• Hydrogen plane start-up receives massive taxpayer investment

    Aviation start-up ZeroAvia has secured $116m (£92m) from backers including the UK Infrastructure Bank (UKIB) to help the firm build its first engines and advance its R&D efforts.

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  • China’s Belt and Road Initiative pivots to renewables and away from fossil fuels

    China’s Belt and Road Initiative pivots to renewables and away from fossil fuels

    The Chinese government launched the controversial initiative in 2013, which aims to develop large-scale infrastructure in foreign countries in an effort to enhance its economic influence globally, as well as to address domestic overcapacity issues by exporting excess industrial capacity. It has faced both praise and criticism, with supporters arguing that it can promote economic development and connectivity among participating countries, while critics raise concerns about debt sustainability, environmental impact and the geopolitical implications of China’s increased influence. The report from Wood Mackenzie, Belt & Road at 10: powering on through growing pains, found that overseas power projects built by Chinese companies now amount to an estimated investment value of around $200bn (£160bn…

  • Domestic EV manufacturing faces roadblock due to ‘gigafactory gap’, MPs warn

    Domestic EV manufacturing faces roadblock due to ‘gigafactory gap’, MPs warn

    The UK faces a huge “gigafactory gap”, with less battery production capacity than needed for the nation’s future needs, according to a report from the cross-party Business and Trade Select Committee. If the gap is not plugged, the committee says, automotive production in the UK could decline, putting hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk. Using low-carbon energy sources, the UK could become a major centre for “midstream” refining processes for critical materials such as lithium. Doing so would establish the UK as a “frontrunner” in building sustainable and ethical batteries, compared with those from China and European countries, the report found. Currently, China accounts for 78 per cent of the world’s cathode production, and its dominance over large parts of the battery supply chain…

  • UK-built satellite to help monitor climate change from space

    UK-built satellite to help monitor climate change from space

    The UK Space Agency (UKSA) is providing £3m to support the build of the new pathfinder satellite – intended to be one of the first in the Atlantic Constellation project – with co-funding from Open Cosmos, based at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.  This Constellation will consist of 16 satellites equipped with Earth observation and telecommunications payloads. Once operational, it will provide observations every three hours, which help to provide forewarning of upcoming natural disasters alongside broader climate monitoring. The satellite, which will be built in the UK, will be of the same design and launched in the same orbital plane as three others from Portugal, becoming the first batch sent up for the Constellation. Science minister Andrew Griffith said: “Earth…

  • Government earmarks £960m to boost clean energy usage in manufacturing

    Government earmarks £960m to boost clean energy usage in manufacturing

    The government has earmarked £960m for clean energy manufacturing projects as part of a wider £4.5bn package designed to bolster the UK’s manufacturing sector. The announcement of the investment, called the Green Industries Growth Accelerator, comes after the steel sector urged the government to reduce industrial electricity prices in the wake of moves to shift production processes away from fossil fuels like coal towards carbon-neutral options powered by green energy. The manufacturing sector makes up over 43 per cent of all UK exports and employs around 2.6 million people. But from next year, carbon-intensive industries such as steelmaking and car production will be forced to gradually reduce their emissions at the rate needed for the UK to reach net zero goals. Sectors such as North…

  • National Trust says climate change threatens 70 per cent of historic buildings

    National Trust says climate change threatens 70 per cent of historic buildings

    The body said that without “urgent and large-scale action” on addressing climate change, more than 70 per cent of its 500 historic properties will be at medium or high risk of climate-related hazards by 2060. It launched a Climate Change Hazard Map in 2021 to improve understanding of risks such as flooding and coastal erosion for its properties. New layers have now been added to the map that allow regional teams to flag localised threats posed by climate change. In the report, A climate for change: adaptation and the National Trust, the body says it faces various short-term risks including flooding, wildfires, drought and coastal erosion. In the long term, it also wants to plan for extreme weather events that will threaten wildlife habitats and increase humidity, which will make it more…

  • COMSOL Releases Version 6.2 of COMSOL Multiphysics

    COMSOL Releases Version 6.2 of COMSOL Multiphysics

    It also features high-performance multiphysics solvers for the analysis of electric motors, up to 40 per cent faster turbulent CFD simulations and an order of magnitude faster impulse response calculations for room and cabin acoustics. Additionally, it is now up to 7 times faster to perform boundary element analysis (BEM) for acoustics and electromagnetics when running on clusters. Turbulent flow simulations are now up to 40 per cent faster, showcased here by high-Mach-number flow through a ramjet nozzle. /COMSOL Image credit: COMSOL Effective Simulation Apps and Digital Twins Surrogate models deliver accurate simulation results much faster than the full-fledged finite element models that they approximate. When used in simulation apps, this leads to near-instantaneous…

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  • Growth in UK’s science sector hampered by lack of lab space, report suggests

    Growth in UK’s science sector hampered by lack of lab space, report suggests

    According to the study from British Land and Savills, there is a “severe shortage” of real estate space available to accommodate both current and predicted demand, with vacancy rates for fitted lab space just one per cent in Cambridge and London and seven per cent in Oxford. It also found that if the life sciences markets matched the growth seen in the US, by 2035, it would generate 67,000 more jobs and lead to a £4bn economic boost. In March, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised to help make the UK a science and technology superpower by the end of the decade, with various investments in upcoming technologies such as AI. The report comes just days ahead of the Autumn Budget and calls on the government to implement “ambitious growth targets” for the sector, including growing its gross value…

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  • UAE opens giant solar plant in Abu Dhabi desert

    UAE opens giant solar plant in Abu Dhabi desert

    Abu Dhabi has inaugurated one of the world’s largest solar projects ahead of the COP28 climate conference, which will be hosted by the UAE. The two-gigawatt Al Dhafra plant is expected to power 200,000 homes and reduce Abu Dhabi’s carbon dioxide emissions by more than 2.4 million tonnes a year – equivalent to removing about 470,000 cars from the road. The plant utilises about four million solar panels with bi-facial technology that captures sunlight on both sides for maximum yield, officials said.  The project will raise Abu Dhabi’s solar power production capacity to 3.2 gigawatts. “As the UAE prepares to host Cop28, this pioneering project reflects the country’s ongoing commitment to raising its share of clean energy, reducing its carbon emissions and supporting the global efforts…

  • Hydrogen-powered aircraft to beam down 5G from above in new trial

    Hydrogen-powered aircraft to beam down 5G from above in new trial

    The goal of the project is to deliver an unmanned, liquid hydrogen-powered aircraft, designed with a 56-metre wingspan that will be able to fly for over a week due to its lightweight structure. Aircraft manufacturer Britten-Norman will be providing key design and trial support for the project, with Marshall Futureworx providing technology for cooling systems. The contract will see SPL’s 5G tech integrated into a Britten-Norman Islander, with flight trials due to begin in July 2024. The turbine-powered aircraft, which is a variant of Britten-Norman’s BN2T-4S Islander, has been selected for the programme due to its performance and payload capacity and the ease with which it can be modified to accommodate the equipment. The trial will be conducted under test conditions mandated by the Civil…

  • China's Alibaba cancels cloud spin-off blaming US chip curbs

    China's Alibaba cancels cloud spin-off blaming US chip curbs

    In a surprising U-turn, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has revealed it will no longer go ahead with a plan to split its cloud service unit from the main business and take it public.  The announcement resulted in the company's shares dropping 10 per cent, removing $20bn (£16bn) from Alibaba’s market value. Alibaba said the decision was a result of the restrictions imposed by US curbs on Chinese exports of semiconductor technology used in artificial intelligence (AI) applications, which the company said could make it harder to  upgrade its existing hardware. “We believe that these new restrictions may materially and adversely affect Cloud Intelligence Group’s ability to offer products and services and to perform under existing contracts, thereby negatively affecting our results of operations…

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  • Nepal bans TikTok, accusing the app of ‘disrupting social harmony’

    Nepal bans TikTok, accusing the app of ‘disrupting social harmony’

    It has joined the list of countries that have decided to restrict the use of the video-sharing platform, owned by China’s ByteDance , claiming it negatively impacts the country ’ s familiar structures. Nepal made the decision following a cabinet meeting earlier this week. The country had previously expressed concerns about the content shared on the social media platform. It had asked TikTok to register and open a liaison office in Nepal, pay taxes and abide by the country’s laws and regulations. It was unclear whether the decision to ban TikTok was prompted by the company’s refusal to comply with these requests. In a public statement, the government said the ban was carried out to protect Nepal’s population from harmful content.  “The government has decided to ban TikTok as it was necessary…

  • £8.3bn in redirected HS2 funds to be spent on fixing UK’s pothole backlog

    £8.3bn in redirected HS2 funds to be spent on fixing UK’s pothole backlog

    Last month, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed that the proposed rail connection between Birmingham and Manchester had been scrapped, and the money saved would be used to fund local transport projects. £8.3bn of that funding will now be used to resurface over 5,000 miles of road across the country, which could save motorists up to £440 on vehicle repairs on average, according to the DfT. A study from earlier this year found that the government had been neglecting to properly fund road repairs, with the number of miles of road resurfaced or given life-extending treatment falling to its lowest point in five years. Across England, local highway authorities will receive £150m this financial year, followed by a further £150m for 2024/2025, with the rest of the funding allocated through to…

  • Europe to impose curbs on methane emissions

    Europe to impose curbs on methane emissions

    The EU is set to pass its first-ever methane regulation. The law will require  fossil fuel firms to measure and report their methane emissions and to regularly check their sites for leaks of the powerful greenhouse gas. It will also outlaw most cases of flaring and venting by 2027.  “This first-of-its-kind regulation enables the EU to curb methane emissions in a cost-effective manner, and address venting and flaring of gas, which make economically and environmentally little sense,” said Kadri Simson, EU commissioner for energy. “This will benefit our planet and will also avoid wasted resources in tight global gas markets.” After carbon dioxide, methane is the biggest greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. It has more than 80 times the warming potential of CO2 over two decades and…

  • Steel industry urges government to cut electricity prices to stay competitive

    Steel industry urges government to cut electricity prices to stay competitive

    Trade body UK Steel has launched a report that finds a “vast chasm” between UK energy prices for industry and those in Europe. It found that steelmakers in the UK pay nearly two times as much as those in Germany and France, partly due to higher grid connection costs in the UK. China has also been accused of dumping cheap steel on the global market to beat out competitors. Steel production’s energy-intensive nature leads to high electricity consumption, and these costs can represent up to 180 per cent of steel producers’ gross value added (GVA) in the UK. The warning comes just two months after Port Talbot, which is owned by Tata Steel, announced as many as 3,000 job losses, as well as a plan to transition to producing low-carbon steel with electric arc furnaces. The switch to electric…

  • UK to pay 66 per cent more for offshore wind energy after failed auction

    UK to pay 66 per cent more for offshore wind energy after failed auction

    Contracts for Difference (CFD) auctions invite companies to bid to develop renewable energy projects in the UK and give them a guaranteed minimum price for the electricity they will generate. The system also means that if electricity prices in the future rise above that level, the companies pay the excess back to the treasury. The last auction in September attracted no developers, with the industry saying that the government had set the price too low to make new projects worth pursuing. Industry experts had warned that this might be the case after ministers refused to increase the maximum price, despite a 40 per cent rise in the cost of manufacturing and installing turbines. The maximum strike price has now been increased by 66 per cent for offshore wind projects, from £44/MWh to £73…

  • Microsoft launches custom AI silicon chips

    Microsoft launches custom AI silicon chips

    Microsoft is following in the footsteps of its rivals and jumping into the production of homegrown artificial intelligence (AI) semiconductors for its cloud infrastructure.  The company also announced new software that lets clients design their own AI assistants. The two new chips are named Azure Maia 100 and Cobalt 100. The company said it has no plans to sell the chips, which it intends to use to power its own subscription software offerings and as part of its Azure cloud computing service. The two models are expected to debut in some Microsoft data centres at the start of 2024. The Maia 100 chip is said to provide Microsoft Azure cloud customers with a new way to develop and run large language models that power AI applications. The company is already testing the chip with its Bing…

  • Climate engineering could slow down the melting of Antarctic ice sheets

    Climate engineering could slow down the melting of Antarctic ice sheets

    A team of researchers at Indiana University have looked at how climate engineering could be leveraged to protect Antarctica from melting and  reduce the risk of catastrophic sea-level rise. The study focused on stratospheric aerosol injection, a form of engineering in which large amounts of tiny sulfur droplets are released into the stratosphere by a fleet of aeroplanes. The method has been proposed as a potential strategy to keep global warming at bay. “Even if the world meets the ambitious target of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels – which we are not on track to do – we are going to see significant sea-level rise,” said Paul Goddard, an assistant research scientist and co-author of the study. “Exploring ways to reflect sunlight into space before it is absorbed…

  • DeepMind’s AI accurately forecasts weather in under a minute

    DeepMind’s AI accurately forecasts weather in under a minute

    The weather forecasting AI algorithm developed by Google’s DeepMind, known as GraphCast, has outperformed the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) model on more than 90 per cent of 1,380 metrics, including temperature, pressure, wind speed and direction, and humidity at different levels of the atmosphere. The machine-learning model takes less than a minute to make 10-day weather forecasts worldwide on a desktop computer, and is more precise than other approaches. “GraphCast currently is leading the race among the AI models,” said computer scientist Aditya Grover at the University of California, Los Angeles. Traditional weather forecasts use numerical weather prediction (NWP), which uses mathematical models based on physical principles. These tools rely on data from…

    E+T Magazine
  • US and China to back new global renewables target

    US and China to back new global renewables target

    The US and China will back a new global renewables target and work together to reduce methane emissions and plastic pollution. The announcement comes in advance of a meeting between the leaders of the two nations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit later this week, and the COP28 global climate conference in late November.  In a joint statement, they declared the climate crisis “one of the greatest challenges of our time” and stressed their commitment to meeting the target established by the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, which aimed to limit the increase of global temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. To achieve this, the two countries said they would accelerate renewable energy deployment in their economies until the end of 2030 to speed up the substitution for…

  • Schoolgirls design the kit for the Moon’s first football team

    Schoolgirls design the kit for the Moon’s first football team

    England Lioness and Women’s Euro 2022 winner Beth England, of Tottenham Hotspur, has unveiled the first official Moon United kit, designed by two talented schoolgirls.  Erim Ali, 13, and Ishaani Nair, 7, were the winners of the competition hosted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), which asked school children aged 4 to 13 to design home and away kits for the lunar footballers of the future. The challenge was posed following a campaign in which engineers predicted humans could be playing a competitive game of football on the moon as early as 2035. The competition aimed to challenge outdated perceptions of engineering and showing children how they could combine a passion for football and space with a STEM-related career. Being chosen from over 500 entries, Erim and Ishaani…

  • UK to loosen restrictions to register new chemical products

    UK to loosen restrictions to register new chemical products

    The UK has published a policy paper establishing its progress on the development of new chemical regulations that are expected to replace the European Union (EU) standards post-Brexit, known as UK Reach. However, experts have expressed concerns that the new rules would expose citizens to potentially dangerous substances. The government’s new plans will aim to reduce the “hazard” information that chemical companies must provide to register substances in the UK to an “irreducible minimum” in a bid to reduce business costs. The UK has not been part of the EU’s chemicals regulations since 202 1 . However, the country has yet to introduce its own version of the Reach system. The delays were mainly attributed to a government impact assessment that found that the cost of duplicating the safety…

  • Iceland to impose new property tax to pay for lava barriers following earthquake swarm

    Iceland to impose new property tax to pay for lava barriers following earthquake swarm

    Icelandic officials are preparing for a possible volcanic eruption following a “seismic swarm” that has seen the Reykjanes Peninsula be hit by about 1,400 earthquakes in 24 hours.  As part of the nation’s efforts to protect its infrastructure from geothermal activity, Iceland has passed a new law that establishes a tax of 0.08 per cent of a property’s fire insurance valuation on all homes for a reported duration of three years. The bill is expected to raise almost 1bn ISK (£5.7m) in revenue, which will fund the construction of lava barriers and other protections – including dikes, embankments and canals – around Svartsengi, a geothermal power station 65km from the capital Reykjavík. The power station is the main supplier of water and electricity to the Reykjanes Peninsula – the same region…

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  • China’s carbon emissions set to decrease from 2024

    China’s carbon emissions set to decrease from 2024

    China’s carbon emissions are set to fall in 2024, according to new analysis for Carbon Brief.  The country – the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter – is projected to account for 45 per cent of global CO2 emissions between 2023 and 2050. China has recently witnessed an increase in its CO2 emissions of 4.7 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2023. Scientists have interpreted this surge as a rebound from the nation’s ‘zero-Covid’ period. They have predicted that the country’s emissions will reach a peak this year, before beginning a structural decline from 2024.  China is aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 . As part of this effort, the country has made significant investments in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. The country met its solar and wind installation…