Electrify this: Victoria bans natural gas in new buildings, and IKEA charges America

Spain goes solar in a big way, and America’s largest EV-subscription app expands its fleet in electrification news this week

Victoria bans natural gas

B.C. municipalities ban fossil fuels in new buildings

Victoria, B.C., is set to become one of the first Canadian municipalities to ban the use of fossil fuels for water and space heating in new developments. Last week, the city announced that it will require all new buildings be “zero carbon” by July 2025, five years ahead of provincial standards. “Buildings account for nearly half of all greenhouse gas pollution generated in the city,” Mayor Lisa Helps said in a press release. “Each new building will last more than 50 years so raising the bar now is critical to meeting our long-term climate goals, and to preparing the taxpayers of the future to have less climate-related costs down the road.” Victoria will join the municipalities of Saanich and Central Saanich in adopting these changes ahead of the provincial schedule.

Autonomy buys 23,000 EVs

One of the big snags the electric vehicle market is experiencing is a lack of supply. It can take months for someone who buys an EV to receive it, and the high price of the vehicles is still out of reach for many (even with subsidies). An American company called Autonomy wants to give more consumers the chance to drive electric through a monthly subscription service. The company, which is already the biggest EV subscription service in the U.S., just announced it plans to buy 23,000 EVs from 17 different car manufacturers, including GM, Ford and Volkswagen. It previously only offered vehicles made by Tesla. The company’s order will see its fleet grow from 3,250 to more than 22,000 by the fourth quarter of 2023. Altogether, the order will be worth US$1.2 billion.

Let there be light

Last week, Iberdrola SA turned on a massive solar plant that can power more than 334,000 homes. Bloomberg reports that the Spanish utility company will slowly ramp up production at the plant over the next few weeks until its 1.5 million solar panels are fully operational. The sun-swept country, which gets around 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, is aiming to get 75% of its electricity from renewable power by 2030.

Electrify the mail

While many European countries have postal services that deliver the mail with the help of thousands of electric vehicles (in France, La Poste has 40,000 EVs), the U.S. Postal Service currently has a paltry two dozen electric trucks. That’s about to change now that Congress has passed the Inflation Reduction Act. The bill includes $3 billion to buy zero-emissions vehicles and charging stations for the USPS. In the spring, several environmental groups launched a lawsuit challenging the USPS’s decision that only 10% of its trucks would be electric. Then in July, in response to the backlash, the USPS announced it would electrify 40% of its fleet. Surely the funding boost will allow it to electrify an even greater chunk (if not all) of its trucks.

Charging stations with a side of Swedish meatballs

Last year, IKEA made headlines for selling renewable energy to customers in Sweden. Now the furniture giant is installing more than 200 high-power charging stations for EVs at 25 stores across the U.S. in partnership with a Volkswagen subsidiary called Electrify America. The charging stations will be installed by the end of 2023. Electrify America has installed 3,500 charging stations across the U.S. since 2018 and plans to install 10,000 total in the U.S. and Canada by 2026.



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