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3ThoughtThursday – Local support, Bill Gates’ new book, our home in the Frontier Region

We started this blog three weeks ago with a reference to Elliotte Friedman’s 31Thoughts column. At the time, I was questioning how Friedman was able to muster up 31 thoughts every week and so I set what I thought was a much more reasonable goal of three thoughts per week.

That said, as we continue, I am noticing that already it’s becoming difficult to narrow down the weekly post to just three things you need to know. There is so much happening in the world of clean energy and much of it is happening right here in Bruce, Grey and Huron!

This week, we’ll give you an inside look at our recent appearance before Huron County Council, provide some insights on the questions that Bill Gates thinks we should be asking when we talk about climate change solutions, and give you a look at the Clean Energy Frontier’s home in the region: the Nuclear Innovation Institute.

1. Huron County Council expresses support for the Clean Energy Frontier!

Yesterday (March 3, 2021), the Clean Energy Frontier program appeared before Huron County Council to discuss our region’s clean energy advantage, the technical elements of the program, and to answer any questions that our local municipal leaders had.

The meeting also saw Council formally adopt a motion to join the Clean Energy Frontier program, signalling Huron County’s support for our goals and ambitions here in the region.

It was incredible to see the enthusiasm expressed by Council for clean energy and for working together to not only tell our region’s clean energy story but to build and expand on the opportunities presented by our advantages in clean energy. We are looking forward to working with Huron County and humbled by their support!

2. The 5 things Bill Gates says you should be asking about climate change solutions…

I recently picked up Bill Gates’ How to Avoid a Climate Disaster and am working my way through it. Admittedly, I have not reached the end of the book yet, but one of the early chapters offers some interesting advice on the questions we should be asking when it comes to conversations about climate change solutions.

I’ll highlight a couple in this post, but if you want to read more, Gates lays out all five pretty succinctly in this article.

How much of the 51 billion tons are we talking about?

Every year, 51 billion ton of greenhouse gases (GHG) are emitted globally. We need to get to zero by 2050. These are big numbers, and they are hard to conceptualize. Therefore, Gates suggests that when you are presented with a potential solution, you should convert the identified GHG reductions to a percentage of that 51 billion.

For example, take a project that will reduce GHGs by 17 million ton. Divide that by 51 billion and you have a project that will reduce global GHGs by 0.03%.

It’s all about perspective, and this tactic helps us keep proposed solutions focused on the task at hand: net zero emissions by 2050.

How much space do you need?

This is a straight-forward question that speaks to question of power density. We only have so much space here on Earth and we are going to need to produce a lot of clean energy in the years to come.

So, when examining proposed solutions, we should look at how much space these solutions take up.

Nuclear power has a great advantage when it comes to power density with average watts per square meter in the 500-1,000 range as compared 5-20 watts per square meter for solar and 1-2 watts per square metre for wind, according to Gates’ book.

While we will need a complementary mix of clean energy supply that includes nuclear, solar and wind, we should, as Gates notes, be asking the important question of how much space we need for each of these options.

3. Our home in the Frontier Region celebrated its virtual grand opening last week!

Ever seen a former police station transform into a centre for innovation? That’s what we witnessed last week as the Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII) virtually opened its doors!

NII, the Clean Energy Frontier program’s home in the region, is an outstanding community space and we are looking forward to welcoming guests from across the region and beyond when it is safe to do so.

If you haven’t yet, check out the grand opening video:

--Chad Richards is the Director of the Clean Energy Frontier.


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