Regulation, Solar, Sourcing Renewables, Wind - March 6, 2021
Weekend reads: Discovering Amazon's EV company; The woman at the helm of Biden's climate plan
It's the weekend! Kick back and catch up with these must-read articles from around the web.
What to know about Rivian, the Amazon-backed EV startup that could be the next Tesla (Insider) Electric-vehicle startup Rivian may go public as soon as September at a $50 billion valuation that could make it more valuable than Ford, Bloomberg reported earlier this month. And while that valuation would certainly be high for any newly listed company — it's 35 times what Tesla was worth at its 2010 IPO — Rivian has plenty going for it that other aspiring Tesla rivals don't. With billions in backing from high-profile investors, a manufacturing plant already up and running, commercial and consumer EVs on the way, and future models in the works, Rivian has emerged as one of the most promising challengers to Tesla that's not a legacy car brand.
The Fauci of climate change? Gina McCarthy is in charge of Biden’s massive climate agenda. (Vox) New White House National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy has never been one to worry about what she can’t control. In 2017, McCarthy watched as the Trump administration moved to dismantle her signature work as Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency administrator, the Clean Power Plan. Even though glaciers were melting faster than scientists anticipated, oceans were warming at an alarming rate, and the United States was getting hammered by deadly hurricanes and wildfires, Trump was doing the opposite of fixing the problem. He pulled out of the Paris climate agreement, slashed environmental regulations, and installed fossil fuel lobbyists in top environmental posts. All of this was devastating for many climate experts. But McCarthy wasn’t demoralized. “If you can’t do something about this shit, then stop worrying about it! Let’s just do what we can do!” a characteristically blunt McCarthy told HBO host Bill Maher in 2019 in her Boston accent.
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With Solar Power, Ikea Breathes New Life into Brick-and-Mortar Retail (Triple Pundit) The rise of e-commerce has spelled doom for a growing number of brick-and-mortar retail outlets, and that can have an impact on local communities by cutting off opportunities for employment, career development, and civic engagement. Fortunately, some strategies are emerging that can help stem the tide. Among them are such clean technologies as solar power, an area in which Ikea has staked out an effective model to follow. Last August, Aaron Cheris and Marc-André Kamel of the firm Bain & Company presented a detailed analysis in which they described how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the decline of brick-and-mortar retail, while also taking note of emerging strategies for sustaining operations. However, they also make the case that the pandemic has heightened consumer appreciation for in-store experiences related to community, convenience, trust and empathy. As a second strategy, they suggest that retailers update the in-store experience to deploy new technologies that echo the conveniences of e-commerce.
Wyoming Coal Country Pivots, Reluctantly, to Wind Farms (New York Times) The coal layered underground helped bring settlers to this scrubby, wind-whipped part of southern Wyoming, where generations found a steady paycheck in the mines and took pride in powering the nation. But now, it is energy from the region’s other abundant energy resource — the wind itself — that is creating jobs and much-needed tax revenues in Carbon County. Despite its historic ties to coal, as well as local denialism about climate change, the county is soon to be home to one of the biggest wind farms in the nation.
Energy company to breed endangered California condors to replace birds killed by turbine blades (Los Angeles Times) They are among the top goals of California environmentalists: preserving endangered species and replacing fossil fuels with clean energy. Yet in the blustery skies above Kern County’s Tehachapi Mountains — where towering wind turbines churn with hypnotic rhythm — renewable energy and wildlife preservation appear to be headed for a disastrous collision. After a decades-long effort to rescue the California condor from the brink of extinction, government officials say the critically endangered vultures are now at risk of being killed by spinning turbine blades. Roughly 100 captive-bred condors currently soar above this rugged range between the Mojave Desert and the fertile Central Valley. Although there has yet to be a documented case of a wind turbine injuring or killing a condor, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says condor collisions are inevitable if the population continues to balloon.
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