By David Gardiner, Founder and President, and Blaine Collison, Senior Vice President
On June 22, the Renewable Thermal Collaborative (RTC) was announced as the winner of the 2030 Climate Challenge, a competition hosted by Lever for Change to advance climate change solutions in the industrial, building, or transportation sectors. The RTC will deploy the Challenge’s $10 million prize over the next five years to scale the use of renewable thermal energy in the United States’ industrial sector by 150% this decade, slashing U.S. industrial thermal emissions by 30%, and creating a pathway to full decarbonization by midcentury that supports a just and equitable transition.
DGA, along with the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), co-convenes the RTC, a growing coalition of more than 20 large thermal energy users including global industrials, U.S. localities, healthcare providers, and university systems, as well as more than 25 innovative renewable energy technology and solutions providers.
This is incredibly exciting news which begins to reflect both the progress the RTC has achieved and – more importantly – the scale and urgency of the challenge we’re facing to decarbonize industrial heat which is the source of 12.5% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and 10% of all global carbon emissions. This award is also an important step from philanthropy in recognizing this challenge.
Looking back at the initial discussion of what became the Renewable Thermal Collaborative – a meeting hosted by Mars and Procter & Gamble in September 2016 – and the evolution of the RTC, we see three important factors which have brought us to this point.
First, manufacturing companies like Mars and P&G have led this effort from the beginning. They did so by anticipating a critical climate challenge that many others were not focused on. They could see, even before many in the environmental community, that their ambitious climate commitments couldn’t be met without better renewable solutions for producing heat needed in the manufacturing process.
Second, these companies recognized that collaboration would be key to making change at the scale we need. They knew they couldn’t solve this problem on their own and needed the help of additional companies and other entities such as hospitals, state and local governments, and universities facing the same challenges, and from solutions providers and leading climate advocates such as C2ES and WWF. The RTC is an innovative partnership which is precisely what’s needed to create change at the pace and scale we need to achieve our climate goals.
Third, these companies had a vision about how to make this change. Many of these manufacturers have been active buyers of renewable electricity and have seen how a combination of market engagement by large buyers and technology providers and effective federal and state policies have transformed the economics and availability of wind and solar electricity. They believe we can replicate that experience across a wide array of renewable thermal technologies and decarbonize industrial heat. The Collaborative is bringing its members to that work: analyzing renewable thermal technologies such as beneficial electrification, green hydrogen, renewable natural gas, and solar thermal, while addressing key market barriers such as proper accounting for corporate GHG reductions and advocating for federal and state policies.
The RTC is pursuing an ambitious goal and work plan. We must continue to accelerate our collective – and collaborative – action to progress in this space. We invite companies, institutions, localities, and solutions providers to join us in these efforts. For more information, please visit the RTC website or contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.