Climate tech roundup: From solar to CES, this week had something for everyone


Hello climate tech readers! Even without a landmark merger announcement this week, there’s plenty happening in the world of climate technology that’s worth catching up on. From huge investments in solar power to vegetable steaks and small, modular batteries to power your home, there’s something for everyone. Let’s dive in.

Image Credits: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Last year was jam-packed with battery manufacturers and automakers announcing one gigafactory after another. If this week’s announcement is anything to go by, 2023 could be the year the U.S. solar industry sees some serious growth.

On Wednesday, Hanwha Qcells, a major Korean manufacturer, announced it would spend $2.5 billion in Georgia to expand an existing factory and build an all-new campus that could handle almost anything in the solar panel supply chain, from silicon rods to finished panels. The move was spurred by the Inflation Reduction Act, which offers investment and manufacturing tax credits that should cover about half the cost of a finished panel, negating some of China’s cost advantage.

This isn’t the first time the US has attempted to bolster homegrown solar power. But unlike a decade ago, when dozens of companies went bankrupt due to weak demand, cheap Chinese panels and the Great Recession, things could be different this time.

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A sign from Caterpillar at CES 2023 reads: "COME TO A BETTER WORLD WITH US."

Image Credits: Harry Weber for TBEN

TBEN’s Harri Weber made the trip to CES this year, and she saw a lot of climate tech at the massive show, which has moved far beyond VR headsets and home automation (although that’s still there, too). From smart hoses and sprinklers to minimize water use to home energy systems, there was plenty to be optimistic about – although there was also some AstroTurf, both on the show floor and in what was on offer in the booths.

Project Eaden plant-based meat alternative

Image credits: Project Eden

Plant-based meats have had a rough few months, hammering market leaders. But not everyone is bearish on the sector. Project Eaden showed why this week, adding €2.1 million in funding to an existing launch round.

The Berlin-based startup uses plant-based protein fibers to spin cuts of alternative meat with a texture much closer to the real thing. Project Eaden has just over €10 million in funding to refine its technology, and it plans to build a production-scale plant in the future.

Blue flames burn on a gas stove.

Image Credits: Daniele Carotenuto Photography / Getty Images

It’s no secret that gas stoves are bad for your health – the number of asthma cases in households with gas stoves is significantly higher than in those without. They are also not good for the climate. While their emissions footprint is small, they allowed the aging gas companies to keep their feet in the door, making it easier for homeowners to keep their fossil fuel systems running long after they should.

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But why are we talking about gas stoves this week? US Consumer Product Safety Commission Rich Trumka Jr. commented on how they pose a “hidden danger” and that “every option is on the table” if the industry doesn’t figure out how to clean up its act. Well, that brought out the wolves. Right-wing politicians clung to Trumka’s statement, hoping to create a new focal point in the ongoing culture wars. However, that can backfire, like gas-hungry, induction-curious consumers investigate the matter yourself.

John Deere earthmoving machine with large front bucket

Image Credits: John Deere

The right-to-repair movement took a hit this week when John Deere signed a memorandum of understanding with the American Farm Bureau Federation that would provide access to tools and repair information farmers and other operators need to address the increasingly solve more complex business problems. equipment without the intervention of the manufacturer.

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For farmers and independent repair shops, however, it’s not a perfect deal, as Deere said it would still withhold “trade secrets, proprietary or confidential information.” But given that Deere has long resisted requests for repairs, this is probably welcome news for farmers, operators and independent shops. And it will likely help keep properly working equipment in the field longer.

Image Credits: Yoshino (Opens in a new window)

It happens: batteries are taking over. I’ve long expected that the massive amount of R&D and manufacturing capacity brought about by the shift to electric vehicles would spill over to transform countless other industries. If this year’s CES is anything to go by, we’ve reached a turning point.

TBEN’s Haje Jan Kamps was impressed by the number and diversity of battery-based home power solutions at this year’s show. Many were stackable. You could drive one around your house like a 100-pound wagon. Another carried like a milk crate. And yet another plugs into a whole-home system with a solar inverter, smart switch panel, EV chargers, and more. If you don’t already have a battery in your house, you could in the next five years if this CES was anything to go by.