AI For Sustainability, The Billionaire Betting Against Coal And Tesla Facing Lower China Sales
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.
Thanks to all you loyal readers of the Current Climate newsletter. This week, we’re starting some changes to the format in an effort to bring you some more focused news on the business of sustainability. To that end, we’re introducing some new sections to the newsletter, including one that focuses on venture funding, M&A, contracts and other deals happening in the industry. I’m also pleased to announce that my colleague, Alan Ohnsman, is joining me as a co-writer of the newsletter. Alan will be bringing news to you every week about the world of green transportation, from electric cars to the hydrogen economy. Let us know what you think about the changes, and what other types of news you might be interested in knowing about.
But without further ado, here’s your roundup of the week in sustainability…
Earlier this week, Forbes published its fourth annual AI 50 list, which recognizes the privately-held North American companies that are doing interesting – and effective – things with artificial intelligence. Several of these companies do work that directly relates to the business of sustainability, including AMP Robotics, which is building 300-pound robots that can quickly sort the millions of tons of glass, plastic and paper sent out annually to recycling plants. There’s also Aurora Solar, whose platform uses computer vision to help solar companies more rapidly design systems for their customers, which helps accelerate solar projects at lower costs. Another standout on the list is FarmWise, which has developed an autonomous vegetable weeder that lets farmers maintain their fields using fewer herbicides.
You can check out the complete list of 50 companies here.
The Big Read
The Aussie Tech Billionaire Who Bet Big Against Coal, Making Enemies At Home And Admirers In The U.S.
Atlassian co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes is putting his money behind an effort to make Australia’s biggest power company stop spewing carbon. Read more here.
Discoveries And Innovations
New research suggests that California can get its electric grid to 85% clean energy by 2030 without sacrificing reliability.
Global average temperatures now have a roughly fifty-fifty chance of temporarily rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius beyond pre-industrial levels within five years, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization.
A group of engineers from MIT and the Technical University of Munich have developed a fuel cell that could use the sugar from a person’s body to power sensors and medical implants.
Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed a biodegradable coating that gives paper bags the waterproof qualities of plastic bags without sacrificing flexibility.
Sustainability Deals Of The Week
London-based Carbon Clean, which is developing point source carbon capture systems for heavy industry, announced Wednesday it raised a $150 million series C round led by Chevron.
San Francisco-based Brightseed just closed a $68 million series B round at a $300 million valuation. The company is using AI to find useful chemicals in plants that can be used for pharmaceuticals or other purposes.
Norwegian carbon capture company Aqualung just closed a $10 million equity round, aimed at growing its team and delivering its first commercial pilot project.
On The Horizon
Next week, the United Nations Sustainable Energy For All Forum will kick off in Kigali, Rwanda. According to the organizers, the forum “serves as a platform to broker new partnerships, spur investment, address challenges and drive action” towards transitioning to cleaner energy.
What Else We’re Reading This Week
Green Transportation Update
The electric vehicle revolution is far bigger than just Teslas and Ford’s electric pickup as the world’s top makers of heavy-duty trucks and powertrains including Navistar, Daimler, Cummins, Hyundai and Volvo also intend to shake up their industry with next-generation battery- and hydrogen-powered models that cut carbon and exhaust pollution. A stone’s throw from the sprawling Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, North America’s largest cargo container terminals, truckmakers and engine and energy companies packed the Long Beach Convention Center at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo this week to debut, display and test out dozens of electric semi and heavy-duty commercial truck models, many of which will first go into operation at those Southern California ports.
The Big Transportation Story
Tesla’s China Sales Take A Pounding As Covid Lockdown Drags On
Speaking of Tesla, the global leader in EVs is contending with headaches in China, the market that underpins its profitability. Elon Musk sought to downplay concerns about the electric-car maker’s operations in China after a three-week shutdown of its Shanghai plant but sales and production there are taking a hit for the time being. Read more here.