July 28, 2022
Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
A very happy Thursday, friends. Your Protocol Climate team learned a valuable lesson yesterday: Don’t finish your newsletter before 5 p.m. EDT. Today, we’re taking a deep dive into — what else — Senate Democrats’ big climate deal. We’re also looking at battery swapping’s future in the EV landscape. Saddle up your horse, and let’s hit the trail!
Sen. Joe Manchin said he couldn’t vote to pass the Build Back Better Act’s climate provisions because they could inflame inflation. Well, well, well. What a difference 186 years makes. Sorry, what’s that? It’s only been two weeks?
Ah. Well, anyway, turns out Manchin is OK voting for some of those provisions. He and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced late Wednesday they’d reached an agreement on a bill that includes $369 billion for climate and energy programs — just please don’t call it Build Back Better.
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is a clean tech Swiss Army knife. The legislation may have less overall cash for climate provisions than previous iterations of the Build Back Better Act (and that’s too bad, to be sure!). But it does spread the money that is there around to multiple facets of the clean tech industry. Let’s consider our Swiss Army knife components.
All that makes the act “transformative,” Stokes said. After Manchin effectively killed Build Back Better, many environmental groups advocated for President Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency and use the weight of the executive branch to decarbonize the country. But we’re in a whole different world now.
The tech industry could benefit from the act. We’ve talked a lot about the clean tech industry, but this is a huge boon to the industry writ large. Tech companies have made some pretty ambitious promises in their climate plans, and the act will make it that much easier to deliver on them.
All this comes with the caveats that the recently released full text is 725 pages, so it will take a while to digest in full, and there are definitely a few fossil fuel giveaways. Billy Fleming, the director of Penn's McHarg Center, aIS that the bill's fossil fuel and renewable leasing provisions "all but ensures a growth in carbon emissions." Democrats also need the Senate parliamentarian to declare it reconciliation-ready (which seems likely) and then, you know, actually pass it.
The Biden administration is gearing up to dole out funds for electric vehicle charging stations around the U.S. But there’s an alternative option: Instead of plugging in an EV to charge a battery, drivers could just toss a fresh one in.
Battery swapping has gained a toehold in China thanks to the car company Nio, and a few startups in the U.S. are vying to take it mainstream. But there are a few, uh, roadblocks on the battery-swap highway.
There’s the battery-swapping dream … A recent report from Straits Research painted a fairly optimistic picture of the potential U.S. market. The researchers’ evaluation found that the U.S. market was valued at $15 million in 2021, but could grow to as much as $138 million by 2030. Not bad!
… and then there’s the battery-swapping reality. Not to slow the battery-swap roll, but about those roadblocks.
Still, battery-swapping could have a place in the electrified transit future. Both Tal and Dave Mullaney, a principal on the carbon-free mobility team at the think tank RMI, said there are a few specific uses where battery swapping makes sense.
The emissions that make up a full greenhouse gas footprint can emanate from outside the four walls of your own manufacturing operations, like in the case of PepsiCo, where 93% of emissions come from its value chain.
Energy Exploration Technologies, aka EnergyX, is working on ways to improve lithium extraction through a process it dubs “brine-to-battery.” This week, it nabbed a $450 million investment from Global Emerging Markets.
Arable, a platform for sustainable agriculture data and intelligence, raised $40 million in series C financing, led by Galvanize Climate Solutions. Galvanize is Tom Steyer and Katie Hall’s new platform, and Arable marks its first investment.
Air conditioning is a huge problem for the climate. Startup Blue Frontier is looking to change that, and it just raked in $20 million in funding, led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
Sustainability software company Altruistiqraised nearly $18 million in seed funding, led by Molten.
Sodium-ion battery maker Natron Energyreceived a $7 million investment from the energy technology company Nabors. The startup promises that its tech will pack more power into a smaller and longer-lasting battery.
Tech workers are quitting their jobs to save the climate. Comp packages increasingly aren’t as important as finding meaningful work (along with the whole preserving-a-habitable-planet-for-future-generations thing).
Net zero air travel isn’t so, well, net zero. New research shows that jets’ carbon pollution is only a small portion of how air travel warms the planet. Someone show this research to policymakers or, failing that, Kylie Jenner at least.
The EV supplier deals just keep coming. In an echo of Ford’s announcement last week, GM said it has all the raw materials required to build 1 million EVs by the end of 2025.
Clean energy installation is trending in the wrong direction. Wind and solar projects are down 55% year-over-year due to Sen. Joe Manchin blocking the Build Back Better Act’s climate incentives and other policy uncertainties. Will the Inflation Reduction Act change the trend? We’ll see!
Florida’s biggest utility paid for good press — and it got it. Documents revealed in a major investigation by the Orlando Sentinel and Floodlight and a follow-up investigation by the Miami Herald show how Florida Power & Light allied with a right-wing outlet to influence policy and go after perceived enemies.
You can get insured for heat stroke. The new policies being offered in Japan show how climate change is spurring unexpected innovations in markets. Now to apply that same level of energy and innovation to decarbonization.
Asking suppliers and associated companies to overhaul the way they work is no small feat, but PepsiCo is taking a three-pronged approach centered around the principles of educating, enabling and incentivizing. The Sustainability Action Center aims to engage and equip value chain partners with tools to undergo their own sustainability journey.
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