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EGEB: National Clean Energy Week Policy Makers Symposium; Caltech given $750M for green energy research, more

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • National Clean Energy Week Policy Makers Symposium takes place today in Washington, DC.
  • GM proposes a battery plant for EVs in Ohio strike talks — but with lower pay.
  • Caltech will be given $750 million for green energy research — the second-largest donation ever to a US university.
  • Emission-optimized EV charging can prevent a lot of wasted energy.

The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

National Clean Energy Week (NCEW) will host the third annual Policy Makers Symposium today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The program includes legislators, government leaders, and clean energy advocates.

The symposium will also include panel discussions with participants representing NCEW sponsors and steering committee members that will expand on how to advance support of [the US] energy sector through new methods of market development, policy change, and technological innovation.

The full program is listed here. There are some good panel topics, such as “Clean Energy in the Mainstream,” “Clean Energy at Giga-Scale: Achieving Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions,” and “Empowering Women Through Clean Energy.”

But one has to wonder what representatives from the National Propane Gas Association and BP America will have to say on the “Technology Leadership: American-Made Solutions for the World” panel.

Tiny workforce at GM’s potential Ohio EV battery plant

General Motors has offered to build a new battery plant near Lordstown, Ohio, for the electric cars it plans to sell globally. GM plans to introduce 20 battery-powered vehicles by 2023.

As we previously reported, the automaker has put this offer on the table in its negotiations with the striking United Auto Workers Union (UAW). GM stopped manufacturing the Chevrolet Cruze in Lordstown in March because the car wasn’t selling.

The battery plant would create several hundred jobs, and of course help grow the EV industry. But there are a lot of caveats: The plant would probably pay $17 an hour. Senior people at the former Lordstown plant made $30 an hour. And the workforce would be tiny compared to the more than 3,000 who worked at the old plant.

Tesla’s battery plant in Nevada, which is not unionized, pays its workers $17 an hour.

The strike enters its 11th day today. The UAW wants the company to reopen plants, and increase US production and wages for temporary workers and recent hires. The battery plant remains under consideration by the UAW.

Big bucks for sustainability research

Stewart and Lynda Resnick, billionaire owners of the Wonderful Company, whose brands include Fiji Water, Wonderful Pistachios, and Teleflora, will be announcing a huge university donation today.

The Resnicks will be giving $750 million to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for green energy and technology research to combat climate change. It will also fund the hub for the research, the 75,000-square-foot Resnick Sustainability Resource Center. Caltech stated:

The commitment, part of Caltech’s ‘Break Through’ campaign, is the largest ever for environmental sustainability research, the largest in Caltech’s history, and the second-largest gift to a US academic institution.

This transformative commitment will support Caltech’s investigators as they pursue research in solar science, climate science, energy, biofuels, decomposable plastics, water and environmental resources, and ecology and biosphere engineering.

EV charging — timing matters

There are expected to be 19 million electric vehicles in the US by 2030. And of course, those EVs will need more charging stations. So if EVs charge at times when there is surplus renewable energy, then that energy won’t go to waste, WattTime explains in a report about emission-optimized charging.

Further, WattTime’s technology detects which power plants are powering your devices and when, so consumers can reduce emissions from energy. (Just type in your zip code on their website, and it’ll tell you the grid emissions intensity in your area.)

The five conclusions in WattTime’s report are:

  • Smarter charging reduces annual emissions up to an additional 18%.
  • Smarter charging reduces daily emissions up to an additional 90%.
  • Emissions reductions are possible everywhere, although the biggest opportunities are in “blended” grids (i.e., fossil and renewable) that exhibit large emissions-rate swings.
  • Adopted at scale, emissions-optimized EV charging could yield very large aggregate, absolute emissions reductions.
  • Thoughtful rate design is critical to align EV charging incentives — and should complement emissions-optimized EV charging.

To put it simply, if we think about emissions and charge at a more optimal time of day, we could reduce EV impact even further.

Photo: Block Island Wind Farm, Rhode Island, the first commercial offshore wind farm in the US

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.