Electrek:

The House made no changes to the Senate bill, in order to avoid having to bring it to another Senate vote. If there were changes, the bill would have to go through a conference process between the two houses, and each house would have to vote again. Given how narrow the Senate vote was (51-50) and the fragility of the compromise, Democrats wanted to avoid any chance of the bill failing, so passed the bill as-is.

For EV fans, this means that the current version of the bill remains – complete with its confusing implementation of new EV tax credits. We broke that down in a post earlier this week, which you should read if you are considering buying an EV soon (we tried to include guidance for as many EVs/manufacturers as we could, so click through if you have questions about a specific automaker).

In short, EV buyers should consider signing a “binding purchase agreement” before Biden signs the bill if they want to lock in access to the “old” tax credit; that old credit will no longer be available on cars that were assembled outside North America as soon as the bill is signed. This is not as urgent of an issue for cars from manufacturers that won’t lose access to the “old” tax credit, but it’s still good to be aware of, given the battery sourcing guidelines which will be adopted later this year.

As long as a certain percentage (which raises over time) of a vehicle’s battery parts are sourced responsibly, that vehicle will qualify for credits. Guidelines about that portion of the bill will be developed by the Treasury and put into place some time before the end of this year.

One of President Biden’s priorities has been to revitalize American manufacturing, so the new EV tax credit focuses more on manufacturing than on stimulating EV demand. EV demand is very high right now (and for the foreseeable future), but manufacturing and supply have not been able to keep up with the public’s growing desire to own EVs. So a bill that targets supply, right now, should help the problem, though it will take some time to spin up the supply of minerals and batteries.

The new EV tax credit focuses mostly on onshoring EV manufacturing and diversifying supply chains to countries that the US has free trade agreements with. Currently, a large chunk of EV supply chains are concentrated in China, which the US does not have a free trade agreement with.

Unfortunately, these priorities mean that, despite many tax credit improvements (making it available upfront at the point of sale and on used vehicles, eliminating the 200k cap per manufacturer, etc), in the short term there has been a lot of confusion over which vehicles will qualify now, next week, in the coming months, and in the coming years. Hopefully things will settle down once the ink dries on the paper and the government releases a list of vehicles that qualify, but until then, we’ll try to keep you abreast of developments.

We don’t know yet exactly when Biden plans to sign this bill, but will update when we do.

Bloomberg Green:

The landmark US climate bill passed by the House of Representatives on Friday is a boon for would-be buyers of electric vehicles: It includes a $7,500 point-of-sale tax credit for any purchase of a qualifying new EV, and $4,000 off the purchase of a used one. But the bill doesn’t solve for one of the biggest challenges facing interested buyers: inventory. 

It’s terribly difficult to get a new electric car these days. In a recent survey of thousands of EV owners for Bloomberg Green’s Electric Car Ratings, respondents said they waited almost seven months, on average, for their battery-powered vehicle. In Australia, the delivery delay on a new Tesla is so long — up to nine months — that used models are selling for hefty premiums. And while the new US incentives are generous, they come with manufacturing limitations that will soon exempt many of the machines on offer, leading to a mad dash this week to make a qualifying purchase. 

But what if EV ownership was just a stopgap? What if you could simply subscribe to a car like a 5,000-pound magazine?

That’s the future being sold by Autonomy, a California-based startup that since January has been targeting a narrow niche on the EV ownership spectrum, somewhere between the Hertz rental counter and a three-year lease. “We exist to expand the adoption of electric vehicles,” reads Autonomy’s pitch, “and we don’t think you should be forced to accept expensive, long-term debt to drive one.”  

Autonomy is now stocking up on EVs from pretty much every company that makes them: This week, it announced plans to order nearly 23,000 cars from 17 automakers, including Ford, Polestar and Tesla. There are even 200 vehicles reserved from Canoo and Fisker, two companies on the not-quite-there side of actually making a drivable electric car.

The subscription model has some logic for consumers. In part because of fast-evolving technology, EVs have traditionally shed value much quicker than gas-powered cars. On a depreciation scale, consumers typically lump them in with cell phones. And while Autonomy’s offering sure looks like a lease — costs include a $5,900 “start fee,” then $490 to $690 a month for up to 1,000 miles of driving — customers can end the subscription any time after three months, and don’t have to pay maintenance, registration fees or interest. 

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Released 25 years ago this week.

Perfect Friday song, and great celebration for the passage of IRA.

If we’re going to get this transition done, we’re going to have to talk about NIMBYs. Yes, I’m looking at you “greens”. Wake the eff up. You’re being played.
Case in point, a recent voter referendum in Maine turned down a much needed corridor that would have supplied green energy to much of New England. It lost in part due to huge financial pressure from a dark money group funded by a utility. Much of the negative argument boils down to “not in my back yard” sentiments.

Get over it, people. We’re going to have to pull together if we’re going to land this plane.

Mainewire:

Maine’s Supreme Court is set to rule any day now on an appeal of the referendum that passed last year blocking the continued construction of the New England Clean Energy Connect Corridor–a transmission corridor that would connect 1,200 megawatts of clean energy onto our power grid in Lewiston. 

In the months since the referendum, it has been increasingly common to hear Mainers express a form of buyer’s remorse when they look at their energy bills and say, “I voted for that referendum but now I think I made a mistake.”

Not long after the referendum vote, we learned that the price most of us pay for power, what’s called the standard offer, was going up by 83%. The sting from that sharp price increase was made worse in the months that followed as we watched the cost of gas, home heating oil, and just about everything else spike as well. Had Mainers not voted against the power line, it would have put downward pressure on future regional energy prices, bringing down the cost of electricity for everyone in New England. That’s a deal we should have taken last fall.

Today, as the Court considers whether the referendum rests on sound legal principles or not, it’s worth remembering that the primary opponents of the referendum were the out-of-state fossil fuel interests who are now making a windfall profit from that 83% increase. Chief among them was NextEra Energy, which donated more than $20,000,000 to the referendum campaign opposing the power line. Those profits aren’t reinvested in consumer programs or the power grid and they are not used to help our state transition to clean energy like our regulated utility companies do. It’s pure profit for companies like NextEra.

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Vote coming soon

10 years ago we thought the arctic was warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Then we decided it was 3x.
Nope. Four times as fast.

Nature:

In recent decades, the warming in the Arctic has been much faster than in the rest of the world, a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification. Numerous studies report that the Arctic is warming either twice, more than twice, or even three times as fast as the globe on average. Here we show, by using several observational datasets which cover the Arctic region, that during the last 43 years the Arctic has been warming nearly four times faster than the globe, which is a higher ratio than generally reported in literature. We compared the observed Arctic amplification ratio with the ratio simulated by state-of-the-art climate models, and found that the observed four-fold warming ratio over 1979–2021 is an extremely rare occasion in the climate model simulations. The observed and simulated amplification ratios are more consistent with each other if calculated over a longer period; however the comparison is obscured by observational uncertainties before 1979. Our results indicate that the recent four-fold Arctic warming ratio is either an extremely unlikely event, or the climate models systematically tend to underestimate the amplification.

New York Times:

The rapid warming of the Arctic, a definitive sign of climate change, is occurring even faster than previously described, researchers in Finland said Thursday.

Over the past four decades the region has been heating up four times faster than the global average, not the two to three times that has commonly been reported. And some parts of the region, notably the Barents Sea north of Norway and Russia, are warming up to seven times faster, they said.

One result of rapid Arctic warming is faster melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which adds to sea-level rise. But the impacts extend far beyond the Arctic, reaching down to influence weather like extreme rainfall and heat waves in North America and elsewhere. By altering the temperature difference between the North Pole and the Equator, the warming Arctic appears to have affected storm tracks and wind speed in North America.

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The irresponsible sourcing of rare-earth and other minerals has been used as a cudgel against the energy transition. But the fact is, these minerals have been critical components of a whole host of non-clean technologies for a long time. For instance, cobalt, in addition to being used in lithium ion batteries, has long been a key ingredient for desulfurization of gasoline.

So it’s not about whether we are going to use more rare earths – we are going to. But pushing companies to pay attention to sourcing is going to be critical.
Where we can, finding substitutes is a great idea too, and is being done. One example would be how battery manufacturers are moving away from lithium ion and towards lithium iron phosphate batteries, which do not use cobalt and nickel, two increasingly problematic and expensive minerals.

Don’t underestimate the potential for more of this substitution as more engineers get pulled into this space.

Electrek:

Tesla confirmed that nearly half of all its vehicles produced last quarter are already using cobalt-free iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries.

The information also gives us an interesting insight into Tesla’s mix of models, which is generally quite opaque.

Over the last few years, CEO Elon Musk has said multiple times that Tesla plans to shift more electric cars to LFP batteries in order to overcome nickel and cobalt supply concerns.

Iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, which don’t use nickel or cobalt, are traditionally cheaper and safer, but they offer less energy density, which means less efficient and shorter range for electric vehicles.

However, they have improved enough recently that it now makes sense to use cobalt-free batteries in lower-end and shorter-range vehicles.

It also frees up the production of battery cells with other, more energy-dense chemistries to produce more longer-range vehicles.

Tesla already moved its Standard Range Model 3 and Model Y produced in China to LFP cells.

Below, video describes Ford’s transition to LFP batteries.

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Bang, Whimper, etc.

Reuters:

Florida’s sea turtles are grappling with a gender imbalance made worse by climate change. Recent heat waves have caused the sand on some beaches to get so hot that nearly every turtle born was female.

“The frightening thing is the last four summers in Florida have been the hottest summers on record,” said Bette Zirkelbach, manager of the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, a city in the Florida Keys, a string of tropical islands stretching from the southern end of the state.

“Scientists that are studying sea turtle hatchlings and eggs have found no boy sea turtles, so only female sea turtles for the past four years,” Zirkelbach said, whose turtle center has operated since 1986.

When a female turtle digs a nest on a beach, the temperature of the sand determines the gender of the hatchlings. Zirkelbach said an Australian study showed similar statistics – “99% of new sea turtle babies are female.”

Instead of determining sex during fertilization, the sex of sea turtles and alligators depends on the temperature of developing eggs, according to the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

If a turtle’s eggs incubate below 81.86 Fahrenheit (27.7 Celsius), the turtle hatchlings will be male, whereas if they incubate above 88.8 F (31C), they will be female, according to NOAA’S National Ocean Service website.

“Over the years, you’re going to see a sharp decline in their population because we just don’t have the genetic diversity,” said Melissa Rosales Rodriguez, a sea turtle keeper at the recently opened a turtle hospital at the Miami Zoo. “We don’t have the male-to-female ratio needed in order to be able to have successful breeding sessions.”

The two turtle hospitals are also battling tumors in turtles known as fibropapillomatosis, also known as FP. These tumors are contagious to other turtles and can cause death if not treated.

With climate affecting the future of turtles and the disease being so widespread, Zirkelbach sees the need to save every turtle she can and open more rehab centers.

“The Turtle Hospital was the first. But, sadly and fortunately, there’s a need all throughout Florida.”

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Let’s unlock a gigantic potential resource.

Cleveland.com:

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a state permit to construct the first freshwater, offshore wind turbine facility in North America was appropriately granted for the Icebreaker project in Lake Erie.

The Icebreaker project proposes to build six turbines eight to 10 miles off the Lake Erie coast, near Cleveland. The demonstration project would generate 20.7 megawatts of electricity, with a potential to expand if successful.

At issue before the court was whether the Ohio Power Siting Board followed the law in granting the permit.

Ohio Justice Jennifer Brunner wrote the majority opinion. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Patrick F. Fischer, R. Patrick DeWine, Michael P. Donnelly and Melody Stewart joined her opinion.

Justice Sharon Kennedy dissented.

Brunner, a Democrat, and Kennedy, a Republican, are running for Ohio Supreme Court chief justice in this November’s election. O’Connor is retiring due to age limits in the judiciary.

With the Ohio Supreme Court approval, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., which is called LEEDCo and is developing the project, has additional security to market the power to potential customers, the company said in a statement Wednesday, shortly after the Supreme Court decision was released.

A third of the power is under contract with the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. LEEDCo can now focus on marketing the remaining two-thirds.

There isn’t yet a date for when construction will start, as LEEDCo was waiting on the court, said Will Friedman, president and CEO of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority.