Solar energy from space, Tesla misses expectations and new electric cars for 2023

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In the short story “Reason” from 1941 science fiction writer Isaac Asimov described a future in which electricity was generated in space and then beamed down to Earth1. It took nearly three decades for engineers to first describe a workable way to potentially make such an orbiting power plant work. This week, nearly 50 years after the first engineering proposal and more than 80 years after the short story, CalTech took a big step toward making that science-fiction idea a reality: On Tuesday, the experimental solar-powered satellite in orbit was launched into orbit. The project is supported by over 100 million dollars in donations from real estate billionaire Donald Bren.

This prototype of the satellite will be able to start its first tests within a few weeks. It consists of a test modular component that could be the basis for building larger solar power plants in orbit, 32 different types of solar cells to test which type might be best to use in space and a microwave array to test radiant power to the Earth’s surface. If the technology pans out, it could help address one of the biggest limitations of solar power: in orbit, you can arrange things so that it’s rarely nighttime. .

“Whatever happens, this prototype is a big step forward,” Ali Hajimiri, a co-director of the project, said in a press release. “It works here on Earth and has passed the rigorous steps required of anything launched into space. There are still many risks, but going through the whole process has taught us valuable lessons. We believe that the space experiments will give us much more useful information that will guide the project as we continue to move forward.”

1 In the story, the robots that maintained the power station also ended up developing a religion where they worshiped it, so keep an eye on ChatGPT’s spiritual leanings as the training data grows to include information about the project’s successful launch.


The big read

Renewable energy saw a growth of $500 billion in government investment by 2022

The International Energy Agency reported that global public spending to support clean energy increased by more than $500 billion since March, and a flurry of policies emerged to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Read 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 honey bees.

Family farms around the country have adopted it food waste to generate electricity for their business.

ONE Property development in Florida contains 86 homes that can stay powered for weeks even when cut off from the grid thanks to solar power and good engineering.


This week’s sustainability offer

Next generation batteries: West Virginia will soon be home to a new factory owned by Form Energy, which has created a next-generation battery made of cheap materials like iron, water and oxygen.

Online battery recycling: Nevada-based Aqua Metals announced that its lithium battery recycling facility is now operational and expects the first products to hit the market in the first quarter of this year.

Deep Tech: The University of Chicago has launched Polsky Deep Tech Ventures, a $20 million initiative to develop companies built on cutting-edge science, including an accelerator devoted to clean-tech startups.


On the horizon

Despite potential economic downturnsanalysts expect investment in the cleantech sector to continue to grow in 2023 and beyond, with Pitchbook estimating the total size of the market to be around $1.4 trillion over the next five years.


What else are we reading this week

The Year Ahead in Energy (Gizmodo)

Will Brazilian President Lula keep his climate promises? (Nature)

Will global emissions plateau in 2023? Four Trends to Watch (Scientific American)



Green transport update

Tesla got off to a great start in 2022, increasing production at the factory in Shanghai and opening new Gigafactories early this year in Berlin and Austin. But as the months passed, things began to change, not just because of the ongoing chaos following CEO Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter. And 2023 doesn’t look good so far. The world’s leading EV brand reported fourth-quarter delivery figures this week that missed analysts’ expectations, which had already been scaled back. With increasingly tough competition in the EV market, both in North America and China, Tesla’s stated goal of increasing sales by 50% annually looks increasingly unlikely even as overall sales of battery-powered cars and trucks increase across the board.


The great history of transport

Plug in, turn on: The hottest new electric vehicles coming in 2023

An impressive lineup of electric cars, trucks, and SUVs will debut during 2023 with impressive styling and extended operating ranges that should help boost sales exponentially—perhaps even dramatically—among a growing collection of EV enthusiasts. Here’s a quick look at 19 brand new models headed to dealer showrooms in the coming months.

Read more here.



More green transport news

Tesla stock sinks to 29-month low – but analyst says it remains on ‘right’ track

Transport trends in 2023 that may affect future transport

67% of Islington households have no motor vehicle, 2021 census reveals

The expensive and harmful truth about electric vehicles

EV tax credits have changed, but would loans make more sense?

Warren Buffett-backed BYD’s EV sales rise to monthly record in December

Should the Megajoule replace the kWh as our unit of EV energy? listen to me


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