LINKS OF THE WEEK - Oct 22-28, 2023
The unstoppability of the world's transition to renewables, developments in green steel, a cool-sounding battery "upcycler," seaweed-eating sheep, and spooooores in styyyyyyyyle!
Hello, you awesome person!
I'm still playing catch-up from my trip to Micromobility America and eyeballs-deep in writing part 2 of my recap of that experience, which I'm hoping to finish and send out in the next couple of days. That's why I'm posting these links just a wee bit late. 😅
I hope you enjoy them! As always, interesting and potentially game-changing news is coming out about the global shift to renewables, decarbonizing industry, advancements in battery recycling and biomaterials, and so much more.
WORLD SHIFT TO CLEAN ENERGY IS UNSTOPPABLE BUT STILL NOT FAST ENOUGH TO AVOID +1.5C, IEA REPORT SAYS
Check out this International Energy Agency report that came out last month, saying that the transition to clean energy is now unstoppable and that by 2030 50% of the world’s electricity will come from renewables. It’s not all good news, though – the report also said that current emission levels are still too high to prevent temperatures rising above 1.5C – and if we want to have any hope of reversing that, we need to cut investment in fossil fuels in half, like, yesterday.
URUGUAY HAS BEEN RUNNING ON 100% RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY FOR 4 MONTHS
According to this Progress Playbook article, Uruguay has been running on 100% renewables for four straight months now – cutting its production costs in half, creating 50,000 new jobs, and becoming a net exporter of electricity in the process. Sweet! I know Uruguay is a small country, with only 3.5 million people, and that its electricity needs are smaller than most countries in the global north. (And that fossil fuels are still largely being used for transportation there.) But I still think 3.5 million people no longer relying on fossil fuels for their electricity is something to celebrate. 🎉
GREEN STEEL IS COMING (AND THE EU IS WINNING THE RACE)
Please enjoy this Wall Street Journal article in which the author seems to be low-key freaking out over the idea that the EU is making much faster progress on creating green steel than the U.S. is. The article says Europe is expected to have nearly 50 low-carbon steel projects by 2030 – while only 2 are currently planned for the U.S.
I’ve seen a couple of articles recently talking about “electrowinning.” It’s an electrochemical process that pulls pure iron from iron ores without having to heat them to extreme temperatures. This could be awesome as the high-temperature iron refining process currently used is responsible for 90% of the emissions that come from steel production, according to this Canary Media article. If this elecrowinning process can be scaled, sounds like it could play a huge role in helping the steel industry decarbonize.
AN AI-POWERED BATTERY “UPCYCLING MACHINE” THAT SAVES USABLE COMPONENTS FROM SHREDDERS
According to this Tech Crunch story, when a battery reaches its “end of life,” more than 80% of the cells in that battery still work perfectly well. To combat unnecessary battery waste, a new startup has created an AI-powered battery "upcycler" that can diagnose the usability of a battery’s cells in seconds and then dismantle it to save what works before sending the rest to get shredded. Less battery waste = fewer emissions and smaller environmental impact, so here’s hoping this upcycler lives up to the claims.
(Sorry but I can’t help but read this title in the style of the Muppets’ “Pigs in Space.” 😆😬)
Check out this cool Grazia Magazine article on how mushroom-based biomaterials are being created for use in the fashion world. I’m so curious to see if and how this industry develops. These fabrics supposedly require less energy and fewer resources to make than materials such as cow leather, cotton, nylon, or polyester, and cause less pollution and emissions to boot. I'll be watching that new MycoWorks facility in South Carolina with great interest.
GENERATING CLEAN ELECTRICITY FROM… CHICKEN FEATHERS?
This technology isn’t as exciting as it sounds, sadly – BUT it is another example of a valuable source of biomaterials that we've been just tossing away or burning instead of making better use of it. The more I look into the topic of sustainability, the more amazed I am at how much usable resources we just… throw away. Even energy! Especially heat energy – we create SO much of it and don’t do anything with it, when it can easily be recaptured and reused.
But I digress – back to the chicken feathers!
I’ve just finished reading Vincent Doumeizel’s new book, The Seaweed Revolution and hoo boy do I have something to say about it. Stay tuned for more on that – I've got to get part 2 of my Micromobility America recap finished first. (Soon, my pretty!)
In the meantime, please enjoy this story (that Doumeizel mentions in his book) about the sheep who live in Scotland’s Orkney Islands and have evolved to eat primarily seaweed. Their meat apparently has a rich gamey flavour and people say their wool is excellent. And scientists have discovered the seaweed inhibits microorganisms within the sheep's digestive systems from producing methane, a harmful greenhouse gas with 80 times the warming effects of carbon dioxide. These sheep are what gave researchers the idea of feeding seaweed to cattle and other livestock in an attempt to reduce agricultural methane emissions. Not baa-aa-aa-aad! (I'm so sorry – couldn’t resist.)
That's it for this week! (Or last week, I should say. 😆) Stay tuned for part 2 of my Micromobility America recap as well as this week's Links of the Week, which I'm hoping to get out on Monday at the latest.