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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 | 08.06.24

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This week, ChatGPT creator OpenAI made headlines with news of their potential partnership with fusion energy startup Helios (a startup chaired by OpenAI's own CEO Sam Altman).  Fusion energy, often hailed as the holy grail of clean energy, could address the growing energy demands of AI. However, it's still unclear when, or even if, the technology will be ready in time to tackle the climate crisis.


Elsewhere, we cover UK’s cracking down on greenwashing, the scientist reinventing chocolate and the world's biggest solar farm. Plus, the startups tackling energy storage and converting waste into fuel. 


We hope you enjoy these stories and more below.

Top Stories

🤖 Open AI wants to buy ‘vast quantities’ of nuclear fusion energy to power superhuman AI. The company is reportedly in talks with Helion, a nuclear fusion startup chaired by OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman (who has recused himself from the talks due to a conflict of interest).

  • This potential deal isn't the only green energy avenue OpenAI is pursuing. Altman is also a backer of another startup focused on ultra-cheap solar power for data centres.

China opens world’s biggest solar farm with a 6.09 billion kWh annual capacity. Located in the sunny Xinjiang desert, this 200,000-acre solar plant can generate enough energy to power a small country for an entire year. 


💸 The UK is ready to crack down on greenwashing.  A new FCA rule will require banks to review everything from marketing materials to high-level corporate statements. 

  • This comes after criticism of banks like Barclays for promoting "sustainable" financial products without supporting any green commitments.

🇪🇺 Europe is projected to invest more in clean energy than the US in 2024, but both regions are dwarfed by China's massive spending. This is according to a new report by the IEA.

Chart of the Week

More startups are measuring their carbon footprint, new data from ESG_VC shows. The percentage jumped by 12% in 2023, while the number of companies targeting net zero goals and implementing carbon offsetting tools also increased by 3%.

Climate Change

🛳️ The popularity of superyachts is soaring, but so is their environmental impact. The number of superyachts has quadrupled in the past 30 years, making them a growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.


🌊 Oceans face ‘triple threat’ of extreme heat, oxygen loss and acidification. New research reveals a significant increase in the intensity and duration of these threats, particularly in the last few decades.


🍫 Scientists develop method of making healthier, more sustainable chocolate. Their new approach uses the leftover pulp and husk of the cocoa pod (usually discarded) to create a sweet, fibrous gel that replaces sugar.


💼 Chief sustainability officers are struggling to find their footing. A new survey reveals that only a third of CSOs have direct access to their CEO.



Stat of the week 

How power-hungry is AI? Some estimates suggest that by 2027 the AI sector could consume between

85 to 134 terawatt hours

each year. That’s about the same as the annual energy demand of a small country like the Netherlands.


Green Tech

🏢 Are skyscrapers the future of battery storage? The architects behind Dubai’s 828-metre Burj Khalifa are exploring ways to transform skyscrapers into giant gravity-powered batteries


🛢️ Dutch startup, BioBTX, secured €80 million to transform plastic waste into hydrocarbons. By using plastic waste as a resource, BioBTX aims to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and slash greenhouse gas emissions.


🔋 Seven energy storage startups to watch: From liquid metal to flywheel and thermal energy storage solutions, some of the most innovative startups in the space are exploring entirely new ways of storing excess power. Here are the seven top startups to watch according to investors.



In case you missed it

“If given a chance, nature can rebound, and nature can rebound dramatically.” says biologist Sean B. Carroll, emphasising nature's resilience and the role humans can play in supporting its revival.

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