While there are those who do not believe that human activity has changed the Earth’s climate since the beginning of the Industrial Age, most experts in industry and academia study tea leaves and atmospheric temperature a few years back.
Energy companies, researchers and manufacturers alike have responded to consumer and government goals by adopting that stage’s options in new systems and technologies while eliminating the old.
That’s why about 300 US coal plants have been closed since 2010, and more coal plants will be closed in the next three or four years. Some US coal plants are being replaced with fossil or “natural” gas; Others by combining renewable energy and conservation strategies.
Either way, finding a new coal plant on the US utility drawing board is difficult. The real challenge will include countries, particularly China, which are expanding coal-fired production plants or other countries where there is no real alternative to coal. Wisconsin can offer expertise, especially with the recent boom in solar power and transmission technologies.
Wisconsin is also making practical advances in the development of electric vehicles as well as autonomous cars and trucks. Beginning in 2022, Green Bay-based Schneider 50 Freightliner will add eCascadias — the truck maker’s first commercial Class 8 battery-electric truck — to its Southern California intermodal operations. This would give Schneider one of the largest battery-electric truck fleets in North America.