Sign In or Create an Account.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Climate

More Money, More Heat Pumps

On new DoE funding, methane leaks, and beef rice

More Money, More Heat Pumps
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: A storm lurking off the coast of Australia could soon become a tropical cyclone • Bangkok's 11 million workers have been told to stay home today to avoid harmful air pollution • Washington, D.C., could see up to four inches of snow this weekend or none at all.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Americans are buying 675 EVs a day with the help of the IRA

Car sellers sold more than 25,000 tax credit-eligible electric vehicles between January 1 and February 6, according to new Treasury data. That’s an average of more than 675 EVs sold at a government-sponsored discount per day, Heatmap’s Emily Pontecorvo calculated. To put that in perspective, about 1.08 million cars were sold in total in the month of January, according to Cox Automotive, or about 34,840 per day. So the tax credit-supported EVs were only about 2% of the total cars sold. But 25,000 discounted EVs is nothing to scoff at considering that fewer models are eligible now than last year. Also, the Treasury said it has paid approximately $135 million in advance payments to dealers for about 19,000 of the EVs sold this year. “So even with fewer options available, buyers are still taking advantage of the new instant rebate and finding vehicles that work for them,” Pontecorvo said.

2. DoE funnels more money into heat pump manufacturing

The Department of Energy (DoE) yesterday announced it was making an additional $63 million available to speed up the adoption of residential heat pumps across the country. This is on top of the $169 million in federal funding announced in November of last year. The goal is to boost manufacturing of heat pump systems, but with this new influx of cash, it seems the DoE also wants to wake Americans up to the benefits of using a heat pump to heat and cool water. Its announcement notes that heat pump water heaters can be up to three times more energy efficient than conventional water heaters. “Basically, the federal funding is aiming to nix the use of gas in a home wherever possible,” wrote Matt Simon at Wired. Ali Zaidi, assistant to the president and national climate adviser, told Simon that “we’re really seeing, I think, a sea change across the country in terms of how people heat and cool their homes.” Data shows that in 2023, heat pumps outsold furnaces for the second year in a row.

3. Google to help map methane leaks

Google is teaming up with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to help track methane emissions from space. The MethaneSAT – a satellite developed specifically to monitor methane emissions – will launch into orbit next month. Google will use artificial intelligence to create a map of oil and gas infrastructure locations across the world. “Once we have that map, then we can overlay methane data,” said Yael Maguire, head of Google’s Geo Sustainability team. This will offer a “far better understanding of the types of machinery that contributes most to methane leaks.”

Google/Earth Engine

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that’s far more warming than carbon dioxide. But it breaks down in the atmosphere more quickly that CO2, so slashing it is seen as “one of the cheapest, fastest ways to curb global warming in the short term,” explainedBloomberg. Fossil fuel operations tend to dramatically underreport their methane releases, so the hope is that more transparency about emissions will encourage reduction efforts from producers, but reductions “can increase costs in the short term and slow output,” Bloomberg noted.

4. India eyes IEA membership

India wants to take its relationship with one of the world’s leading energy authorities to the next level. The country has applied to become a full member of the International Energy Agency (IEA), joining 31 other member countries, and ministers are deciding whether or not to say yes. India is already an “association country,” but full membership would boost its role in tackling climate change. It could also help the IEA “strengthen cooperation in Asia to stabilize energy supplies,” as the region emerges as a key source of new global energy consumption, The Nikkeireported. The IEA noted that energy demand is expected to grow more in India than in any other country over the next 30 years. “The world cannot plan for its energy future without India at the table,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.

5. Researchers unveil lab-grown pink ‘beef rice’

The latest development in the enduring quest to create a meat substitute that people will actually eat is “beef rice.” Yes, you read that right. Researchers in South Korea have grown rice grains in a lab that contain cow muscle and fat cells. The beef rice is pink, firm, and high in protein and fat. Unlike some other meat alternatives, it uses ingredients that are widely available, affordable, and have a lower carbon footprint per gram of protein than beef, leading its creators to declare it “a novel food ingredient that can overcome humanity’s food crisis.” But the proof will be in the (rice) pudding: “A critical test is around public appetite for these sorts of lab-developed foods,” Neil Ward, an agri-food and climate specialist and professor at the University of East Anglia, told CNN.

Yonsei University

THE KICKER

America’s 16,000 golf courses soak up 1.5 billion gallons of water per day.

Editor's note: This article has been changed to correct the number of EVs Americans are buying each day.

Yellow

Jessica Hullinger

Jessica Hullinger is a freelance writer and editor who likes to think deeply about climate science and sustainability. She previously served as Global Deputy Editor for The Week, and her writing has been featured in publications including Fast Company, Popular Science, and Fortune. Jessica is originally from Indiana but lives in London. Read More

Read More
Politics

Are Pollsters Getting Climate Change Wrong?

Why climate might be a more powerful election issue than it seems.

A pollster on an ice floe.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Climate change either is or isn’t the biggest issue of our time. It all depends on who you ask — and, especially, how.

In March, as it has since 1939, Gallup asked Americans what they thought was the most important problem facing the country. Just 2% of respondents said “environment/pollution/climate change” — fewer than those who said “poor leadership” or “unifying the country” (although more than those who said “the media.”) Pew, meanwhile, asked Americans in January what the top priority for the president and Congress ought to be for this year, and “dealing with climate change” ranked third-to-last out of 20 issues — well behind “defending against terrorism,” “reducing availability of illegal drugs,” and “improving the way the political system works.”

Keep reading...Show less
Blue
Politics

AM Briefing: Earth Day Edition

On expanding solar access, the American Climate Corps, and union news

Biden’s Big Earth Day Agenda
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Torrential rains forced Mauritius to shut down its stock exchange • “Once in a century” flooding hit southern China • In the Northern Hemisphere, the Lyrid meteor shower peaks tonight.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Biden kicks off Earth Day with $7 billion for expanding solar access

Today is Earth Day, but President Biden and his cabinet are celebrating all week long. Senior members of the administration have scheduled a national tour of events and announcements related to the president’s climate and environmental record. It starts with Biden’s visit to Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia, today, where he will announce $7 billion is being awarded to 60 state and local governments, tribes, and national and regional nonprofits through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Solar for All initiative, which aims to support solar in low- to moderate-income communities. The average grant size will be more than $80 million, and the funding will be used to design new programs and bolster existing ones that subsidize the cost of rooftop solar installations, community solar projects, and battery storage.

Keep reading...Show less
Yellow
Sparks

Biden’s $7 Billion Solar Bonanza

The Solar For All program is the final piece of the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

Solar panel installation.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The great promise of solar panels — in addition to their being carbon-free — is the democratization of energy. Anyone can produce their own power, typically for less than the going utility rate. The problem is that those who stand to benefit the most from this opportunity haven’t been able to access it.

That pattern could change, however, with Solar for All, a $7 billion program under the Environmental Protection Agency to support solar in low- to moderate-income communities. On Monday, the Biden administration announced it was awarding the funds to 60 state and local governments, tribes, and national and regional nonprofits, at an average grant size of more than $80 million.

Keep reading...Show less
Green