#11. 🇶🇦 Thousands in Qatar died from heat | 🇷🇴 Romania soon home to EU’s largest solar farm | 🚖 Cruise expands SF driverless taxi fleet
🌡 CLIMATE CHANGE
New projections reaffirm that by 2050, glaciers will be completely gone in Italy’s Dolomite mountains, Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, and, in the United States, California’s Yosemite and Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Parks. These forecasts are based on accelerated glacial retreat since 2000 and the associated acceleration in CO2 emissions.
A new report from USC highlights the seeming hypocrisy of liberal Hollywood’s failure to cast a more prominent light on the imminent dangers of global warming. While end-of-world storylines can be counterproductive, even just casual references, jokes, and general mentions can be profoundly impactful, and Hollywood has been often attributed with helping society at large overcome many generational stereotypes and prejudices such as homosexuality just by virtue of normalizing those issues.
This an exceptionally deep dive into the lethal impacts of extreme heat, underscoring a very real upper bound to human habitability in places like the Middle East which, due to the combination of high temperatures and humidity, are forecast to be effectively uninhabitable by 2100. In this case, “uninhabitable” is defined as guaranteed death outdoors within just a few hours even in optimal conditions (e.g., healthy, hydrated, properly dressed, etc).
🔋 CLEAN ENERGY
Rezolv Energy, a Romanian energy company, begins construction next year on a 1.6 million solar panel farm designed to produce 1.5 GWh per year, enough to power some 370,000 homes. Another recently announced project will see the development of 450 MW worth of onshore wind farms.
AWS Ocean Energy, a Scottish company, is testing a “submerged wave power buoy” 4 m (13.2 ft) in diameter and 7 m (23 ft) tall that can produce 10 kW of average power, and 80 kW at its peak. For comparison, a Tesla has between 70 kWh to 100 kWh battery packs. The plan is eventually to scale to platforms hosting up to 10 MW of these submersible wave generators, fulfilling the need for open sea electrical requirements.
Solid state batteries have been promised for years, offering drastically faster charge times, greater energy density, and lower prices. StoreDot, an Israeli company recognized as a leader in the space, has clarified their planned 3-phase rollout: silicon dominant XFC batteries which can charge 62 km (100 mi) in 5 minutes should be ready by 2024; semi-solid state batteries which can add 62 km in 3 minutes should be ready by 2028; and true, fully-solid state batteries which can add 62 km in just 2 minutes should be ready by 2032. For comparison, a high speed Telsa Supercharger might be able to add the same amount of range in about 7 minutes, assuming optimal charging conditions.
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🚗 AUTONOMOUS & ELECTRIC VEHICLES
Zeekr, another new Chinese EV company just one year old and owned by Geely, has launched its newest vehicle, a the 009. A large, hyper-luxurious cube-shaped people mover, it includes a massive 140 kWh battery pack that should enable to it reach 822 km (510 mi) of range; for comparison, a Tesla Model S Long Range Plus is rated at 663 km (412 mi). The 009 is also brimming with tech including two 7 nm Mobileye chips; even 8 MP HD cameras; four 2 MP surround-view cameras; one ultra-long-range mmWave radar; and 12 short-range ultrasonic radars. Interestingly, it does not include LiDAR.
After several years of testing on a limited portion of San Francisco’s desolate late night streets, Cruise has now expanded its driverless robotaxi service to cover nearly the entire city, albeit still during the late night and early morning hours when traffic is minimal.
Transport for London (TfL) has just launched 20 electric buses to run on the Crystal Palace - Orpington Line beginning from 2023 that can charge in just 10 minutes thanks to a combination of inverted pantograph overhead charging and depot-based charge points. TfL’s long-term plan is a fully electrified bus fleet by 2034, or, pending additional funding, perhaps 2030.