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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 | 15.06.24

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This week, a report reveals the environmental impact of war, with Russia's invasion of Ukraine generating 175 million tonnes of CO2 in two years, surpassing the annual emissions of several countries. Elsewhere, we discuss the growing global energy access gap, with 685 million people lacking electricity, and the increasing energy demand from AI, projected to more than double by 2026


On the innovation front, new concrete technology is turning homes into batteries and roads into chargers, and algae emerges as a zero-emission renewable power source that ALSO removes CO2 from the atmosphere.


We hope you enjoy these stories and more below.

Top Stories

🌍 Global energy access gap widens: 685 million without electricity. A new report reveals a rising number of people are without electricity, and nearly 2.1 billion still use harmful cooking fuels, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. 


🤖 AI is fueling a boom in data centres and energy demand. genAI's rapid growth is driving a significant increase in energy consumption, with global data centre electricity demand expected to more than double by 2026, according to the IEA. 


🔌 Ukraine strikes deal for US gas to reduce Russian energy influence. Ukraine has signed a landmark agreement with Venture Global to receive liquefied natural gas, aiming to bolster its energy security and diminish Russia's dominance in Eastern Europe. 

⚡ Households will be paid to use more electricity, under National Grid’s new net zero plans. The "demand flexibility" service, initially launched to prevent winter blackouts, will now operate year-round, encouraging energy use when renewable supply is high.

Chart of the Week

This report is the most comprehensive analysis of the climate cost of any conflict – and the first time reparations have been calculated for war-related climate impacts.

Climate Change

🌪️ Is climate change impacting turbulence? Research suggests yes, but this doesn’t necessarily mean more bumpy flights for passengers, as airlines and weather forecasters are improving their ability to predict and avoid rough skies.


🌍 Climate dealmakers brace for showdown at COP29. This year’s UN climate summit will focus on raising trillions in finance for vulnerable countries and determining China's role in these efforts. Developing nations are pushing for substantial funding.


🌩️ A Quantum leap in weather prediction. Researchers have developed an algorithm, using quantum computers, to advance numerical weather prediction systems, enabling more accurate forecasts faster and more efficiently.


🎶 Outdoor concerts need new safety measures. Climate change is intensifying extreme weather, leading to incidents like heat-related deaths at concerts. Venues and organisers must adopt detailed emergency plans to protect fans from heat, storms, and crowd hazards.



Stat of the week 

The environmental impact of war: Russia’s invasion on Ukraine has has generated at least 

175m tonnes of CO2 Equivalent

In two years. This is on a par with running 90m petrol cars for an entire year – and more than the total emissions generated individually by countries including the Netherlands, Venezuela and Kuwait in 2022.


Green Tech

🏠 New concrete turns homes into giant batteries. Researchers have developed a new type of concrete that acts as a supercapacitor, storing and discharging electricity efficiently, transforming homes into giant batteries and roads into wireless chargers for electric cars.


💧 British Gas owner backs £300m 'Liquid Air' energy project, investing £70m. This novel technology compresses and cools air to -200C, storing it in insulated tanks to generate power on demand, supporting the UK's shift to renewable energy sources.


🌿 Algae = the new renewable electricity source? Researchers have developed a method to harness energy from algae's photosynthesis, creating a zero-emission power source that also removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 


🔋 Unigrid are making batteries cheaper and safer using sodium. Backed by a $12 million Series A funding, Unigrid plans to target energy storage for buildings and light EVs in warm climates, aiming to bring its innovative batteries to market within five years.



In case you missed it

The Philippines are moving back to nuclear energy, here’s why

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