Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, speaks as Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, right, listens during a news conference announcing Green New Deal legislation in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. A sweeping package of climate-change measures unveiled Thursday by Ocasio-Cortez drew a tepid response from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who didn’t explicitly throw her support behind the measure. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg© 2019 BLOOMBERG FINANCE LP
The rollout of the Green New Deal will hit some roadblocks. But its overarching theme is that the nation should go totally green by 2030 to avert the irreversible effects of climate change. It’s the latest volley in the war of energy ideas — one that must ultimately address jobs, the economy and cost.
The Green New Deal is not an “abstract” idea. Globally economies are trending toward cleaner energies — efforts initiated by public demands, improved technologies and forward-thinking policies: The sponsors are compelled to accelerate the pace — to not just help impoverished communities but to also prevent environmental catastrophe.
Think this wild-eyed? Think again. Wind costs have fallen by 67% since 2009 while utility-scale solar has dropped by 86% since that time, according to the financial adviser, Lazard. Prudence has been a virtue. But what green energy skeptics have learned is that the public incentives and the overall economics are adding up — progress that will only go forward, given that prices continue to fall while the quality continues to improve.
Getting to 100% renewable energy levels is a hard task under the best of circumstances. Step one, though, is to bring down the cost of energy storage. Once advanced batteries can be produced in sufficient quantities, the cost of manufacturing them will fall. Prices, in fact, are dropping because companies like Tesla Inc. have been investing billions into production facilities.
Just a few days after Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) posted its second consecutive profitable quarter, the company has stated that it plans to acquire energy technology firm Maxwell Technologies, a California-based maker of ultracapacitors and batteries.
“We are always looking for potential acquisitions that make sense for the business and support Tesla’s mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
Maxwell Technologies specializes in the development of ultracapacitors. Prior to its acquisition by Tesla, Maxwell had been working on developing dry electrode technologies that could be utilized to create ultracapacitors that can store large amounts of electrical charge without losing energy — a breakthrough for electric cars and energy storage devices. Ultracapacitors are lauded by several industry watchers as a possible alternative to today’s batteries, considering their potential to be safer and more reliable technologies.
A GM assembly plant slated to close in Oshawa, Ont. could be repurposed, some analysts say. Photo from GM website
GM’s announcement that it will halt production at its award-winning assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont. was hardly a surprise, though it still managed to stun the federal and Ontario governments. This was not the first time large-scale layoffs affected the GM workforce in Oshawa. Many former workers have completely dropped out of the labour market while others have re-entered the workforce in lower paying, less standardized or non-unionized service sector jobs after the retraining programs promised to them proved insufficient and underfunded.
Some felt betrayed by a company that had received generous assistance from the Canadian government in the past. Many observers saw it as an inevitable, if painful, symptom of a long-term process of industrial decay linked to impersonal corporate strategies. Others viewed GM’s decision as a function of high energy costs, imminent carbon taxes and other oppressive corporate regulations and used the closure to extol the trickle down economic logic of low taxes, deregulation and privatization that has led to repeated financial catastrophes and growing inequality.
“These are assets to be built on, not relics of a forgotten past to be purged, @UOIT profs write. #GM #Oshawa #GreenNewDeal #Canada @pstoett
Another perspective views the closure as an opportunity to explore, in earnest, new alternatives.
The plant could be refurbished to attract investment from Tesla or other companies engaged in producing less environmentally harmful automobiles. (Ironically, GM’s desire to pursue electric vehicle production was one of the reasons it gave for the closure in the first place, but apparently it did not feel Oshawa was the right location for this transition.) MORE