June 14, 2022
Photo: Ralph Freso/Getty Images
Good morning. The dog days of summer are setting in. Your Protocol Climate team is here today to share how to stay cool and why heat pumps are a technology ripe for innovation despite their basement-dwelling nature. We’re also looking at a potential EV inflection point and the moral case for nuclear fusion. Come chill with us.
If you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans who suffered through a blistering, record-breaking weekend of heat, I feel your pain. Hot weather just isn’t my thing.
As climate change makes heat increasingly common and intense, more people are looking at how to cool their homes. And a number are turning to the poorly named but nevertheless magical heat pump, an electric method for heating and cooling buildings that can take the place of both conventional AC and fossil-fuel heating. Policies are lining up to help the nation make that transition, which could save an estimated 142 million metric tons of carbon pollution annually, but that shouldn’t stop the tech industry from playing a major role in making heat pumps mainstream.
Joe Biden wants you to get a heat pump. The president used the Defense Production Act to compel companies to speed up heat pump production, though there’s not much cash behind the effort (yet).
There are still hurdles to heat pump dominance. We need more than Joe Biden guaranteeing orders for them. There’s a Senate bill that would encourage electrifying HVAC (that’s unlikely to garner Republican support needed to overcome the filibuster), but even that isn’t enough.
Heat pumps themselves are ripe for innovation. Thomas said they’ve been overlooked as an entrepreneurial opportunity. “The amount of old-school business thinking and inefficient business practices and technology that has all sorts of opportunities for improvement in the space is just huge,” he said.
While Silicon Valley is putting a lot of effort into carbon dioxide removal, EVs and other, splashier technology, it may just be time to consider the heat pump.— Brian Kahn (email | twitter)
The view from 2022 isn’t so bad, at least when it comes to electric vehicle sales projections. While EVs alone won’t save us (Hello, have you met my good friends bikes and public transit?), replacing the gasoline- and diesel-powered cars on the market with their zero-emissions counterparts will take a big bite out of transportation emissions. And on that front, there’s some good news.
EV adoption might be even faster than previously expected. At least, according to a new analysis from the consultancy BCG.
The U.S. is expected to see even more rapid EV adoption. While BEVs only made up 3% of the country’s new light vehicle sales in 2021, President Joe Biden has set a goal that half of all new vehicle sales will be electric by 2030.
Regulators are driving the rosy outlook. Yes, that’s a car pun. And yes, it’s also true.
But there are some caveats. Not only will the rest of the world likely progress much more slowly than the U.S., EU and China, but also — and stop me if you’ve heard this one before — supply chain hiccups are leading to some uncertainty. EV adoption can only progress as fast as the vehicles can make it off the factory floor.— Lisa Martine Jenkins (email | twitter)
The idea that politicians could restrict cost-effective online advertising and marketing is daunting. These laws could potentially cripple the way small companies like ours do business in this ever-evolving digital age.
Michl Binderbauer has made an audacious promise. Within the next decade, his company, TAE Technologies, will create a nuclear fusion reactor that delivers energy to the power grid.
“It's not false confidence,” said Binderbauer, the CEO of TAE. “The building blocks we need — they’re coming.”
Nuclear fusion is the process that makes the sun shine. At temperatures higher than 25 million degrees Fahrenheit, our star mashes together hydrogen atoms to form helium to generate energy.
After decades of research and tests, Binderbauer said that fusion power is about to truly come of age. Investors seem convinced, too.
To find out why Binderbauer sees his work on fusion as a “moral obligation,” and what the future could hold, read our full feature.— Sophia Chen (twitter)
Gina McCarthy told tech platforms to get their act together. New forms of climate misinformation have found a home online, and the White House climate adviser urged tech companies to crack down.
A $7.5 billion down payment on the climate is what the Biden administration’s EV charging investment amounts to. Good, but we’re going to need so much more money to get the U.S. the speedy, standardized charging network it deserves.
“Major credibility gaps” haunt corporate plans to cut emissions, according to the annual report from Net Zero Tracker.
What’s the future of carbon capture and storage? The Department of Energy’s Jennifer Wilcox thinks it could be decarbonizing cement, steel and even paper. (Yes, paper.)
Electric Last Mile Solutions is taking its last breath. The EV startup will liquidate its operations roughly a year after going public via SPAC.
Big Tech is fighting Warren Buffett over wind turbines. The showdown is unfolding over a Buffett-backed proposal to build a nearly $4 billion wind farm in Iowa, which Google, Facebook and Microsoft are saying is not in customers’ best interest.
Congrats to the Texas grid. It survived a scorching heat wave and record power demand.
— Lisa Martine Jenkins
Internet advertising has enabled us to grow our business to what it is today, but proposed regulations limiting advertisers’ ability to reach target audiences would hurt media publishers like us.
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