Vision, Community, Action, Policy: The RTC’s Five-Year Plan

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On June 22, 2021, Lever for Change announced the Renewable Thermal Collaborative (RTC) as the winner of the 2030 Climate Challenge, a competition to advance climate change solutions in the industrial, building, or transportation sectors. The RTC will use the five-year $10M grant to reduce United States industrial sector greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030. We’re working to double the use of renewable thermal energy in the U.S. industrial sector by 2025 and triple its renewable thermal use by 2030[1].

These are ambitious goals. We’ll be expanding our collaborations with large thermal energy users and innovative solutions providers. The RTC is building out our five-year work plan around four key “levers” ­– Vision, Community, Action, and Policy – each aimed at overcoming barriers to renewable thermal deployment. Each lever includes multiple, specific actions:

Lever 1: Vision

The vision will serve as the foundation for the RTC’s work, and it will help:

  • Mainstream renewable thermal energy as a must-tackle issue for business, policymakers, and the media.
  • Build “communities for action”to develop and drive implementation on the ground, engaging the local communities where pilot projects are deployed.
  • Educate state and federal policymakers on the role of renewable thermal energy technologies and the need for ambitious, credible, and well-structured policies.
  • Mainstream the need for a just and inclusive thermal energy transition and commit to that mission by listening to, learning from, acting alongside, and advocating for historically marginalized groups internally and externally.

Lever 2: Community

A larger, more active community can scale renewable thermal deployments at an increased pace. The RTC will strengthen the renewable thermal community by:

  • Recruiting new members and sponsors, adding at least 100 new members (large energy buyers) and 30 new sponsors (technology and solution providers) to the RTC.
  • Hosting regular community engagement opportunities, including annual summits, regular community calls, public webinars, ongoing workstream working groups, and monthly newsletters.
  • Producing and supporting mainstream public announcements and media coverage of corporate renewable thermal energy investments to dynamize the thermal space, grow its public awareness to match that of the renewable electricity space, and increase the public benefit for companies to invest in renewable thermal technologies.
  • Scaling public communication and outreach by participating in high-level climate events and industry conferences, and develop blogs, op-eds, and other thought pieces.
  • Developing a Just Transition & Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Advisory Committee comprised of RTC members and outside organizations that represent marginalized and frontline communities impacted by fossil fuel pollution, people with disabilities, and labor groups affected by the renewable thermal transition.

Lever 3: Action

Ultimately, decarbonization requires accelerating and increasing renewable thermal deployment. The RTC will drive this by:

  • Developing and implementing six Technology Action Plans and Partnerships (TAPPs) and five Sector Action Plans and Partnerships (SAPPs)through dedicated working groups comprised of RTC members, sponsors, and financiers, along with government experts, environmental justice (EJ) advocates, and labor experts. These will be the foundation of our work and will focus on renewable natural gas, biomass, green hydrogen, electrification, solar thermal, and thermal storage and five sectors prioritized by emissions impact, the potential for renewable thermal transition in the short- and mid-term, and member interest.
  • Catalyzing or facilitating 35 corporate renewable thermal energy pilot projects.
  • Generating and disseminating lessons learned through at least 15 case studies on the deployment of specific renewable thermal energy solutions, more than 20 webinars on technology assessments and pilot projects, and regular blogs describing lessons learned.

Lever 4: Policy

Federal and state policies supportive of renewable thermal are critical to addressing technology, market, and economic barriers. The RTC will work to support more effective renewable thermal policy by:

  • Developing policy research and analysis through a collation of policy experts and labor, DEI, and EJ advocates.
  • Tracking national and state policy developments through a publicly accessible database of federal and state renewable thermal energy policies.
  • Educating RTC members, sponsors, and stakeholders on policy through working groups, community calls, and webinars.
  • Educating policymakers through designated non-partisan state and federal educational briefings.

We will be sharing more details about all these activities as we go forward.

This is an incredibly exciting moment for the RTC. We could not have reached this point without the support, insight, and expertise of all our members and sponsors. We’re grateful for all your involvement and can’t wait to expand our efforts together over these next five years!

If you’re not yet an RTC member or sponsor, join us! Please contact Blaine Collison, Executive Director of the RTC, at Blaine@dgardiner.com. Now, let’s get to work!

[1] Against a 2018 baseline