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2 Sep 2023

This week’s Current Climate, which every Saturday brings you the latest news about the business of sustainability. Sign up to get it in your inbox every week.

Solar farm near mountains
Getty Images

According to the Energy Information Administration, shipments of solar panels in the United States increased 10% from 2021 to 2022, setting a record for such shipments in the United States. This helped result in 10.9 gigawatts of new utility-scale solar power capacity being added in 2022, as well as 6.4 GW of small-scale capacity. This has been helped along by the significantly reduced costs of manufacturing solar panels since 2010 - back then, the average value of solar panel shipments was $1.96 per peak watt. In 2022, that figure was $0.39 per peak watt.

And it’s not just the United States that’s seeing a solar boom. According to industry analyst firm Ember, the first half of 2023 saw solar power generation grow 13% in the European Union. That coincides with a huge fall in fossil fuel generation, which dropped 17% in the first half of this year. In May, coal power provided less than 10% of power generation in the EU, a record low. Overall renewable energy generation is seeing big boosts in Europe, as the report authors note that “[f]rom January to June, 17 countries generated record shares of power from renewables, with Greece and Romania passing 50% for the first time and Denmark and Portugal both breaking 75%.”

Redwood Materials plant for battery recycling in a desert landscape
Redwood Materials

Redwood Materials, led by Tesla cofounder and board member JB Straubel, raised more than $1 billion from investors to help fund battery recycling and components plants its building in Nevada and South Carolina.

Read more here.

A new scientific study offers the first-ever estimates of how many polar bear cubs die because of greenhouse gas emissions—something experts hope will allow the federal government to use the Endangered Species Act to regulate individual projects for their greenhouse gas emissions.

More than half of the country’s wetlands could lose federal protections after the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday rolled back its definition of federal waters to comply with a momentous Supreme Court ruling in May.

Researchers have developed a device that can capture carbon dioxide from industrial emissions at room temperature and using less energy than conventional methods. The discovery could make carbon capture more practical for these applications.

As autonomous vehicles flood San Francisco, first responders have flagged dozens of instances where a self-driving car has disrupted operations. Some of the incidents have been disputed, and other cities haven’t faced the same problems.

Pham Nhat Vuong, chairman of Vingroup JSC
© 2022 Bloomberg Finance LP

Newly public Vietnamese electric vehicle maker VinFast saw its market cap soar to $190 billion early this week before plunging to $81 billion by Thursday. It's likely worth just a tiny fraction of that amount.

Read more here.

Soil Health: Trace Genomics, which generates insight for soil health so farmers can better manage their yields, announced it’s partnering with Taurus Agricultural Marketing, which will be Trace’s exclusive distribution partner in Canada.

Battery Manufacturing: American Battery announced that it has secured a $50 million debt financing deal to expand its lithium-ion battery recycling efforts and to accelerate commercialization of its lithium resource development and refining.

Nuclear Fusion: nT-Tao, which is developing nuclear fusion power technologies, announced that Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance has joined its series A round as an investor.

Thermal Energy: Brenmiller Energy received final regulatory approval to supply thermal energy to Israel’s Wolfson hospital. Once completed, the project is expected to save the hospital over $1.3 million every year and reduce its carbon footprint by 3,900 tons per year.

America Is Using Up Its Groundwater Like There’s No Tomorrow (The New York Times)

It’s Getting Harder to Find Mining Engineers a Green World Needs (Bloomberg)

Gardens blooming with endangered plants could prove a boon to conservation (Science)

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