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An employee with Ipsun Solar installs solar panels on the roof of the Peace Lutheran Church in Alexandria, Virginia on May 17, 2021.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

Ramping up investment in policies and technologies to tackle climate change could play a significant role in the global economy’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

In a recent note, Charles Dumas, chief economist at U.K.-based investment research firm TS Lombard, said that action on climate change is often criticized as moving too slowly. However, with governments increasing spending to aid their post-Covid economies, they may start catching up. 

A key tenet of this is the ever-decreasing cost of electricity per megawatt hour, according to figures from TS Lombard, with costs of solar, offshore and onshore wind dropping over the last 10 years, while gas and coal have remained largely the same.

“Effectively by 2030 the cost of renewable electricity is going to be half that of coal and gas sourced electricity,” Dumas told CNBC.

These trends will bring many of the various pledges to reach net zero more closely in sight.

The fatal floods in Germany in recent weeks have put the impacts of climate change firmly in the spotlight again but they are only the latest in a series of devastating extreme weather events of late, including the sprawling wildfires in Oregon.

COP26 priorities

Amid this backdrop, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, better known as COP26, will meet in Glasgow in November. It will mark one of the most significant multilateral meetings on climate since the Paris agreement.

Dumas said that as COP26 approaches, governments need to understand their key priorities, and among them should be infrastructure investments as numerous technological and engineering challenges continue to obstruct renewable energy.

“I think the intermittency problem is pretty serious and it’s not just that the sun goes down at night,” Dumas said.

In the case of solar power, output can be mixed depending on the location of infrastructure like solar farms.

“There’s huge variation with sunny days in winter and sunny days in the middle of summer so the intermittency takes on a very big seasonal aspect,” Dumas said.

“You can have vicious weather for a long time in the middle of December or January and lo and behold you wouldn’t want to be depending on solar power.”

Energy transmission could be another bottleneck, he said. While the developing world, including several African nations, has great potential in developing sites for generating solar power, that power needs to move easily.

“The issue of transmission technology is really major. If you want Chad to be the new Saudi Arabia, because of the Sahara Desert there’s a lot of sun there, but you want the electricity to be used in Europe then you’re talking about some expensive processes and processes needing a lot of research and a lot of further investment.”

Storage and carbon capture are all areas that require hefty investment, Dumas added, if governments are to reach their net-zero targets.

“What we need is a very clear public policy lead in order to get anywhere near these net zero promises and I suspect that actually what it’s going to be about is a carbon tax, which the Americans may resist but will be necessary,” he said.

Job creation

Paul Steele, chief economist at an independent policy research institute called the International Institute for Environment and Development, said that climate action and renewable energy investments will serve the dual purpose of tackling the climate crisis while creating jobs for the post-Covid economy.

“One of the priorities coming out of Covid is to create labor intensive employment. Both in developed and developing countries, you can provide labor intensive employment through renewable energy,” Steele said.

One example, he said, was the retrofitting of boilers in homes in the U.K., which would help push the country toward its climate targets and create new jobs while being relatively inexpensive in the grand scheme of things.

Steele said that investments to drive a climate-friendly economy cannot be short term or have quick goals.

He pointed to the various government support schemes for the airline industry, which has been battered by the pandemic. Just this week, the European courts gave the nod to a $2.9 billion bailout for Air France-KLM’s Dutch business.

Bailout funds like these should be tied to sustainability commitments by the airline industry, he said, but that can be a dicey proposition to get over the line.

“Governments aren’t making the connections enough and traditionally treasuries and particularly the ministries of transport are still dominated by road building lobbies and people who like to build highways and increase transport rather than people who want to invest in sustainable alternatives.” 

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Battery powered trailer boost range, efficiency — now for $120,000 less

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Battery powered trailer boost range, efficiency — now for 0,000 less

The RA electric trailer from Range Energy promises to turn your diesel truck into a hybrid or extend the range of your electric semi – and now it qualifies for a $120,000 voucher in California.

California’s Clean Off-Road Equipment (CORE) Voucher Project aims to make it easier for commercial fleets to decarbonize. Last July, Range became the first trailer electrification platform to be accepted into CORE with an $80,000 rebate.

This year, Range Energy bumped its largest battery offering to 300 kWh. The state, in turn, showed its confidence in the electric trailer concept by bumping that rebate a full 50%.

“Becoming eligible for CORE proved that trailers truly matter in the transition to electric, and that CARB recognizes the meaningful impact electric-powered trailers can have on reducing the emissions of the commercial trucking sector,” said Ali Javidan, founder and CEO of Range. “Increasing our trailer platform’s incentive value by $40,000 further solidifies that position and makes Range a realistic near-term solution for fleet owners and operators.”

The company claims the Range Energy electric trailers can double a trucks’ fuel economy and slash its NOx emissions by as much as 67%. When we last covered Range, its electric trailer system had just undergone independent testing that found a 36% real-world improvement on a 25-mile urban/high loop at 60 mph top speeds with a 59,000 lb. gross vehicle weight (well below the 80,000 lb. maximum).

Electrek’s Take

Image via Range Energy.

It’s great to see concepts like this electric trailer come into play with some government dollars behind them. If they work (and if their weight penalties don’t hurt shippers’ profit margins), they’ll make it real easy for truck fleets to dip their toes into the waters of electrification while hydrogen and batteries battle it out for ultimate supremacy.

I’m betting batteries, for what it’s worth – but Range Energy customers will be able to put their electric trailers to work behind either!

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Quick Charge Podcast: February 26, 2024

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Quick Charge Podcast: February 26, 2024

Listen to a recap of the top stories of the day from Electrek. Quick Charge is available now on Apple PodcastsSpotifyTuneIn and our RSS feed for Overcast and other podcast players.

New episodes of Quick Charge are recorded Monday through Thursday and again on Saturday. Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcast or your favorite podcast player to guarantee new episodes are delivered as soon as they’re available.

Stories we discuss in this episode (with links):

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Drop us a line at tips@electrek.co. You can also rate us in Apple Podcasts or recommend us in Overcast to help more people discover the show!

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You won’t believe who bought almost $1 million worth of Tesla Roadsters

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You won't believe who bought almost  million worth of Tesla Roadsters

In a surprising turn of events, we now learn that billionaire Dan O’Dowd bought the 3 Tesla Roadsters that were lost in a Chinese port for over a decade.

Last year, we reported on a strange story of three brand-new Tesla Roadsters that were found inside a shipping container in China.

It appears that a Chinese company bought the Roadster back in 2011 with the hope of reverse-engineering them. However, the shipment was blocked by customs in China and the vehicles never made it to the company.

Last year, someone finally was able to get them and ship them to the US.

Tesla ever only produced just over 2,000 original Roadsters between 2008 and 2011, making them rare in the first place.

On top of the usual unit you lose to accidents and time, Roadsters had a few bad luck incidents, including losing dozens of units to two separate fires at Gruber Motors, which specializes in fixing first-generation Tesla Roadsters.

It makes the remaining ones more valuable, and ironically, Gruber was leading the auction for the lost Roadsters.

At one point, the company claimed that the three Roadsters together would go for over $1 million.

Almost a year later, we now know who bought them.

Dan of the popular YouTube channel What’s Inside got an exclusive look at the Roadsters – giving us a great look at this little piece of EV history:

Dan revealed Dan O’Dowd, the billionaire founder of Green Hills Software, is the new owner of the Roadster.

To Tesla fans, O’Dowd is better known as the guy running the Dawn Project, which is basically a campaign against Tesla’s Full Self-Driving effort.

It could be surprising, considering how consistently O’Dowd has been attacking Tesla and Elon Musk, but he is apparently a fan of Tesla vehicles other than its Autopilot and FSD Beta, which the Roadster is not equipped with anyway.

He already owns a couple of Roadsters, according to What’s Inside’s video.

Now, if you are familiar with What’s Inside, you know that they tend to cut through things to find out what’s inside them, but obviously, Dan won’t be doing that with these Roadsters. The video is still a great look at what could be some of the best-preserved Roadsters on the planet.

Also, we now learn how much O’Dowd paid for the Roadsters.

Carl Medlock of Medlock and Sons, an independent Tesla repair shop, helped O’Dowd in the purchase and confirmed that the billionaire paid $800,000 for the three Roadsters.

That’s well below the up to $2 million offers that Gruber teased. In fact, Medlock claims that the only other big serious offer was for $500,000.

Regardless, at an average of over $250,000 per Roadster, it makes them some of the most valuable Roadsters to date.

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