish to fight for the recognition of the crime of ecocide at the International Criminal Court on behalf of France. He says he shares our ‘emotion faced with those who destroy entire ecosystems with “full knowledge of the facts and with impunity”.’ Mr President, we expect you to stick to your words! In the meantime: Thank you!”

Look out soon on our social media for a conversation with Valérie Cabanes and Jojo Mehta in discussion on what this means for France and for the wider campaign.

Convergence of injustice

The world has been shaken by events in the US, and the environmental movement among others has had to consciously examine its assumptions. Should any of us be surprised that ecological, health, social and racial injustice which have been turned away from – and even violently silenced – have all converged to become visible at once? Read our campaign statement HERE.

Speech, debate, interview

Our co-founder Jojo Mehta presented to the UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA) conference on 26th June as part of a panel on The Rule of Law and the Environment. You can listen to her 15 minute speech HERE

If you missed the exciting debate in Spain last month with Joaquín Araujo, Baltasar Garzón and our own Maite Mompó, you can watch it HERE

If you missed the exciting debate in Spain last month with Joaquín Araujo, Baltasar Garzón and our own Maite Mompó, you can watch it HERE

Amplification

We have a feeling things are only going to accelerate from here. So stay tuned on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and keep on sharing our content, or take it a step further and Be an ambassador for Stop Ecocide… It’s your support that takes this work forward!

And for something new to share, here is an excellent short video on the work to criminalise #ECOCIDE – put together by INTERPRT, our forensic investigation partners. It includes original footage of Vanuatu Ambassador’s official speech at the International Criminal Court, Dec ’19. Watch HERE or click on the below image taken from the video.

We felt appropriate to include an image of Polly Higgins & Jojo Mehta together as Polly would have been 52 yesterday if she were still with us – “interdependence day” as she used to call it.


 

 

 

The Future of Hydrogen

Seizing today’s opportunities

Hydrogen fuel cell technology presents us with an opportunity to switch over from carbon-emitting fossil fuels to clean energy.

At the request of the government of Japan under its G20 presidency, the International Energy Agency produced this landmark report to analyse the current state of play for hydrogen and to offer guidance on its future development.

The report finds that clean hydrogen is currently enjoying unprecedented political and business momentum, with the number of policies and projects around the world expanding rapidly. It concludes that now is the time to scale up technologies and bring down costs to allow hydrogen to become widely used. The pragmatic and actionable recommendations to governments and industry that are provided will make it possible to take full advantage of this increasing momentum.

Hydrogen and energy have a long shared history – powering the first internal combustion engines over 200 years ago to becoming an integral part of the modern refining industry. It is light, storable, energy-dense, and produces no direct emissions of pollutants or greenhouse gases. But for hydrogen to make a significant contribution to clean energy transitions, it needs to be adopted in sectors where it is almost completely absent, such as transport, buildings and power generation.

The Future of Hydrogen provides an extensive and independent survey of hydrogen that lays out where things stand now; the ways in which hydrogen can help to achieve a clean, secure and affordable energy future; and how we can go about realising its potential.

Demand for hydrogen

upplying hydrogen to industrial users is now a major business around the world. Demand for hydrogen, which has grown more than threefold since 1975, continues to rise – almost entirely supplied from fossil fuels, with 6% of global natural gas and 2% of global coal going to hydrogen production.

As a consequence, production of hydrogen is responsible for CO2 emissions of around 830 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to the CO2 emissions of the United Kingdom and Indonesia combined.

Global demand for pure hydrogen, 1975-2018

Last updated 18 Nov 2019


Growing support

The number of countries with polices that directly support investment in hydrogen technologies is increasing, along with the number of sectors they target.

There are around 50 targets, mandates and policy incentives in place today that direct support hydrogen, with the majority focused on transport.

Over the past few years, global spending on hydrogen energy research, development and demonstration by national governments has risen, although it remains lower than the peak in 2008.

Current policy support for hydrogen deployment, 2018

Last updated 25 Nov 2019

MORE

 

Hydrogen as part of Canada’s energy transition

As Canada navigates the clean energy transition, cleaner technologies and solutions are attracting attention. Hydrogen has made headlines globally as a vital component of future energy systems.

The clean-burning fuel does not produce carbon emissions upon consumption and so can replace fossil fuels in many sectors including heavy industry, transportation and heating. But its full potential for reducing emissions depends on how it is produced, which in turn is influenced by costs and technologies. Its future role in Canada’s energy transition is yet to be determined.

This media brief summarizes some of the existing information about hydrogen use in Canada, while identifying key uses, technologies and Canadian companies involved.

KEY FACTS

What is hydrogen?

  • Hydrogen is an energy carrier rather than an energy source. This means its potential role has similarities with that of electricity.

How and why is it currently produced?

  • Currently, the majority of hydrogen around the world is produced from fossil fuels (76% from natural gas, 23% from coal). This is known as grey and black hydrogen, respectively.
  • In some cases, hydrogen from fossil fuels is produced in conjunction with carbon capture and storage, meaning that the carbon pollution is captured during production and sequestered. This is known as blue hydrogen.
  • It can also be produced from electricity and water using a process called electrolysis. This method does not produce direct emissions but requires electricity. Hydrogen produced from renewable electricity (wind, solar, hydropower, tidal, etc.) is known as green hydrogen.
  • Hydrogen from other non-emitting sources—such as nuclear power—does not currently have an established colour designation.
  • Blue and green hydrogen are commonly referred to as “clean” hydrogen. Clean hydrogen currently makes up a small proportion of the total produced worldwide (less than 0.7%).
  • Canada ranks in the top 10 of global hydrogen producers and produces some 3 million tonnes of hydrogen annually for industrial use—approximately 4% of the global total (69 million tonnes per year).
  • Most hydrogen in Canada is produced by the chemical industry from fossil fuels (53%) and the oil and gas sector (47%). Geographically, most hydrogen* is produced in Western Canada (76%), followed by Central Canada (17%) and Atlantic Canada (7%).
  • Only 0.01% of hydrogen produced globally is currently used in hydrogen-powered vehicles.

What is its potential?

  • Black and grey hydrogen are not climate solutions as the emissions released during the production process will impede decarbonization efforts.
  • Clean hydrogen’s carbon-cutting potential is large however, particularly in heavy-duty transportation and industry where decarbonization options are limited. Options include:
    • Transportation: Hydrogen can be used in fuel cells for personal vehicles, trucks, trains, ships, and aircraft. It has particular benefits for heavy-duty transportation, with hydrogen fuel cells providing advantages over other zero-emission technologies—like battery electric vehicles—for longer journeys. Canadian hydrogen fuel cell technology is in use in hydrogen-powered trains in Germany.
    • Industry: Hydrogen has been flagged as a potential solution for industries like steel that require extremely high temperatures that are difficult to reach with other clean fuel sources. There is a pilot project underway in Sweden that is exploring this technique.
    • Heating: Many buildings use natural gas for heat, and a portion of that energy could come from hydrogen instead. Pilot projects are underway trialing hydrogen into the natural gas network (e.g. in Keele in the U.K.).

How much does it cost?

Hydrogen as a Canadian industry

  • In 2017, the Canadian hydrogen and fuel cell sector had revenues of $207 million and provided over 1,600 jobs in Canada. The majority (80%) of these jobs were in British Columbia, 13% in Ontario, and 7% elsewhere in Canada. The predominant market focus of the sector is applications for light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, fuelling infrastructure, and hydrogen production. Companies include:
    • Ballard Power Systems in Burnaby, B.C., a developer and manufacturer of fuel cell products with US$106.3 million in revenue as of 2019, and some 700 jobs as of 2020.
    • Hydrogenics in Mississauga is a developer and manufacturer of hydrogen generation and fuel cell products with $34 million in sales revenue in 2018 and around 160 jobs as of 2017. It was acquired by major U.S. diesel engine manufacturer Cummins in the fall of 2019.
    • New Flyer in Winnipeg is North America’s largest manufacturer of transit buses and motor coaches. It has assembled fuel cell buses for demonstration projects.
    • Hydrogen Technology & Energy Corporation (HTEC) in North Vancouver is a developer and provider of hydrogen supply solutions, including fuelling infrastructure.
    • Renewable Hydrogen Canada (RH2C) in Sidney, B.C., plans to produce hydrogen from electrolysis using renewable electricity and has partnered with utility FortisBC.
    • Proton Technologies in Calgary, Alberta, hopes to develop a process for producing low-cost hydrogen by injecting oxygen into abandoned oil reservoirs to combust unswept oil, while leaving underground the emissions released during this reaction.

*While these data are dated, total production of 3.4 million tonnes of hydrogen in that year is comparable to annual production levels reported by Natural Resources Canada in 2019. Therefore, production by sector and region in 2004 likely still offers a useful indicator for more recent hydrogen production. Western Canada comprises British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Central Canada comprises Ontario and Quebec. Atlantic Canada comprises New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOURCE

Ballard’s Roadmap to Clean Freight Transport—Powered By Fuel Cells

freight-transport

For the freight industry, change is coming: it’s rolling down the road and gaining speed every day. That change is zero-emission trucks.

As freight transportation is expected to increase 40% by 2050, the move toward cleaner trucking is being accelerated by government regulations and consumer pressure, with some manufacturers making significant investments.

For heavy transport applications, there is growing consensus that the most suitable powertrain is hydrogen fuel cell electric.

Fuel cells deliver the range, payload capacity, refuel time and all-weather performance that commercial trucking needs.

freight-transportAlthough pressure on the industry is increasing, many transport operators and vehicle OEMs are finding it difficult to make the first steps.

They know that the transition to zero-emission fleets is inevitable, but they want the changeover to be efficient, smooth, and cost-effective, and they’re not sure where to begin.

So in this article, we’ll help bridge that gap by outlining Ballard’s roadmap to zero-emission freight transport for truck operators and vehicle OEMs.

Fuel cells: the high-performance option for commercial trucking 

Among the zero-emissions alternatives, only hydrogen fuel cells offer enough power, range, payload performance, and refueling speed to compare with diesel:

      • Climbing power and highway speed: Only fuel cell trucks can sustain highway speed for long periods and climb mountains with uncompromised performance. Battery electric trucks just don’t compare.
      • Long range: Fuel cell trucks can travel hundreds of miles between refueling—about double the range of battery electric trucks. The difference is even more striking with heavier payloads.
      • Payload that compares to diesel: Fuel cell heavy-duty trucks have almost the same payload as diesel trucks, and in some cases are direct route-for-route replacements. Battery electric truck payloads may be 30% less than diesel for a heavy duty (class 8) truck.
      • Refueling takes minutes: Fuel cell trucks are refueled in less than 12 minutes, compared to two to five hours to recharge an electric truck battery.

(Click graphic to enlarge.)
Ballard-Truck-infographic-final

Fuel cell trucks are especially well suited to long-haul trucking, long duty cycles and for heavyweight cargo like beverage trucks and drayage trucks.

This includes medium to heavy duty (class 4 to 8) vehicles more than 200 miles/350km per day.

The time to start the transition is now

While we’re in an earlier phase, the transition to zero-emission truck fleets has definitely begun.

Truck emission regulations are now in place in Europe and China, and are being developed in California. OEMs and operators are under pressure to change out their diesel powertrains.

Fuel cells are an established, mature zero-emissions technology for heavy duty powertrains and their value for truck applications is being recognized with growing investments by companies such as Daimler Truck, Volvo, Nikola, Bosch, Cummins and Weichai.

It’s clear that hydrogen will be a key player in the decarbonization of the heavy-duty transportation sector (which is more difficult to abate than light duty vehicles, where most use cases are a good match for batteries since they require lower range and utilization.)

Furthermore, the cost of low-carbon hydrogen has been dropping year after year, driven by the current low cost of renewable energy and the emergence of carbon capture technology.

Ballard-powered trucks are on the road today 

For OEMs and transport operators, Ballard is the fuel cell technology partner with global experience. Over 2,000 Ballard-powered fuel cell trucks have been deployed in China since 2018.

fuel-cell-trucks-chinaCommercial Trucks in China powered by Ballard Fuel Cells

These are the world’s largest operating fleets of fuel cell powered commercial vehicles.

To date, commercial trucks and buses with Ballard fuel cell technology inside have travelled more than 30 million kilometres and one million operating hours on the road.

Ballard has the product roadmap to get you there faster

At Ballard, we’re continually improving our technologies.

Over the years, we’ve significantly reduced the lifecycle cost of our fuel cells while improving performance, and our product roadmap is designed to make our products more accessible to truck operators and OEMs.

ballards-roadmap

Our fuel cell products must meet strict technical and performance truck requirements, with:

      • High power density to fit in tight engine spaces: Ballard stack technology can deliver more than 4kW/L.
      • High durability: we’ve already proven our stack lifetime, exceeding 30,000 hours in bus operation.
      • Low lifecycle cost to deliver an affordable vehicle: annual maintenance costs for fuel cell systems not exceeding diesel engine and refurbishing of the fuel cell stack.
      • Easy vehicle integration: we provide “engine bay” or “rooftop” flexible configurations.
      • Higher operating temperatures minimize radiator size requirements.

Because different vehicles have different power requirements based on their size and usage, Ballard is committed to offering a complete range of fuel cell product configurations and sizes, from 45kW to 400kW over the next few years.

We’ve already launched the first product of our new FCmove™ platform with a 70kW version. We’ll be making new product release announcements in the coming months.

We are committed to the freight transport industry 

Ballard is a long-term partner, with a commitment to assisting freight operators and OEMs adopt fuel cell technology. We:

    • Continually invest in product and technology development to improve performance and reduce both initial costs and total cost of operation of fuel cell trucks. And costs are trending downward. According to a 2020 Deloitte-Ballard report that explores medium and heavy duty trucks:

“In less than 10 years, it will become cheaper to run a fuel cell electric vehicle than it is to run a battery electric vehicle or an internal combustion engine vehicle for certain commercial applications.”

          • Seek new industrial partnerships to accelerate the industrialization and cost reduction of fuel cell engines.
          • Engage in pilot fleet deployments by working with industry partners across the hydrogen eco-system to foster deployment of fuel cell electric trucks for early applications such as garbage collection, regional delivery, and drayage trucks.
          • Develop new business offerings such as “vehicle as a service” for truck fleet operators that include the vehicle, hydrogen fuel, and financing options to reduce adoption risks.

clean-freight-transport

Meeting the remaining challenges to widespread adoption

To expedite the widespread deployment of fuel cell trucks, some cost and infrastructure factors still need to be addressed—but efforts are underway:

          • Cost and availability of hydrogen must improve to reach $5/kg at the pump in order to reach parity with diesel.
          • The overall powertrain integration of trucks must be further addressed to reduce the number of subsystems including cooling, power conversion, and controllers.
          • Costs must continue to drop for fuel cell systems and on-board hydrogen storage to achieve parity with incumbent diesel powertrains.

Today’s leaders are creating change

The world is finally making its move toward clean energy—with governments, and some automotive companies leading the way.

At Ballard, we believe that fuel cells offer the cleanest, best-performing alternative to diesel power for trucking and we are developing a range of high performance durable fuel cell systems to meet the industry requirements.

For a forward-looking OEM or fleet operator, we have the technology, the expertise, the intellectual property, and the road experience to make fuel cell trucks cleaner, more accessible and more affordable.

Our product road map uses standard technology building blocks to serve a variety of transport applications in order to enable the widespread adoption of fuel cell based zero emission mobility.

SOURCE

‘Clean stimulus’ isn’t idealistic, it’s good economic policy

“Climate change is perhaps the greatest threat of our lifetimes, and that would be reason enough to ensure our recovery efforts are also helping us combat it. But it’s not even the only reason. Technology has evolved. Values have evolved. And our global economy has evolved with them.”

Canadian environmental and other civil society groups want the federal budget to keep its climate focus. Pexels

You may have missed it, but an interesting evolution happened here in Canada over the past two months: the country’s clean energy sector, which employs 298,000 Canadians, rallied together as it has never rallied before.

Canada’s clean energy sector has long been especially quiet compared to its fossil fuel counterpart. Unlike in oil and gas, clean energy jobs are not regionally centralized, most companies are relatively small, and industry associations are numerous. Wind power, solar power, electric vehicles, biofuels, cleantech, hydro: there’s an industry association for each of them.

Indeed, it speaks to one of the fundamental strengths of clean energy – just how diverse it is. And on the other hand, this same fragmentation is why the sector struggles to make itself heard.

But that changed this year. In the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns, over 360 signatories representing more than 2,100 companies—mostly in the clean energy sector—came together around a shared vision for Canada’s economic recovery. They asked for clean stimulus measures and a commitment to maintain and build on Canada’s climate efforts, key ingredients for a resilient recovery.

In short, the sector found its voice. And you should hear them out, because their argument may be more compelling than you think. While the idea of a clean (or green) recovery has made the news rounds in recent weeks, less covered were a number of new reports that together draw the same conclusion – that clean stimulus isn’t idealistic, it’s good economic policy.

SOURCE

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Dominion Sells Gas Business and Cancels Atlantic Coast Pipeline, in Clean Energy Pivot

Dominion and Duke Energy will walk away from controversial pipeline project as U.S. utilities grapple with future role of natural gas

Virginia clean energy mandates, pipeline costs and challenges, and shifting nationwide imperatives are driving Dominion to move away from natural gas.

U.S. utility group Dominion Energy agreed Sunday to sell most of its natural gas business and abandon its multi-billion dollar Atlantic Coast Pipeline project with Duke Energy meant to supply its home-state market of Virginia.

The announcement marks a major shift for Dominion away from competitive natural gas markets and toward state-regulated utilities focused increasingly on clean energy. Those utilities include Dominion Virginia, its flagship which faces a new state mandate to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2045, and is asking state regulators to approve a long-range energy plan that vastly increases its stake in solar power, energy storage and offshore wind.

Dominion will sell its 7,700 miles of natural gas storage and transmission pipelines and about 900 billion cubic feet of gas storage facilities to Berkshire Hathaway Inc. for about $9.7 billion including debt, giving a major boost to its goal to reach net-zero emissions of carbon and methane by 2050. The deal still requires approval by federal regulators. Dominion will retain a 50-percent stake in its Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Maryland while Berkshire Hathaway will acquire a 25 percent stake.

With the sale of 100 percent of Dominion Energy Transmission, Questar Pipeline and Carolina Gas Transmission and 50 percent of Iroquois Gas Transmission System, Dominion expects up to 90 percent of its future operating earnings will come from regulated electric and natural gas utilities serving about 7 million customers in Virginia, the Carolinas, Ohio, and Utah. Those include South Carolina utility SCANA Corp., acquired last year, and Questar Corp., a natural gas utility serving Utah.

    • Dominion has long held significant political influence in its home state;

laws passed in 2015 and 2018

     limited oversight of customer rates and large capital projects from the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC). But things have been changing quickly in the Mid-Atlantic state.

Last year Democrats took control of Virginia’s legislature, and in March passed a 100-percent clean energy law that will force Dominion to supply 30 percent of its power from renewables by 2030 and 100 percent by 2045, compared to about 5 percent today. Dominion Virginia now gets about 25 percent of its power from coal, one-third from natural gas and more than one-third from nuclear power.

Dominion Virginia’s new integrated resource plan (IRP) submitted in May calls for nearly 16 gigawatts of solar, more than 5 gigawatts of offshore wind, and 2.7 gigawatts of energy storage over the next 15 years. It’s a major turnaround from previous plans rejected by the SCC that would have increased its reliance on newly built natural gas plants, although the new plan doesn’t commit to closing existing natural gas plants.

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Carbon pricing and the exit from fossil fuels

Adam Tooze argues the European Green Deal and young Europeans’ activism are fostering a virtuous circle favouring more rapid decarbonisation.

Coronavirus, crisis, and the end of neoliberalism

In the 1980s the dawning of global awareness of the climate problem coincided with the politics of the market revolution, also known as neoliberalism. Naomi Klein has described this conjuncture as a tragic coincidence. Environmental policy was steered towards limited, market-based solutions, above all centring on schemes for emissions trading. To turn the giant oil tanker of the modern economy in a new direction we would rely on the price mechanism.

Thirty years on, as the pace of the climate crisis accelerates, the self-confident assumptions of policy discourse framed in the 1980s and 90s have collapsed. Rather than imagining ourselves as captains of a giant ship, as Jörg Haas of the German Greens’ Heinrich Böll Stiftung has argued, our situation today is more like that of a rally driver hurtling towards a corner, desperately trying to point the car in the right direction. We should be pumping the gas, hitting the brakes and pivoting the steering wheel all at once.

If 2008 and its aftermath had not already taught us, after Covid-19 we know for sure that when the status quo is put seriously in question the actual motto of modern government is: ‘whatever it takes’. And, faced with the scale and urgency of the climate crisis, we must demand a no-less-radical approach.

We should be using everything, from targeted investment strategy to conditional government aid and green ‘quantitative easing’. Subsidised feed-in tariffs, penalties for dirty consumption and generous spending on research and development all have their role to play. Nothing should be off the table, including outright prohibitions and nationalisation of key business interests.

Carbon pricing

Since time is not on our side, we need to preserve the maximum freedom of action. We should avoid, as far as possible, getting bogged down in politically damaging debates about the totemic policies of an earlier era—above all carbon pricing. Time is too short to cling to the neoliberal dogma that creating markets and setting prices is the high road to success in all cases. Carbon prices, whether set by emissions trading or carbon taxes, are unlikely to be enough.

Take petrol, which in Europe and Asia has long been the object of eye-watering taxation. As a result, Europeans and Asians drive smaller cars than Americans. But they still drive far too much and their cars are far too big. Prices are not enough. We shall need to use more direct disincentives, regulations and prohibitions, such as mandating the end of internal-combustion engines.

Not only is carbon pricing not sufficient. It also produces collateral damage. The impact of regressive price and tax increases on those at the bottom of the income distribution can be truly painful. That risks provoking a backlash and stiffening political resistance to decarbonisation, which we can ill afford.

In the urgent push for action we cannot however escape our history. Since the 1990s, carbon pricing has been at the core of European environmental policy. It retains committed elite support, including from influential voices in the German government, which will be directing European Union affairs for the next six months.

If set right, prices do have the attraction of providing a pervasive general incentive to cut back on what needs to be cut back—namely emissions. In this respect they are a useful complement to more targeted policies.

If a high-enough floor price is set, along with a credible commitment to future increases, this will sway investment decisions and fuel choices. The near-total displacement of coal in the mix of UK electricity generation is a case in point.

Emissions Trading System

In the late 1990s and early 2000s the EU went to the bother of building the Emissions Trading System. In light of experience, if we had our time over we might not do so again. But the whole point of the climate crisis is that we cannot have our time over: the clock is ticking fast.

Furthermore, the EU-ETS is working. This is surprising, not only because of the scheme’s checquered history but also because, on the face of it, conditions in 2020 could hardly be less propitious.

Thanks to the coronavirus-induced recession, energy demand has collapsed. There would be every reason, therefore, to expect the system to have been swamped by a surplus of emission allowances, whose prices we should expect to fall. But instead, after an initial downward blip, prices for European carbon allowances have recovered to near their pre-crisis level, at around €25 per tonne.

Combined with the collapse of natural-gas prices, we thus find ourselves at the fuel-switching point. At the current price for allowances and given the relative prices of gas and coal, the most efficient power plant burning coal cannot compete with the least efficient gas-fired plant. If sustained, this should spell the end for commercial coal-fired power in Europe. Gas is, at best, a transition fuel but ending coal would be a big win.

According to knowledgeable market participants, emission allowances are trading at such robust prices because market actors believe the EU’s commitment to rapid decarbonisation—as manifested in the European Green Deal—is genuine. This is hugely significant.

‘Minsky moments’

Markets are driven by narratives. Money is made by betting on good news or bad news, prices up or prices down. The crucial thing is to anticipate the direction of travel.

Generally, and for good reason, we assume that speculation driven by private profit will run counter to the intentions of progressive policy. In the modelling of climate ‘Minsky moments’, for instance, we imagine that private investors do not believe governments will stick to decarbonisation policies. It then makes commercial sense to continue to invest in oil, gas and coal, which, in turn, makes it harder to achieve decarbonisation.

It’s a vicious circle. Decarbonisation happens, just not as a smooth and efficient adjustment but in the form of crisis—the Minsky moment in which prices of fossil-fuel assets suddenly reset.

Yet imagine if the logic were reversed. Imagine if speculators persuaded themselves that the smart thing to do was to bet on the realisation of policy, thus hastening that outcome and making it easier for governments to stay the course. Remarkably, that is what seems to be happening in EU carbon markets.

According to insiders, the reason emissions certificates are trading at such high prices is that ‘the market now thinks that even the maximum level of fuel switching will no longer cut CO2 emissions enough for the EU’s longer-term targets to be met, and that prices will therefore have to go higher to incentivise reductions in the other sectors covered by the EU-ETS. Indeed, with the EU set to raise its 2030 emissions-reduction target by the end of this year to either 50 per cent or 55 per cent versus 1990 (compared with the current 40 per cent target), and with the scope of the scheme to be expanded over the next few years to include shipping, buildings and transport, there are good reasons to be bullish about further market tightening.’

Investors are not staking their fortunes on a failure of political will. They are betting that, faced with the inadequacy of current targets, politicians will double down and raise the ambition of decarbonisation. If politicians follow through on this logic, then emission allowances will become more valuable. Anyone buying them now will have a chance to sell them later at a profit. That anticipation is driving the price of allowances up—and putting coal plants out of business more quickly.

Impressive mobilisation

The analyst community—or at least its environmental, social and governance wing—has become convinced of the seriousness of the climate crisis. And, regardless of personal opinions, they are convinced the current generation of European leaders are committed to the cause. Backing up that political commitment is the force of public opinion and, in particular, the impressive mobilisation of young people which changed the conversation in Europe in 2018-19. Politicians who backslide on the Green Deal can expect to be punished at the polls.

The result is a virtuous circle. It is, in fact, the fantasy of good liberal governance, in which public and private action reinforce each other. That should be reason enough to be sceptical. But, given the urgency of the crisis, we cannot afford to look a gift horse in the mouth. If, for once, investors are betting that the political commitment to decarbonisation is genuine, there are significant and potentially long-term benefits in vindicating that belief, thus reinforcing confidence and building credibility.

It is a sign of the seriousness of our situation that betting on the climate crisis is no longer a matter for long-term speculation. Those holding the emission allowances expect to make money, not perhaps this year but in the foreseeable future. If markets are to play any part in decarbonisation, that expectation must be fulfilled. It is therefore crucial to ensure a Covid-19 recession does not bring on a sudden devaluation of allowances. This happened before—in 2005 and between 2009 and 2013—with discouraging effect.

In the wake of the last price collapse, in 2017 the EU considerably tightened the ETS and introduced the Market Stability Reserve. This mechanism, which came into effect in 2019, was a classic exercise in smokescreen politics. Though the professed goal of the MSR is to stabilise prices by mechanically withdrawing allowances from glutted markets, its true purpose is clearly to support a high and rising price for carbon over the long run. Crucially, the 2017 agreement included provision to begin cancelling surplus allowances accumulated by the MSR from 2023.

Welcome signal

It is that prospect to which markets are responding, gambling on the seriousness of political commitments. France and Germany sent a welcome signal in their joint initiative of May 18th for European recovery, in which they expressed their support for a floor price for carbon. When the MSR is reviewed in 2021 it could be updated to target explicitly a minimum price. Even more important, as a signal to voters and investors, would be a commitment to raise the ambition of decarbonisation well beyond the current target of 40 per cent by 2030 and to extend the drive to shipping, buildings and transport.

We know from bitter experience that the market-based ETS is not the universal, apolitical device for energy transformation it was once touted to be. It is a weak mechanism whose effectiveness depends on the political will to create scarcity and thus the conditions for meaningful carbon prices. Too often expectations have been disappointed and credibility has been undermined.

Currently, however, market participants are betting that the political will exists to push for deep decarbonisation. That is what a majority of Europeans—particularly young Europeans—want. With the right political leadership, there is an opportunity to turn the ETS from a neoliberal white elephant into an effective instrument of climate policy.

It is an opportunity Europe cannot afford to miss. The more loudly Europeans demand it, the better.

SOURCE

Adam Tooze is professor of history at Columbia University and author of Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World.

Energy companies abandon long-delayed Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Climate activist groups protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as oral arguments are heard in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline case in February. (Mark Wilson/AFP/Getty Images)

The two energy companies behind the controversial 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline on Sunday abandoned their six-year bid to build it, saying the project has become too costly and the regulatory environment too uncertain to justify further investment.

The natural-gas pipeline would have tunneled under the Appalachian Trail on its way from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina, building an energy infrastructure proponents said would attract economic development to the region.

The abrupt abandonment sparked jubilation among environmental and community groups who had fought the pipeline all along its path, which included some of the most scenic and rugged terrain in Virginia. Property rights advocates in the Appalachians joined with an ashram in central Virginia and black Baptists from a rural county to make opposing the pipeline a high-profile political and social justice issue.

“The courageous leadership of impacted community members who refused to bow in the face of overwhelming odds is an inspiration to all Americans,” former vice president Al Gore and the Rev. William Barber, a civil rights leader, said Sunday in a joint statement. They had visited Virginia together to shed light on the pipeline’s impact on rural African American communities.

Virginia-based Dominion Energy and North Carolina-based Duke Energy spent $3.4 billion on the project, fighting regulatory battles that went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled favorably for the companies last month.

But company officials said in a statement that other recent federal court rulings linked to the Keystone XL pipeline have heightened the litigation risk, extended the project’s timeline and further ballooned the cost of the project, which had risen from an estimated $5 billion in 2014 to $8 billion today. When announced, the energy companies had hoped to have the pipeline operational by 2018.

“This announcement reflects the increasing legal uncertainty that overhangs large-scale energy and industrial infrastructure development in the United States,” Dominion chief executive Thomas F. Farrell II and Duke Energy chief executive Lynn J. Good said in a joint statement. “Until these issues are resolved, the ability to satisfy the country’s energy needs will be significantly challenged.”

The decision to cancel the Atlantic Coast Pipeline came the same day Dominion announced it would sell its other natural gas pipelines and storage assets to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy for $10 billion, focusing exclusively on state-regulated natural gas utility markets and some renewable energy projects. The deal is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Dominion is arguably the most powerful corporation in Virginia, and its commitment to the pipeline made the company a political target in the past several years after a new generation of Democrats won control of the state legislature. Faced with leaders in the General Assembly who pledged to weaken Dominion’s influence in Richmond, the utility cooperated this year on legislation that requires it to phase out carbon-based energy by 2050.

Just last week, Dominion touted completion of the initial phase of a wind farm project it is developing 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach that is slated to be the biggest in the country.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said Sunday that he had spoken “with Dominion Energy leaders today and told them he supports this decision and the company’s transition to clean energy.”

In West Virginia, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) said in separate statements they were disappointed the companies chose to walk away from a critical infrastructure investment.

“The pipeline would have created good paying construction and manufacturing jobs for hard working West Virginians, reinvested in our energy markets increasing our domestic energy supply, and strengthened national security with reliable energy to key military installations,” said Manchin, the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The Virginia Chamber of Commerce also lamented losing the potential economic benefits of the pipeline, saying it was projected to support 8,800 jobs and $1.4 billion in economic activity in the state.

“Unfortunately, today’s announcement detrimentally impacts the Commonwealth’s access to affordable, reliable energy. It also demonstrates the significant regulatory burdens businesses must deal with in order to operate,” Virginia Chamber President Barry DuVal said in a statement.

Environmental advocates had stalled the project with court challenges in which judges found that the federal permitting process had been hasty and slipshod. With permits being reevaluated, work on the pipeline in Virginia has been paused for more than a year and a half.

“This is a victory for all the communities that were in the path of this risky and unnecessary project,” the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represented conservation groups in many of the court challenges, said in a statement.

“Finally, after causing so much pain and worry for so many, these companies have made a decision that is actually in the interest of their customers and the people their actions affect,” said David Sligh, a former Virginia environmental regulator who is conservation director of the advocacy group Wild Virginia.

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Big Oil confronts possibility of terminal demand decline

Oil

Owing to the coronavirus, in recent months the concept of peak demand for oil has come into vogue. (AFP)

PARIS, FRANCE — Although crude prices have rebounded from coronavirus crisis lows, oil execs and experts are starting to ask if the industry has crossed the rubicon of peak demand.

The plunge in the price of crude oil during the first wave of coronavirus lockdowns — futures prices briefly turned negative — was due to the drop in global demand as planes were parked on tarmacs and cars in garages.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecast that average daily oil demand will drop by eight million barrels per day this year, a decline of around eight percent from last year.

While the agency expects an unprecedented rebound of 5.7 million barrels per day next year, it still forecasts overall demand will be lower than in 2019 owing to ongoing uncertainty in the airline sector.

Some are questioning whether demand will ever get back to 2019 levels.

“I don’t think we know how this is going to play out. I certainly don’t know,” BP’s new chief executive Bernard Looney said in May.

The COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing then with most planes grounded and white-collar workers giving up the commute to work from home.

“Could it be peak oil? Possibly. I would not write that off,” Looney told the Financial Times.

SUMMITED?

The concept of peak oil has long generated speculation.

Mostly, it has been focused on peak production, with experts forecasting that prices would reach astronomical levels as recoverable oil in the ground runs out.

But in recent months, the concept of peak demand has come into vogue, with the coronavirus landing an uppercut into fuel demand for the transportation sector followed by a knock-out punch from the transition to cleaner fuels.

Michael Bradshaw, professor at Warwick Business School, said environmental groups are already lobbying to prevent the Paris agreements becoming another casualty of the pandemic, stressing the need for a Green New Deal for the recovery.

“If they are successful, demand for oil might never return to the peak we saw prior to COVID-19,” he said in comments to journalists.

The transport sector may never fully recover, Bradshaw posited.

“After the pandemic, we might have a different attitude to international air travel or physically going into work,” he said.

‘SCIENCE FICTION’

Other experts say we haven’t reached the tipping point yet, and might not for a while.

“Many people have said, including some CEOs of some major companies, with the lifestyle changes now to teleworking and others we may well see oil demand has peaked, and oil demand will go down,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol said recently.

“I don’t agree with that. Teleconferencing alone will not help us to reach our energy and climate goals, they can only make a small dent,” Firol added while unveiling a recent IEA report.

Moez Ajmi at consulting and auditing firm E&Y dismissed as “science fiction” the idea that a definitive drop in oil demand could suddenly emerge.

He expects a slow recovery in demand even if the coronavirus leaves the global economy weakened.

That weakness would also likely slow adoption of greener fuels.

“It will take time for fossil fuels, which today still account for some 80 percent of primary global consumption to face real competition” from rival energy sources, he said.

Meanwhile, the oil industry could face financing challenges.

Bronwen Tucker, an analyst at Oil Change International, says the industry is now under pressure from investors.

After “a pretty big wave of restrictions on coal and some restrictions on oil and gas, the risks to oil and gas investment right now feel a lot more salient,” she said.

The industry is already writing down the value of assets to face up to the new market reality of lower demand and prices.

Royal Dutch Shell said this past week that it will take a US$22 billion charge as it re-evaluates the value of its business in light of the coronavirus.

Last month, rival BP reduced the worth of its assets by US$17.5 billion.

“This process has further to run, and we expect further large impairments to occur across the sector,” said Angus Rodger of specialist energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

SOURCE