Excellent clean energy and climate outcomes require deeper information

Humanity’s most complex hydrogen-based scientific program is 50 percent complete. ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is basically ‘star-powered’ electricity, a.k.a. nuclear fusion… or nuclear power without uranium and plutonium waste. Students, decision makers, and others confronting climate change should be aware of ITER and other current and emerging solutions available to the United States and globe.

Terms like ‘climate mobilization’ includes how to sufficiently reverse global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, especially airborne carbon, on time. Going deep also means understanding sustainability economics for the nation. Attempting to mitigate the worst effects of human-caused climate change requires a risk evaluation matrix and relevant investments. If time and resources are used well, future generations will see the payoff earlier.

Concerning transportation GHGs an accurate analysis of the GHGs coming from the millions of annual tourist car trips to Asheville is needed. Then there are all those trucks.

Diesel trucks traveling I-40 and I-26 along with short local commercial trips contribute significantly to the total Asheville and Buncombe transportation GHG number. What to do? Climate protection and reliable transportation answers include fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Fuel cells exploit the natural hydrogen-oxygen bond of water to make electricity… with water as the only exhaust. Tesla’s proposed “Semi” battery only truck has a hydrogen fuel cell competitor. Ironically it’s called the Nikola One. Toyota, the globe’s largest vehicle manufacturer, offers FCEVs and at least ten other companies offer FCEVs or will soon.

Including personal vehicles and buses, why should North Carolina deny the option of longer range FCEVs… all travelling alongside battery only electric vehicles? Who decides whether we can drive either type of zero emission vehicle?

Those are sample CleanTech transportation sector questions and solutions. What about reliably turning on the lights across North Carolina, while doing the maximum to protect the climate today and over coming decades?

Grid fuel cells are cutting GHGs in North Carolina now, but Duke Energy pretends they are not an option… despite Duke Energy and the NC Utilities Commission approving the Apple data center in Maiden, NC five years ago… that today is partially powered by a fuel cell-biogas-solar system.

Fuel cells are just one step to going deeper and bigger with CleanTech innovation. But what else is there to understand and act on?

One inexpensive but important, immediate activity is citizens commenting on the EPA Clean Power Plan (CPP) between now and January 16. I suggest journalists share details on how to comment and follow-up on citizen feedback.

To inform EPA comments, please keep in mind the pre-Trump CPP left a lot of carbon reduction solutions off the table. Except for the Obama White House plan US Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization (MCS) few nations prescribe how to sufficiently curb GHGs for the 2015 Paris climate treaty. And the MCS is only a general overview document as to technologies and techniques.

Obviously the Trump Administration is not leveraging the MCS and the following additional CleanTech strategy baselines needed right now. Thankfully our communities and states are not giving up. While more public details are needed, North Carolina became a US Climate Alliance state in 2017. With the 2018 elections and more legislators practicing responsible innovation and understanding these baselines and consistently improving the MCS, our state and nation can pull off the necessary great CleanTech wave:
Quadrennial Energy Review, US Department of Energy

Quadrennial Technology Review, including technology assessments and supplemental information chapters, US Department of Energy

– National Association of Clean Air Agencies recommendations for implementing the EPA Clean Power Plan

General Electric’s grid power division that makes nuclear plant equipment and the kind of new natural gas powered electricity generators headed to Asheville recently announced major layoffs. While renewable energy expansion is listed as a reason for the GE downshift, the scope of climate risk and the energy consumption challenge needs more than the “100 percent renewables only” message. North Carolina’s solar results are transformative, but renewables are just one element.

In 2015 a meeting on the NC CPP was held at NC State University. I am unaware of any news reports on this event but I shared the one known public notice with Citizen-Times. Folks interested in responsible energy use deserve to know what’s happening on these matters now. It’s not all bad news.

Obtaining desirable climate and energy reliability outcomes we all want is not simple or easy… and the deadline for action coincides with the 2018 and 2020 elections.

Grant Millin is the Sustain NC developer and lives in Asheville.


Posted in Asheville, Climate Change Innovation, FCH2, Innovation and Opportunity Ecosystem, NC Clean Power Plan, Open Strategic Innovation for Communities.


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