Time for end of the year predictions. I’d like to jump around and cover as much terrain as I can. Let’s go─
Starting first with microgrids. “A microgrid is a local grid with an independent source of energy capable of disconnecting or “islanding” from the utility grid.” The Department of Energy identifies about 500 microgrids in the United States, there are certainly going to be many more.
One example is Redwood Coast Airport in Humboldt County. Power is generated by solar panels, energy is distributed to the municipal airport just north of Eureka, California. The microgrid uses Tesla batteries for storage. The airport and its assorted buildings and hangars can connect to the grid or disconnect from the grid, and it is this feature, that distinguishes a microgrid. Some renewable powered sites do not connect to the grid and operate as independent standalone systems.
Microgrids─ especially where there are fleets of commercial vehicles parked off hours offer enormous battery storage capacity for state or regional grid operators to utilize by borrowing then returning power back to the fleet before the vehicles return to service the next morning. Expect microgrids to be common across the country by end of this decade. Think about electrified school buses, United States Post Office vehicles, Amazon, FedEx, UPS… all these vehicles networked by computers will give solar and wind energy a place to be stored until power is needed. I’m predicting that by the end of this decade the electric vehicles in your neighborhood will be used as a microgrid.
Ford Motor Company will begin to deliver their first electric pickup trucks early next year. Entry level models will be priced at $40,000. If a customer qualifies there will be up to $12,500 in rebates and credits, that’s a full-size pickup truck for under $30K. My prediction is this truck, based off of the Ford F-150 which has been the most popular pickup truck in America for the past 40 years, and it is this vehicle that is going to shatter sales records, by 2024 expect it to be the America’s top selling electric vehicle. Self-employed business owners that use trucks to haul tools and supplies to job sites will transition to these vehicles writing down their cost as a business expense and instead of purchasing gasoline will recharge at night off a many times less expensive electric grid. Commercial EV’s are going to revolutionize vehicle-based businesses.
More to consider as we forecast events ahead with the potential to disrupt our world. Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier is threatening collapse and scientists are forecasting sea level rise of between 2 to 10 feet, but the new news is that timeline for this sea level rise has been pushed forward. Recent forecasts have sea level rise happening in the next 60 months, and likely even sooner. Of the 7.9 billion people on the planet 680 million of us live on land threatened to be inundated by rising seas. In the national elections of 2024 sea level rise is going to be the mother of all campaign issues. If you don’t have a plan, and basically there is no plan, your candidacy will be rendered irrelevant. If the plan is retreat, that isn’t a plan, and you are going to lose. San Francisco, New York City and Miami are going to attempt building multi-billion-dollar sea walls, less developed communities with smaller populations and less money will have to retreat to higher ground. The Army Corp of Engineers has mapped low lying shoreline that is going to be lost to rising seas.
The drought gripping the American West is a more complicated prediction. Thousands of farms and ranches are vying for the same water as their states metropolitan areas where many millions live and when push comes to shove it’s the people that will end up getting the water. There is San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Las Vegas, Reno, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Tucson, Albuquerque, Denver and Boise. With swelling populations across the west and in midst of a changing climate, a place than on average is slightly warmer, slightly drier and because of the shortage of water millions of acres will need to be taken out of production. The structural drought (too much water promised but not enough to go around) is going to pit the western states against one another, it is going to be litigious, and rattle the politics of the American West for most of this century.
Bill Gates has been investing in mini-nuclear reactor technology. A demonstration project is going up in Wyoming. There are claims that this technology is cost competitive, but these claims have not been proven and many believe them not to be true. Decommissioning costs are high and the engineering and efficacy of storing spent fuel safely for the next 250,000 years is unsettled science. If this reactor does get built it will fail to prove to be safe, reliable or competitive with other forms of power generation.
The great issues of the day are no longer something happening out there to those people in that country over there faraway from where citizens in the United States, Canada or Europe live. We are all suffering from the effects of climate change. We have all had to cope with a deadly pathogen. We have all had to cope with the digital revolution and the chaos and disinformation social media platforms are infected with. Then there is the crisis in our government, it is no longer a secret, it is a well understood that the Republican Party has broken faith with democracy and is seeking to regain power, form an autocratic government and then never relinquish power to any other party again. The coalition consists of evangelical Christians, nativists, White Nationalists and low tax and less regulation capitalists. It is a painful to witness. Corporations headquartered here in this country have remained on the sidelines and with our democracy at risk with far too many stakeholders fearful of alienating their customers many of our business leaders are opting to remain silent in the hope that the unsettled political crisis will come to some kind of peaceful end.
The whole world wants the pandemic to be over. We all want the drought to end. Pick any poll anywhere in the world and the people want the climate fixed, nobody wants to see more super storms, tornadoes or out of control wildfires. It turns out it is easier to tell you what is under the hood of an electric car than what is lurking in the hearts and minds of the voters. I’d prefer we fix our problems not make the error of tossing away our freedom. That’s what we’re working on from this remote outpost here on the edge of Pacific Ocean in a place called California. We are working on making a better world for our children and our future. All of us, together, we’re working on making this a better world─ that’s not a prediction, that’s the truth