Autumn may have arrived with its annual bounty of golden leaves and buckets of rain, but the world of Green Tech is in its Spring and progressing at frantic pace in many markets. Make yourself a warming drink and relax with our summary of the stories that caught our eye in October…there’s a distinctly forward-looking feel to this one. Stay safe out there.
Lotus transformation continues with upgrades at Hethel
Lotus has revealed the latest upgrades to its Hethel site, set to drive a new era of success for Lotus Engineering, the carmaker’s consultancy division. A multimillion-pound investment will fund the installation of numerous state-of-the-art engineering test facilities to complement Lotus Cars’ new range of performance cars, slated to begin launching in 2021.
Improvements to the site include a new Electric Drive Unit test cell, upgrades to the Internal Combustion Engine test and development cells, the Propulsion Prototype build workshop and the vehicle emissions lab. Hethel’s famous test track has also been upgraded, with other additions including an all-new sports car factory and a new assembly hall for the Lotus Evija all-electric hypercar.
Fantastic news for Lotus Engineering, in its 40th year since incorporation!
Honda leaves F1 to focus on carbon-free territory
Honda will withdraw from F1 at the end of the 2021 season, leaving Red Bull to find a new engine partner. After mixed fortunes in the sport, the brand had a rejuvenated 2018 season as Toro Rosso’s engine supplier, also partnering with Red Bull in 2019, powering Max Verstappen to his best-ever season in F1.
Honda has prioritised striving for carbon neutrality by 2050 as a greater focus for its funding, describing the industry as undergoing a “once-in-a-hundred years period of great transformation”. The brand will “funnel its corporate resources in research and development into the areas of future power unit and energy technologies, including fuel cell vehicle and battery technologies…the core of carbon-free technologies.”
Honda is unlikely to withdraw from racing completely, though; it is known to be interested in Formula E, which would prove a good match for the brand’s likely trajectory.
Manufacturing & Technologies
Government’s ambitious plans for offshore wind farms
The government’s “build back greener” plans aim to see offshore wind producing enough electricity for every home in the UK by 2030. It is hoped the plans will create jobs, cut carbon emissions and provide a boost to exports.
£160m will be made available for ports and infrastructure upgrades in areas of the UK where offshore wind capacity can be increased, which could lead to lead to the creation of around 2,000 construction jobs and support up to 60,000 jobs directly and indirectly by 2030 in ports, factories and the supply chain. The Prime Minister describes the initiative as part of the UK’s drive towards net zero emissions by 2050.
Arrival ramps up development with more investment
Commercial electric vehicle company Arrival has raised $118m from funds, managed by new strategic financial investor BlackRock, to support its ramp-up of vehicle production through “microfactories”. The company’s next round of growth will include the launch of its first US factory in South Carolina.
Founded in 2015 and headquartered in the UK, Arrival’s scalable factories can be placed anywhere in the world to serve the regions they are located in, which, combined with in-house components, materials and software, creates a competitive production model with reduced shipping emissions and less upfront investment.
Arrival has already received an order of 10,000 electric vans from logistics company UPS, with the new US factory likely to begin operations in Q2 of 2021.
Tech Nation data shows UK leads Europe for AI investment
Tech Nation has reported that the UK’s AI investment totals $1.48bn for 2020 so far, putting it well ahead of the rest of Europe and third in the world for VC investment in AI after the US and China. The majority of AI investment so far this year flows into Big Data, TMT, SaaS and Fintech, with investment into Mobility Tech surpassing 2019 levels by 240% and Cyber Security by 10% thus far.
Demand for AI skills rose 111% between 2017 and 2019, with 25% of all Data Scientist roles advertised in 2019 requiring AI as a skill – the highest proportion seen amongst digital technology roles last year.
Tech Nation has announced a new AI programme, with 32 companies selected to join it, each applying AI to solve social problems from combating climate change to diagnosing cancer and tackling the spread of disinformation online.
Executive & Leaders
Dr Andy Palmer joins InoBat
Former Aston Martin CEO and Nissan Chief Planning Officer Dr Andy Palmer has joined Slovakian-based venture InoBat to develop the world’s first AI battery production centre. The facility will use AI to commercialise battery cells up to ten times faster than the most common processes seen in factories today.
InoBat is financed by a private equity consortium led by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Faysal Sohail. It plans to build an R&D centre by 2022 to refine its flexible processes and then make batteries on a low-volume production line, progressing to a Gigafactory on the same site in 2024.
Since leaving Aston Martin, Dr Palmer has started to work with a suite of high-tech start-ups mostly focused on the net-carbon-zero mobility. He says he was attracted to InoBat because, “instead of rushing to build a gigafactory like everyone else, its idea was to start small and to use AI to iterate lots of battery combinations to find the best chemistry for each application”. Watch this space.
STEM graduates needed for the green economy.
We love this article targeting the STEM graduates needed to play key roles in helping the UK achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. With the green jobs market growing fast, the Global Commission on the Future of Work expects to see 24m new jobs created by the green economy over the next 20 years.
Though STEM skills will be crucial to the green economy, so will the ability to communicate and translate ideas in a new world where different skills, functions and technologies will communicate across (and indeed eliminate) boundaries more than ever before.
The green economy will be hugely diverse, offering roles in areas as broad as corporate social responsibility and sustainability, social impact, international trade and development, sustainable finance and responsible investment, environmental, smart cities and food.