A Message from our Vice-Chair,
John Calimente

February is a good candidate for the most depressing month of the year, which means that any negative climate news seems to hit a bit harder right now. To counter that, let’s review some of the amazing progress in shifting to sustainable energy sources that’s occurring around the globe.

First off, the conservative International Energy Agency has announced that demand for fossil fuels will peak before 2030 due to the ‘phenomenal’ increase in clean energy technologies such as electric cars, heat pumps, along with wind and solar energy. They predict that renewable energy could occupy greater than half of the global energy mix. It’s beginning to happen in countries like Portugal, which used only renewable power for 6 straight days last fall. That’s for a population of 10 million!

Moreover, global greenhouse emissions from the power sector may have peaked in 2022 due to record growth in wind and solar. Coal and oil burning power plants are being replaced by wind farms. This uptake has been driven by falling prices for renewables. The IPCC reports that the cost of both solar and wind power has dropped by 60 to 90% in the past 10 years and new renewables are cheaper than new fossil fuels in most of the world. This will mean an accelerated shift to renewables.

In transportation, innovations are being announced daily. Against the onslaught of misinformation about electric vehicles,  sales of EVs broke more records in January. Sales increased by 41% in Canada and the US and 69% globally compared with January 2023. Swedish manufacturer Candela is testing small electric catamaran ferries for up to 30 passengers that could lead to greater use of passenger ferries along our coast. Another Swedish manufacturer is working on a truck trailer with solar panels that could help decarbonize trucks that are already on the road. Progress is being made with railways as well – U.S. locomotive manufacturer Wabtec is introducing a 100% battery-electric locomotive that is the first step in moving away from diesel engines. 

In B.C., there are now electric semi-trucks being driven by Wal-mart, electric fire trucks coming to the City of Vancouver

and an electric garbage truck to the City of Burnaby. If current EV adoption trends continue, by next year we’ll be saving 2 million barrels of oil per day! In battery news, the exciting information came in January that a huge battery plant will be constructed by the Malahat First Nation on Vancouver Island that will produce grid-scale battery storage systems to transition building systems to electrification. This follows the announcement in November of a $1 billion lithium battery manufacturing plant by E-One Moli in Maple Ridge, producing cells for vehicles, tools, and consumer electronics.

It’s sometimes hard to see the speed of progress until you step back and see the speed and scope of change occurring. It’s happening, and the BC Sustainable Energy Association is working hard to accelerate that change.

John Calimente, Vice-Chair, BCSEA