Causes for Optimism

This article was written By Brian Stewart and Joe Wachunas and originally published on zeroenergyproject.org in December 2020.

As a deeply challenging 2020 comes to a close, we are feeling hopeful for the immediate future. We see positive signs of building momentum around important solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis. We’ll soon have a new administration in Washington — one, that has appointed the nation’s first cabinet level climate envoy, who will also sit on the National Security Council. This is a welcome sign of commitment to tackling the problem of climate change.

Here are a few other developments that give us cause for optimism:

EV Adoption: California and 16 countries have set phaseout dates for the sale of new gas powered cars — many of them by 2030. Charging infrastructure in the U.S. is quickly expanding, and EV sales are following the rapid adoption patterns of other technologies such as smartphones and the internet.

Renewable Energy Growth: Last year set new records for U.S. wind and solar with 37 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity added, obliterating the past record of 17 GW. Solar energy is now the cheapest form of electricity generation in most countries, and 90% of the increase in recent power generation globally was from renewables. Across the country, coal-fired power plants are closing and electric utilities are pledging to become carbon neutral.

Building Electrification: Forty California communities have banned natural gas in new construction by passing all-electric building codes, and Seattle is seriously considering similar action. Updated building codes in many states, including California, Washington, Oregon, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, will also encourage more energy efficiency and electrification in new homes.

Community Solar Growth: There are now 40 states with small community solar programs and seven states with large-scale programs, including Oregon. These projects deliver local renewable energy to communities and businesses and provide lower cost electricity to low-income families. The next five years will see the U.S. add enough community solar generation to power 650,000 homes. Find out how you can participate in Community Solar and the electrification movement by visiting the Electrify Now website or tune into their electrify! webinar series.

Brian Stewart is the Founder of Electrify Now. He has more than 35 years experience in product design and manufacturing. Before retiring from Nike, he was vice president of Sustainable Innovation, where he led programs to reduce waste and cut carbon emissions. He co-founded Electrify Now to help educate homeowners on how to dramatically reduce household carbon emissions and help transition our energy systems to clean renewable energy.

Joe Wachunas is a passionate environmentalist who lives in Portland, Oregon. In addition to working for Electrify Now, Joe is a program manager for the nonprofit Forth, which promotes electric transportation. Joe believes that electrifying everything, from transportation to homes, is the quickest path to an equitable, clean energy future. And of course, Joe and his family use their own home to experiment and learn about all- electric solutions, solar power, and EVs.

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