In an event meant to showcase the differences in the candidate’s plans to lead the USA for the next decade, all the Republicans at this week’s debate were in raging agreement on one subject: they believe the key to American progress and prosperity is to unleash domestic coal, gas and crude production. These Republican party “leaders” still dismiss climate change, while every major university, corporation and country knows and says differently. After the hottest Summer on record and with a slew of 2023 climate events, that perception is changing, but the Rs’ goal is burn even more fossil fuel -- and ACCELERATE climate change even faster.
Indeed, one of sharpest barbs was Nikki Haley calling out Ron DeSantis for banning fracking and offshore drilling in Florida. DeSantis also dodged a pointed question on increased Florida home insurance costs, which have tripled to around $6k a year for average homeowners in the wake of devastating Florida hurricanes. $6k a year is pretty tough on Florida’s senior citizens living on social security.
The Rs, with Donald Trump in the lead, are also deriding EVs as the ruin of Detroit/America even though every global car company is phasing out ICE vehicles; US companies won’t be able to compete without a strong EV lineup. EVs are already cheaper to own and operate than comparable ICE vehicles, especially with higher gas prices. It’s not good for labor but good for consumers that EVs require 30% fewer labor hours to build than ICE vehicles. EVs also solely run on electricity from domestic energy sources, while ICE vehicles use gasoline from crude oil. The US needs to import 8 million barrels of the 20 million barrels of crude we consume every day from Canada and OPEC -- mostly for vehicle fuel.
Similarly, Ford is being criticized by Trump for partnering with China’s CATL to build an EV battery factory in Michigan. Unlike Elon Musk and the Chinese, Ford, GM and Stellantis didn’t see the EV boom coming and don’t own fundamental battery technology. Now, they have to improvise. Why not get CATL to help them build a US factory? China’s playbook for decades was to get US companies to build factories in China and then replicate/steal the US technology to build pure Chinese factories.
DeSantis could have instead touted at the debate the surprising news that Florida led the nation with the install of 2.5 Gigawatts of utility scale solar capacity in the first half of 2023, surpassing both Texas and California at 1.5 Gigawatts each. Florida’s total installed electric capacity is only around 60 Gigawatts; at 5 Gigwatts per year, in 6 years the Sunshine State will close in on half its power from solar.
Why the solar acceleration? Because it’s so darn cheap to make electricity with solar farms, even without incentives. Going forward, there will be plenty of cheap solar electricity for all the big sunshine states to run their economies and charge their EVs. That’s where a bright American future lies.
In other news:
Following up on our July 2023 piece Texas Blacked Out Without Solar and Wind Power: The WSJ ran an interesting related article this week Giant Batteries Helped the US Power Grid Eke Through Summer.