Environmental groups accuse Amazon of ‘distorting the truth’ in latest clean-energy claim

On Wednesday, Amazon claimed that it reached its goal of sourcing all its power from clean energy sources in the past year. If taken at face value, the announcement would mean it hit the milestone seven years ahead of schedule, which would be a monumental achievement. But environmental experts speaking to The New York Times, including a group of concerned Amazon employees, warn that the company is “misleading the public by distorting the truth.”

The company’s claim of achieving 100 percent clean electricity is based in part on billion-dollar investments in over 500 solar and wind initiatives. The company’s logic is that the energy these projects generate equals the electricity its data centers consume — ergo, even Steven.

But the renewable energy sources it uses for those calculations are fed into a general power grid, not exclusively into Amazon’s operations. Environmental experts caution that the company is using “accounting and marketing to make itself look good,” as The New York Times put it.

“Amazon wants us to think of its data centers as surrounded by wind and solar farms,” the group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice wrote in a statement to The NYT. “[But] the reality is the company is heavily investing in data center expansions fueled by West Virginian coal, Saudi Arabian oil and Canadian fracked gas.”

Green plains filled with large windmills. Blue sky.
Amazon

Clean energy experts say Amazon’s inclusion of renewable energy certificates (RECs) in its calculations can be highly misleading. This is because if any power plants on a grid burn fossil fuels, businesses can’t know that the grid uses only clean energy. The Amazon employee group told The New York Times that, after subtracting the company’s use of RECs in its calculations, its clean-energy investment was “just a fraction of what was publicized.”

“Buying a bunch of RECs doesn’t help anything,” Leah Stokes, associate professor of environmental politics at UC Santa Barbara, told The NYT. “You just have to be investing in real projects.”

To be fair, any movement toward clean energy should be applauded. Amazon still received a “B” grade from the nonprofit CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), which was lower than Google and Microsoft’s “A” but still a passing grade. The problem comes when companies use the smoke and mirrors more often associated with marketing and PR to mislead the public into believing they’re doing more for the environment than they are.

“A company needs to actually outline, what are the sources that you are accounting for in that calculation?” Simon Fischweicher, a CDP director, told The NYT.

With the meteoric rise of AI and the financial pressures to compete in this new gold rush, companies are now reshuffling their decks and finding new ways to meet their climate goals. However, if that shakeup offers less tangible movement and more weasel words and sketchy logic, then that’s creating a new problem on top of their alleged solutions for a genuine crisis.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/environmental-groups-accuse-amazon-of-distorting-the-truth-in-latest-clean-energy-claim-170633705.html?src=rss

Google invests in Taiwanese solar company to boost green energy

Google is investing in a Taiwanese solar company with plans to build a 1 gigawatt (GW) pipeline of sustainable energy in the region. The company is placing a stake in New Green Power (NGP), part of BlackRock’s investment portfolio, for the project. The move could help Google and Taiwan move closer to their climate goals while stabilizing green energy production in one of the most crucial semiconductor hubs of our new AI-infused world.

Google already has a significant presence in Taiwan, including a data center. According to Amanda Peterson Corio, Google’s global head of data center energy, fossil fuels currently generate nearly 85 percent of Taiwan’s power grid. “To help overcome these obstacles, companies can play a pivotal role in finding new strategies to grow the supply of available renewable energy sources and promoting emerging technologies that enable the full decarbonization of regional electricity systems,” she wrote.

Google expects to use up to 300 megawatts of solar capacity to power its data centers in Taiwan. In addition, Peterson Corio says the company “may offer a portion of this clean energy capacity to [its] semiconductor suppliers and manufacturers in the region.” She said that would help its partners meet their green energy goals and reduce indirect (Scope 3) emissions from Google’s supply chain partners.

“A significant share of our Scope 3 footprint can be traced back to the electricity grids that power our suppliers and users, which is why broad decarbonization — and partnerships like this — continue to be core to our net-zero goal,” Peterson Corio wrote.

Regulators haven’t yet approved the deal. Google hasn’t said how much it’s investing in NGP.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/google-invests-in-taiwanese-solar-company-to-boost-green-energy-171231205.html?src=rss

Extreme E is now Extreme H, a hydrogen-powered racing series starting 2025

Extreme E, the premium off-road EV racing series, is pivoting to hydrogen. The series announced this week that it’s rebranding to Extreme H, and unveiled a hydrogen-powered race car it’s calling the Pioneer 25 to usher in the transition. The first season is slated to begin in April 2025 in Saudi Arabia, before heading to the UK, Germany, Italy and wrapping up in the US.

Extreme E had its first race in 2021, putting electric off-road vehicles to the test of (as you might expect) extreme environments, like the desert. It got some major teams on board, including the likes of McLaren. This year marks Extreme E’s fourth season. In a blog post about the shift to hydrogen, founder and CEO Alejandro Agag said the move is “not just about e-mobility; it’s about creating green power solutions that can be applied anywhere, from remote locations to bustling cities.”

“By launching Extreme H, we’re not only showcasing the viability of hydrogen as a fuel source but also testing the wider hydrogen ecosystem including recharging and hydrogen transportation — as well as helping to create a market for it,” Agag wrote. Pioneer 25, Extreme H’s flagship race car, is powered by a 75kW hydrogen fuel cell.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/extreme-e-is-now-extreme-h-a-hydrogen-powered-racing-series-starting-2025-213645987.html?src=rss

China is plowing $11 billion into a solar, wind and coal energy project

A Chinese state-owned power company is splashing out 80 billion yuan ($11 billion) on an energy base that will generate electricity from solar, wind and coal sources. China Three Gorges Renewables Group, a subsidiary of the country’s largest hydropower company, plans to build a plant with a 16-gigawatt capacity and a five-gigawatt storage facility, Bloomberg reports.

This is part of China’s aim to build 455 gigawatts worth of renewable energy projects in the desert by 2030. This plant is being constructed in Inner Mongolia, which will get 135 gigawatts of the total planned output.

The China Three Gorges Corporation is looking to diversify its energy sources as building large hydro dams is becoming less feasible. According to Three Gorges, wind and solar generation from the plant will depend on grid accessibility. The coal plant is set to start operations in three years.

It’s somewhat disappointing that the new plant will have a coal power element, though it's not fully surprising given the way China has bristled at renewable energy commitments during climate summit talks with other countries. As Bloomberg notes, China has been struggling to put all of its clean energy into the power grid. It often relies on coal when renewable sources like solar and wind aren’t available.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/china-is-plowing-11-billion-into-a-solar-wind-and-coal-energy-project-120007712.html?src=rss

Lucid Motors cuts six percent of its workforce ahead of EV SUV launch

Lucid Motors has cut 400 jobs, according to a regulatory filing. This amounts to around six percent of the workforce. Incidentally, the company also cut a whopping 1,300 jobs last year. This all comes just ahead of the launch of its first electric SUV later this year, a crucial release for the auto manufacturer.

You can likely guess as to the reasoning given for the layoffs. The 400 people got pink slips due to the ever-useful and nebulous term known as “restructuring.” To that end, the company says it expects this restructuring to be completed by the end of the third quarter, though it didn’t say anything about rehiring anyone.

“As always we must remain vigilant about costs. We are optimizing our resources in a way we believe will best position the company for future success and growth opportunities as we focus on achieving our ambitious goals,” CEO Peter Rawlinson said in a company email published by TechCrunch.

Those ambitious goals include the aforementioned EV SUV, named the Lucid Gravity. The company’s calling it the “world’s best SUV” and it’ll feature two electric motors, all-wheel drive and an expected maximum range of 440 miles per charge. Those are some really good specs.

However, the vehicle’s also expected to start at $80,000. EV growth has stalled in North America, so if the EV doesn’t catch on, it’ll likely be time for more restructuring. If that fails, Lucid can always sell more cars to the Saudi government.

Speaking of stalled EV growth, most of the major US manufacturers have laid off staff in the past year. Tesla’s woes are common knowledge but Rivian has also been dramatically cutting its workforce. The same is true of California-based Fisker.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/lucid-motors-cuts-six-percent-of-its-workforce-ahead-of-ev-suv-launch-152746970.html?src=rss

The world’s biggest 3D printer can a make a house in under 80 hours

The University of Maine just unveiled the world’s largest polymer 3D printer. The new printer, named Factory of the Future 1.0 (FoF 1.0), can print objects as large as 96 feet long by 32 feet wide by 18 feet high. It’s also quite speedy, relatively speaking, as it can print up to 500 pounds per hour. That’s like three people, every hour.

It can dynamically switch between printing techniques to suit different aspects of complex jobs. The printer can flip between large-scale additive manufacturing, subtractive manufacturing, continuous tape layup and robot arm operations. These technologies make the printer uniquely suited for a number of industries, including housing, infrastructure and the development of military vehicles.

Most of the stuff it makes is recyclable, so “you can basically deconstruct it, grind it up if you wish” and “do it again”, according to Dr. Habib Dagher, the Director of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine. To that end, the printer prioritizes biobased materials, like wood residuals.

This tech seems like a great way to build a ton of affordable housing quickly and that’s exactly what some proponents have in mind. “Maine needs an estimated 80,000 additional homes by 2030, many specifically for households with incomes at or below the area median income,” said MaineHousing’s Development Director Mark Wiesendanger. “This effort creates another means of producing quality affordable housing, while further driving costs down, and using abundant wood residuals from Maine sawmills.” AP suggests the printer “may one day create entire neighborhoods.” The specs indicate that it should be able to make a modest single-story home in around 80 hours.

However, this is America, so it’s not like people built this thing just to help the unhoused. UMaine researchers received funding from the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy. These governmental institutions are going to want a return on their investment, so the printer will also likely be used to whip up lightweight rapidly deployable vessels, like submarines and other maritime vehicles. Senator Susan Collins called the printer “invaluable to our national security."

The FoF 1.0 has a sibling printer on the UMaine campus, which was the previous record holder for the world’s largest 3D printer. It’s already been used to manufacture a 600-square-foot, single-family home made of wood fiber and bioresin materials. The new printer, however, is four times the size. Luckily, the two models are housed in the same location and can work on different aspects of the same projects simultaneously.

The University of Maine will soon break ground on a new research laboratory called the Green Engineering and Materials (GEM) Factory of the Future. This will be the new home of both printers, with a primary aim to “facilitate and scale up more sustainable manufacturing practices.” It will also likely house even larger printers in the future. “We’re learning from this to design the next one,” Dr. Dagher told ABC News.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-worlds-biggest-3d-printer-can-a-make-a-house-in-under-80-hours-155256122.html?src=rss

Samsung awarded $6.4 billion CHIPS Act grant to build ‘semiconductor ecosystem’ in Texas

The Biden administration just announced a preliminary agreement to award Samsung up to $6.4 billion in grants as part of CHIPS Act funding. This money will complement the $44 billion in private investment that the company has promised to spend in the state to build a “semiconductor ecosystem.”

This money will be spent to finish a “leading-edge” campus in Taylor, Texas that will focus on research and development of advanced logic technologies, manufacturing and, perhaps most importantly, packaging. When it comes to chips, packaging refers to providing power, inputs and outputs. It’s a highly specialized process that’s typically done overseas, which means that even chips built on US soil have to get shipped to another country and then mailed back. Samsung’s dedicated packaging facility should eliminate some of these headaches and strengthen the overall supply chain.

The money will also go toward an expansion of Samsung’s pre-existing facility in Austin. Taylor and Austin are only 40 minutes away from one another, leading the Biden administration to suggest that the combination of both facilities will turn “Samsung’s existing presence in Texas into a comprehensive ecosystem for the development and production of leading-edge chips in the United States.” The president also says it’ll lead to 21,500 jobs for Texans, with $40 million set aside for training.

The CHIPS and Science Act has given the federal government authority to award funding and offer loans to tech companies to encourage domestic spending. GlobalFoundries received a grant of $1.5 billion back in February to help with a major expansion, in addition to snapping up a $1.6 billion loan. The company plans on spending this money in Malta, New York to build a new fabrication facility that manufactures chips for the automotive, aerospace, defense and AI industries.

Intel recently received the largest CHIPS grant to date, grabbing up to $8.5 billion to continue various US-based ventures. Intel plans on using that money to build some new plants that manufacture semiconductor chips for the AI industry. It’s building two new fabrication facilities in Arizona and two more in Ohio. Intel will also use the financial windfall to modernize a pair of pre-existing plants in New Mexico and one in Oregon. The company says it’ll be investing $100 billion in US-based chip manufacturing, leading to an influx of around 30,000 jobs.

President Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law back in 2022 to encourage domestic semiconductor research and manufacturing in order to lessen America's reliance on Chinese suppliers. All told, it sets aside $52 billion in tax credits and funding for companies to expand stateside production.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/samsung-awarded-64-billion-chips-act-grant-to-build-semiconductor-ecosystem-in-texas-165414946.html?src=rss

Leaked Rivian R2 specs include a 330-mile range and $47,000 starting price

Specs for the Rivian R2 leaked this week ahead of Thursday’s unveiling. Found by “internet sleuths” who tipped off Electrek, its specifications were buried in source code for the EV’s teaser website (briefly visible to anyone in the public using a web inspector). The code suggests the R2 will have up to a 330-mile range and a $47,000 starting price when it arrives in 2026.

The R2 allegedly has a three-second 0 to 60 mph acceleration time, but it’s probably wise to expect that only in the top-tier models. The code lists the compact SUV as a five-seater with a 115.6-inch wheelbase. Other details include a length of 185.6 inches, a width of 75 inches (84.4 inches with mirrors) and a height of 66.9 inches.

The code says it will have a NACS chargeport but adds that it can also charge at CCS stations. The leak also lists powered rear glass and a bike mount that “snaps into the rear accessory ports.” (It mentions that no tools are needed.) The bike mount allegedly fits in the R2’s frunk when not in use. “We design our vehicles to maximize storage throughout,” the marketing copy from the source code reads. “The roomy front trunk offers plenty of space to stow large items — from weekend gear to weekly grocery haul.”

Other details from the source code include a maximum ground clearance of 9.8 inches, a 32-inch wheel and tire diameter, a 25-degree approach angle and a 27-degree departure angle.

Rivian confirmed last month that it will officially unveil the R2 on March 7. The automaker’s CEO, RJ Scaringe, had previously said the vehicle would be smaller and cheaper than the R1. Its $47,000 starting price (the code also lists $47,500 in other places) would put it squarely within the $40,000 to $60,000 range CFO Claire McDonough previously promised.

Unfortunately, news of more layoffs at Rivian emerged ahead of Thursday’s launch event. Crain’s Chicago Business (via Quartz) first reported that the EV maker laid off “about 100” employees at its Normal, IL factory. That’s about one percent of the plant’s total workers. The cuts follow (or are perhaps part of) those announced in February when Rivian said it would lay off 10 percent of its workforce.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/leaked-rivian-r2-specs-include-a-330-mile-range-and-47000-starting-price-181927644.html?src=rss

Leaked Rivian R2 specs include a 330-mile range and $47,000 starting price

Specs for the Rivian R2 leaked this week ahead of Thursday’s unveiling. Found by “internet sleuths” who tipped off Electrek, its specifications were buried in source code for the EV’s teaser website (briefly visible to anyone in the public using a web inspector). The code suggests the R2 will have up to a 330-mile range and a $47,000 starting price when it arrives in 2026.

The R2 allegedly has a three-second 0 to 60 mph acceleration time, but it’s probably wise to expect that only in the top-tier models. The code lists the compact SUV as a five-seater with a 115.6-inch wheelbase. Other details include a length of 185.6 inches, a width of 75 inches (84.4 inches with mirrors) and a height of 66.9 inches.

The code says it will have a NACS chargeport but adds that it can also charge at CCS stations. The leak also lists powered rear glass and a bike mount that “snaps into the rear accessory ports.” (It mentions that no tools are needed.) The bike mount allegedly fits in the R2’s frunk when not in use. “We design our vehicles to maximize storage throughout,” the marketing copy from the source code reads. “The roomy front trunk offers plenty of space to stow large items — from weekend gear to weekly grocery haul.”

Other details from the source code include a maximum ground clearance of 9.8 inches, a 32-inch wheel and tire diameter, a 25-degree approach angle and a 27-degree departure angle.

Rivian confirmed last month that it will officially unveil the R2 on March 7. The automaker’s CEO, RJ Scaringe, had previously said the vehicle would be smaller and cheaper than the R1. Its $47,000 starting price (the code also lists $47,500 in other places) would put it squarely within the $40,000 to $60,000 range CFO Claire McDonough previously promised.

Unfortunately, news of more layoffs at Rivian emerged ahead of Thursday’s launch event. Crain’s Chicago Business (via Quartz) first reported that the EV maker laid off “about 100” employees at its Normal, IL factory. That’s about one percent of the plant’s total workers. The cuts follow (or are perhaps part of) those announced in February when Rivian said it would lay off 10 percent of its workforce.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/leaked-rivian-r2-specs-include-a-330-mile-range-and-47000-starting-price-181927644.html?src=rss

GlobalFoundries secures $1.5 billion in CHIPS Act funding for US expansion

The Biden administration is granting $1.5 billion in funding to GlobalFoundries to bolster semiconductor production under the CHIPS Act. The company, which spun out from AMD in 2009 and also has access to $1.6 billion in loans from the CHIPS Program Office, will split the cash between three projects.

First, GlobalFoundries will build a new fabrication facility in Malta, New York, where it aims to produce "high value technologies not currently available in the US," the Department of Commerce said in a statement. GlobalFoundries says it will use the facility to build chips for a range of industries and applications, including the automotive, aerospace, defense and AI spaces. Construction is expected to start in 2025.

Secondly, GlobalFoundries plans to expand its existing facility in Malta by incorporating tech from its Singapore and Germany plants with the aim of making more semiconductors for use in cars and trucks. This expansion, combined with the new fab, will enable GlobalFoundries to triple the capacity of its Malta campus over the next decade or so. Once all phases of both projects are complete, GlobalFoundries expects to increase wafer production to 1 million per year across the plants.

Last but not least, the remaining funding will go toward modernizing an existing fab in Burlington, Vermont. The aim is to build the first US plant capable of high-volume manufacturing of next-generation gallium nitride on silicon semiconductors for electric vehicles, smartphones, the power grid and other key technologies. The plant will use entirely carbon-free energy, while an on-site solar system will provide up to nine percent of annual power needs.

Through public-private partnerships, GlobalFoundries plans to invest more than $12 billion into the sites over the next 10-plus years. New York is also supporting the Malta projects with $575 million in performance-based Green CHIPS tax credits, while the New York Power Authority is investing at least $30 million.

The Department of Commerce says the three projects are expected to create 1,500 manufacturing positions and around 9,000 construction jobs over the next 10 years. The positions are slated to pay fair wages and offer benefits including childcare.

Aligned with the broader aims of the CHIPS Act, the investment is designed to improve domestic semiconductor supply chains. GlobalFoundries says that there are only four companies that can deliver "current and mature foundry capabilities" at its scale outside of China, and it's the only one of those based in the US.

Last year, the company reached a direct supply agreement with GM to provide the automaker with US-built processors and help it avoid the kinds of chip shortages that caused a significant slowdown in car manufacturing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. GlobalFoundries agreed to create an exclusive capacity corridor for GM chips. GlobalFoundries struck a chip deal with Ford in 2021 as well.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/globalfoundries-secures-15-billion-in-chips-act-funding-for-us-expansion-172754429.html?src=rss