This week Current climatewhich every Saturday brings you the latest in sustainability business. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every week.
IIn the 1941 short story “Reason”, Science fiction author Isaac Asimov described a future where electricity was generated in space and then transmitted to Earth1. It took nearly three decades for engineers to first describe a practical way to operate such a power plant in orbit. This week, nearly 50 years after that first engineering proposal and more than 80 years after the new one, CalTech took a big step toward realizing that sci-fi idea: On Tuesday, its experimental solar power satellite in orbit was launched into orbit. The project is backed by more than $100 million in donations from real estate billionaire Donald Bren.
This prototype satellite will be able to begin its first tests within a few weeks. It consists of a modular test component that could serve as the basis for building larger solar power plants in orbit, 32 different types of photovoltaic cells to test which type would be best for use in space, and a microwave array to test the radiation power to the Earth’s surface. . If the technology works, it could help address one of the main limitations of solar power: in orbit, you can arrange things so that it’s rarely dark. .
“No matter what happens, this prototype is a major breakthrough,” Ali Hajimiri, co-director of the project, said in a press release. “It works here on Earth and has passed the rigorous steps required for anything launched into space. There are still many risks, but going through the whole process has taught us some valuable lessons. We believe the Space experiments will provide us with a lot of additional useful information that will guide the project as we continue to move forward.”
1 In the story, the robots that maintained this power plant also ended up developing a religion in which they worshiped it, so keep an eye out for ChatGPT’s spiritual inclinations once its training data grows to include information about the successful launch of the project.
The big read
Renewables saw a $500 billion boom in government investment in 2022
The International Energy Agency reported that global public spending to support clean energy has increased by more than $500 billion since March and a plethora of policies have emerged to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
Learn more here.
Discoveries and Innovations
The USDA has granted a conditional license for a vaccine developed by Dalan Animal Healthwhich helps prevent American foulbrood disease in bees.
Family farms across the country have started using food waste generate electricity for their operations.
A real estate development in Florida contains 86 homes that can stay powered for weeks even when off the grid thanks to solar power and good engineering.
Sustainability Deals of the Week
Next Generation Batteries: West Virginia will soon be home to a new plant owned by Form Energy, which has created a next-generation battery made from cheap materials like iron, water and oxygen.
Online Battery Recycling: Nevada-based Aqua Metals has announced that its lithium battery recycling plant is now operational and expects its first products to come to market in the first quarter of this year.
Deep Technology: The University of Chicago launched Polsky Deep Tech Ventures, a $20 million initiative to develop cutting-edge science-based companies, including a dedicated accelerator for cleantech startups.
on the horizon
Despite potential economic downturnsanalysts expect investment in the cleantech sector to continue growing in 2023 and beyond, with Pitchbook estimating the total market size to be approximately $1.4 trillion over the next five years .
What else we read this week
The Year Ahead in Energy (Gizmodo)
Will Brazilian President Lula keep his climate promises? (Nature)
Will the global emissions plateau in 2023? Four trends to watch (Scientific American)
Green Transportation Update
Jesla is off to a great start in 2022, ramping up production at its Shanghai factory and opening new Gigafactories earlier this year in Berlin and Austin. But as the months passed, things started to change, not just because of the continued chaos of CEO Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter. And 2023 is not looking very good so far. The world’s leading electric vehicle brand announced fourth-quarter delivery figures this week that fell short of analysts’ expectations, which had already been lowered. With increasingly stiff competition in the electric vehicle market, both in North America and China, Tesla’s stated goal of increasing sales by 50% per year seems increasingly unlikely, even if overall sales of battery-powered cars and trucks are increasing across the board.
The great history of transport
Plug in, turn on: the most popular new electric vehicles coming in 2023
An impressive selection of electric cars, trucks and SUVs will debut in 2023 with stunning styling and extended operating ranges that should help boost sales exponentially, perhaps even dramatically, among a growing assemblage of electric vehicle enthusiasts. Here’s a quick look at 19 brand-new models that will be heading to dealer showrooms in the coming months.
Learn more here.
More green transport news
Tesla stock falls to 29-month low, but analyst says it remains on ‘right’ path
Transportation trends in 2023 that could impact the future of transportation
67% of households in Islington have no motor vehicles, 2021 census reveals
The expensive and harmful truth about electric vehicles
EV tax credits have changed, but would loans make more sense?
BYD electric vehicle sales, backed by Warren Buffett, hit monthly record in December
Should the megajoule replace the kWh as the unit of energy for electric cars? Listen to me
For more sustainability coverage, click here.