Bill Gates’ Path to Zero Carbon by 2050

Bill Gates’ Path to Zero Carbon by 2050

*adapted from a Zero Energy Project article by Joe Emerson

 

In his new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Bill Gates identifies the need for the world to get to Zero Carbon by 2050 and the consequences to the global population if we do not. He uses Zero to quantify and provide a tool for measuring the effectiveness of various technologies for getting us there. Currently, the world emits 51 billion tons of greenhouse gases per year, and we need to get to Zero by 2050. The steps are measurable. The goal is ambitious but achievable. It will not be easy!

THE GREEN PREMIUM

Gates uses the idea of the “green premium” to describe the cost to replace an existing carbon-emitting technology with a zero-carbon technology that performs the same function. The green premium can be low or even negative for many energy conservation measures and some renewable energy sources because these cost less than the current practices. The green premium can be high for other technologies in which the low-carbon alternatives are undeveloped and technically complex. Gates suggests that technologies with a high green premium need significant funding for research and development with the goal of bringing down prices so they can be implemented worldwide before 2050.

THE “EASY” TASKS

Several significant zero-carbon technologies with a low “green premium” are poised for widespread acceptance, such as electric vehicles, solar and wind power, and heat pumps. Gates urges us to electrify everything we can and to move forward with a renewable smart grid. Gates emphasizes that we are not implementing the easier stuff at anywhere near the scale needed. “We should be building out renewables 5 to 10 times faster.”

THE “HARD” TASKS

Gates describes the more challenging technological breakthroughs that we will need to implement to get to zero, including:

  • making zero-carbon cement, steel, and plastics
  • formulating aviation, shipping, and long-haul trucking fuels
  • implementing climate positive agriculture practices
  • building integrated super smart grids
  • handling the intermittency (both daily and seasonal) problem posed by renewable power generation.

For that, he calls for research into improved battery storage, clean hydrogen, and small-scale, safe, inexpensive nuclear power. To get transportation fuels to zero, he advocates for more research and development on clean hydrogen and low-carbon biofuels. And he stresses the need for more research into zero-carbon steel, concrete, and plastics to make them price competitive with existing materials.

GETTING TO ZERO BY 2030 OR 2050?

Gates believes that a 2030 target to reach zero carbon is an unrealistic deadline and that shifting to natural gas to reduce carbon by then is a dead end. We should develop and implement solutions that get us to zero even though it may take more time. While we are doing the crucial research on the hard tasks, we need to go full throttle with implementing the easier ones. To do that, we need to lower the green premium across the board.

LOWERING GREEN PREMIUMS

Gates points out that the price differential between electric vehicles and gas-fueled vehicles will disappear by 2030 due to increased scale of production and ongoing innovation. He indicates that the greater fuel savings and lower maintenance costs of electric cars already brings the green premium very close to zero. This downward curve that is happening with EVs is also happening with solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries, as well as energy-efficient heat pumps and induction stovetops. Lowering the green premium for these technologies could be as simple as creating an aggressive nationwide program of education, marketing, and financial incentives.

ZERO ENERGY HOMES AND BUILDINGS

Here are some suggestions for building professionals to help lower green premiums. These are not specified by Gates, but are in line with what he believes is needed. Over the next 10 years, we can immediately use a wide variety of easy off-the-shelf technologies, such as heat pumps, solar panels, induction stove topselectric vehicle chargers, advanced air sealingsuper insulation, and high-efficiency factory homes. These technologies can best be implemented by constructing all-electric zero energy or zero energy ready homes and buildings, with the goal that all new construction be zero energy by 2030.

A BREATH OF FRESH AIR, A COLD BATH, AND A COMPREHENSIVE PLAN

Bill Gates’ path to zero is a breath of fresh air because it is based on science and economic realities. At the same time, it feels like a cold shower because the task is complex. He doesn’t greenwash the challenges, but rather, quantifies their complexities, asks the hard questions, and puts a price tag on the solutions. He challenges us to quantify the effectiveness and costs of the various strategies for getting from 51 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year to zero.

His plan for getting to zero carbon by 2050 calls on citizens, consumers, corporations, and governments to take appropriate actions. As a businessman and philanthropist, he stresses the need for zero carbon technologies to become more affordable than current ones, so they will be more accessible worldwide. Bill Gates’ book should be in the hands of every citizen. It is a roadmap we all must follow together.

 

Joe Emerson is an article author at Zero Energy Project.

Newly built home in Seattle goes beyond Net Zero

Newly built home in Seattle goes beyond Net Zero

View in the Showcase of High Performance Homes

*adapted from a Dwell Development LLC article.

SEATTLE, WA (April 2021) – Residential developer, Dwell Development LLC, continues to push the envelope of sustainable design and green construction in the Pacific Northwest with the completion of their Net-Positive Energy and Built Green 5-Star residential building certification programs. 

From design innovation to construction, Dwell takes an integrative approach to building some of the world’s most energy efficient homes. Positive Energy Homes are zero energy homes that are so efficient they produce more energy on an annual basis than they consume, leaving homeowners with extra energy to use in other ways such as powering electronics or even electric cars.  

Positive energy homes represent a whole new level of performance with rigorous requirements that ensure outstanding levels of energy savings, comfort, health, and durability. In order to meet these requirements, the home is equipped with a 14.25kW roof top array of solar panels that produces a Home Energy Rating System Index (HERS) rating of -2. 

“The key to zero and positive energy home building is to properly insulate and seal the home so heat and air are not lost through cracks in the building envelope,” says Anthony Maschmedt, Dwell Development owner.  

Demonstrating Dwell Development’s commitment to new achievements in green building, this is Dwell’s most energy-efficient home to date since completing Seattle’s first Emerald Star home in 2014.  

Dwell Development’s holistic approach to sustainable building helps homeowners conserve resources and cut costs while also setting the bar high for other residential developers. Net-positive homes are the next step for sustainable building, and with Dwell Development leading the way, positive energy homes will become the standard. 

 

About Dwell Development LLC

Dwell Development is founded in the belief that sustainable, efficient design can create a better tomorrow. Dwell has specialized in the design+build of high-performance, modern homes throughout Seattle and the surrounding areas. Each home is built to last, and designed with maximum comfort, urban livability, and health in mind. As leading experts in the field, Dwell Development constantly working towards the advancement and growth of sustainable design practices. Dwell strives towards creating the most energy-efficient homes in the world.

Learn more: www.dwelldevelopment.com