COP27, Battery Manufacturing & Other Recent Energy News Trends
A look at the energy news from PR Newswire in November and December that you might have missed.
(Note: This is an edited version of a blog post originally published on prnewswire.com. Read the original for more.)
To help you stay caught up on the latest energy news, our team monitored the more than 2,000 energy-related press releases that were sent via PR Newswire in November and December 2022. We noticed a few recurring themes.
With continued unease surrounding global energy security, governments, businesses, and consumers are all thinking about ways to make the energy economy more resilient, efficient, and sustainable.
The UN’s COP27 took place in November and resulted in new climate initiatives and renewed commitments from world leaders to find ways to counteract climate change. And the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), signed in August of 2022, has continued to accelerate domestic interest in clean energy projects, especially investments in solar and EV applications. Even closer to home, energy companies were offering local consumers advice and help for energy savings and home winterization during the colder months and extreme weather events.
Let’s take a closer look at these trends.
These were some of the most-read energy releases of the two-month period:
- Readers couldn’t resist a look at the world’s strongest all-terrain crane lifting and installing a wind turbine in China, which set a new hoisting record.
- In early December, Air Products and the AES Corporation announced plans to invest $4B to build the largest green hydrogen facility in the U.S.
- Caterpillar provided a number of eye-catching images and videos of its milestone demonstration of the company’s new battery electric 793 large mining truck.
- Just announced in late December, 3M’s news that it will move away from manufacturing PFAS by the end of 2025 was a big enough headline to make it one of the best-performing releases of the period.
- EcoFlow, an eco-friendly energy solutions company, debuted a generator that uses both gas and propane for better efficiency and cleaner energy. The launch came at a time when much of the country was recovering from – or planning for – extreme weather emergencies.
Energy News Trends: November-December 2022
Let’s dive into the trends our team noticed among all the energy-related releases to hit the wire over the last months of 2022.
The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as COP27, took place Nov. 6-20 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. World leaders from more than 200 governments gathered to discuss their efforts and plans to tackle climate change. Environmental impacts of Russia’s war in Ukraine, a rise in food insecurity around the world, and the potential for developed countries to provide financing to developing countries to help them reduce emissions were some of the most-discussed topics.
Over the last two months of 2022, PR Newswire distributed 138 releases in the U.S. and Canada that mentioned “COP27,” with 60% of those hitting the wire during the two weeks of the conference.
Some of the newsworthy headlines to come out of the conference include:
- Bezos Earth Fund, The Rockefeller Foundation, and U.S. State Department Announce Support at COP27 for Design of New Energy Transition Accelerator
- Gates Foundation Calls for Bold and Immediate Action at COP27, Announces New Commitment to Meet the Climate Adaptation Needs of Smallholder Farmers
- IBM Teams Up to Help Accelerate Clean Energy Transition for Vulnerable Populations
- Cognizant collaborates with Microsoft to accelerate sustainability transformation
Although delegates did not leave the conference with an agreement for a stronger commitment to the 1.5 C goal set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, a deal was made to create a fund to help poor countries being battered by climate disasters. Representatives from 24 countries will be given one year to determine how the fund should work, so news watchers will keep an eye on its progress until COP28, which will take place in Dubai.
Energy Companies Offer Help During Winter Weather
The two-month period of November and December included the end of a damaging hurricane season that left locations including Florida and Puerto Rico recovering from Hurricanes Ian, Nicole, and Fiona. Between the hurricanes and a “once-in-a-generation” storm, energy companies wasted no time offering help and tips to customers. In the November-December period, PR Newswire distributed more than 260 utility-related releases that mentioned “weather.”
Here are a few of the releases that crossed the wire during that time:
- In early November, Duke Energy encouraged customers to take precautions ahead of Hurricane Nicole – and offered safety advice for once the storm passed. The company did the same before a severe winter storm hit the country the weekend of Christmas.
- Canada’s Hydro One Limited provided customers with an emergency preparedness kit ahead of anticipated damaging winds in late November.
- FirstEnergy introduced the industry’s first video game focused on drone safety, timed just before many consumers would likely get a drone for Christmas. The company notes the importance of following best practices when operating a drone, as they could damage power lines, substations, and more.
Several companies also announced their improvements to grid technology, which in turn would pass along savings to customers and help them avoid outages during extreme weather events. Here are a few examples:
- Hyperion Motors introduced its mobile, scalable charging station for hydrogen and battery vehicles. The station can “service two separate vehicle segments simultaneously at lower cost and risk compared with permanently installed charging stations or hydrogen dispensers.”
- Duke Energy announced its partnership with AWS to develop software that will help the company anticipate future energy demand and know where and how to update the power grid.
Energy companies are implementing these grid upgrades as they work to close an estimated $500 billion utility investment gap for resiliency measures to deal with extreme weather and increased load demands from buildings and transportation. “As we transition to a clean energy grid, state policymakers and utility regulators must give greater attention to energy affordability for all, and especially for lower-income and underserved households,” Energy Innovation’s Sara Baldwin and Hadley Tallackson said in a recent opinion article in Utility Dive.
Alongside ever-growing consumer demand for EVs, the 2022 IRA has further energized battery manufacturing across the U.S. By allocating billions of dollars for clean energy, including tax incentives for battery and energy storage technologies, the bill has already spurred announcements of large-scale gigafactories and similar projects across the country.
Here is a closer look at some of the headlines:
- In November, Panasonic announced that it broke ground on a lithium-ion battery plant in De Soto, Kansas, with plans to be operational in 2025.
- Government officials, including U.S. Senator Thom Tillis and Governor Roy Rooper, applauded new plans for the expansion of a lithium hydroxide facility in Bessemer City, North Carolina.
- On December 6, American Battery Factory announced the first in a planned network of battery gigafactories, headquartered in Tuscon, Arizona.
- United Airlines made an investment in Natron Energy, a manufacturer of sodium-ion batteries. “Natron’s sodium-ion batteries will help the aviation industry achieve its decarbonization and EV goals,” commented Colin Wessells, CEO of Natron Energy.
The expansion of battery production in the U.S. has also had a ripple effect on the entire energy supply chain, from raw material extraction to research and development. In particular, many companies are looking into ways to recycle and reprocess battery by-products.
- With a grant from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Battery Materials and Battery Manufacturing and Recycling Funding Opportunity (BMBMR), Nth Cycle is looking for solutions to recycle mineral resources more efficiently.
- Albemarle announced plans to develop a large-scale research facility in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the company will invest in improving lithium recovery and production methods.
- Livent Corporation and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have embarked on a research collaboration to develop new lithium battery technologies.
Solar Industry Reacts to Inflation Reduction Act
The solar industry also stands to benefit from the clean energy provisions included in the 2022 IRA, with businesses and residential solar projects both eligible for tax credit incentives. Driven in part by the impact of the IRA, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) anticipates the number of jobs in the solar industry to double by 2032 as the industry continues to grow.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the stories from November and December:
- In November, Enel North America announced it would build a solar panel manufacturing plant in the United States, citing “recent policy tailwinds from the Inflation Reduction Act” as a major contributing factor to its plans.
- SunPower, a solar energy services provider, reported a “strong demand for lease and Power Purchase Agreements (PPA),” which rose over 120% year-over-year.
- In Ohio, Growth Opps received funding for its GO Green Energy Fund, which invests in microgrids and community-owned solar projects.
The transition to a clean energy economy is also giving new life to vacant land. Under the IRA, solar projects can earn additional tax credits for undertaking development on brownfield sites, including former coal, natural gas, and oil facilities.
Check out the headlines below to learn more about projects that are repurposing land for solar utilities:
- Watershed Geo and the Tennessee Valley Authority plan to repurpose a retired coal plant in Kentucky into a solar project, part of TVA’s goal to reach net-zero carbon by 2050.
- AC Power and Vita Nuova announced a partnership to utilize brownfields and other industrial sites for renewable energy projects. Annika Colston, President and Founder of AC Power, sees it as a way to use “the momentum of the Inflation Reduction Act to repurpose sites, empower communities, and support workforce development.”
- Early in December, CEP Renewables announced the completion of the largest landfill solar project in North America (25.6 megawatts).
A study by home appliance brand Beko found that the majority of homeowners and renters ignore best practices for energy efficiency, despite knowing about them. As we move forward into a new year, we’ll see how companies and governments encourage consumers to change their energy use habits and continue the transition to a clean energy economy.
Energy efficiency and home energy solutions promised to be a trend at this year’s CES 2023, taking place in Las Vegas, Nevada. We’re followed the latest news and updates from CES to hear more about all the announcements and innovations presented at this year’s event.
Stay tuned for more energy news trends in the coming months!