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Race to Net Zero

Your weekly CogX briefing on green tech and the future of energy
The week's developments in green tech & energy policy, explained | 06.01.24

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Power-hungry AI systems are causing headaches for US electricity providers as surging demand strains an already overburdened power infrastructure. While plans are underway to invest in cleaner energy generation for data centres, the colliding expansion of AI, EV production and chip manufacturing has had suppliers scrambling to satisfy demand — with some already turning to high-polluting fuels like coal.

Elsewhere, Japan is building a potentially infinite source of clean energy, a new catalyst will see cheaper, cleaner hydrogen production, and the UK’s new carbon capture project may not be as environmentally friendly as it seems…


We hope you enjoy these stories and more below.



CogX Must Reads

 


Top Stories


🤖 Hungry AI could make coal plants stick around in the US: In regions like Virginia's "data centre alley," rapid AI development is pushing electricity usage to new heights — but as energy suppliers scramble to satisfy demand, some may be turning to coal generation as a solution.

 

⚛️ World’s largest nuclear reactor is set to provide clean energy forever. The JT-60SA, part of the ITER project, aims to mimic the sun's energy production through fusion. It will offer a vast, clean energy source — without the radioactive waste of traditional nuclear fission. 



The cost of global damage from natural disasters


Plastic waste is projected to nearly triple by 2060, with around half of all plastic waste continuing to be dumped in landfills and less than 20% being recycled.




 

Climate Change


🪁 EU hits wind power construction record but misses climate target. The bloc built 17GW of new wind farms in 2023, the most in any year so far — but still shy of the estimated 37GW yearly pace needed to hit its 2030 renewable energy targets.


⚡️ Clean energy additions jumped 50% to 510GW in 2023, according to a new IEA report. This record renewable growth pace — if sustained — could put the world within striking distance of tripling clean energy capacity by the end of the decade.

 

Stat of the week 


A report last year revealed that by 2027 AI servers could use anywhere between 85 to


134 terawatt hours


of electricity each year. Roughly the amount of power used annually by a small country like the Netherlands. (The New York Times)


 

Green Tech



🌿 Breakthrough in cheap, green hydrogen production. Researchers have developed a novel catalyst, made of ruthenium, silicon, and tungsten, that outperforms traditional precious metal catalysts in durability, efficiency, and environmental impact.

 

💨 UK Government greenlights Drax's controversial carbon capture project. Whilst the project plans to target 8 million tons of negative emissions annually, it still faces criticism over its environmental impact and high costs to energy consumers.

 

👟 UK shoe manufacturer Vivobarefoot to launch a 3D-printed, compostable shoe. Partnering with material science company Balena, the company aims to revolutionise sustainable footwear using innovative biomimetic design and biodegradable materials.


✈️ Startups race to give captured carbon new life across industries. From carbon capturing perfumes to producing jet fuel, some of the most innovative startups are transforming CO2 into a variety of products.


 

 

 In case you missed it


Most fish farming is conducted in sea pens, a method laden with significant environmental challenges. But could land-based, high-tech aquaculture be the solution?




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