Former Holden car factory becomes home to green-tech battery manufacturing
When Holden shuttered their factory in Adelaide, it was expected by some to remain empty. Along came German storage manufacturers Sonnen, who took the site over and converted into to a production line for their battery technologies. This isn’t a statement of intent though. Production is steadily increasing and it’s now started shipping home batteries to New Zealand, adding to its Australian customers.
A great example of how old-world factories can transition to new-world green industries.
Octopus farming set to break ecosystems
Plans to farm octopuses are advancing in several countries, not least Japan where one company claims to be ready to start supplying markets. However, there are ecological problems with scaling up farming, mostly arising from the need to feed them with live fish. Given existing problems with overfishing, could octopus farms finally break already struggling aquacultures?
Global influencer campaign stopped after model age issue uncovered
A social media campaign has been halted after Reuters discovered models being used were under the minimum age the company set. Although the models were adults, PMI set itself a minimum of 25 years of age for promoting its smoke-free products. The age limit was set as a socially responsible limit that would avoid accusations it was encouraging young people to buy alt-smoking products.
Both the research by Reuters and the actions of PMI demonstrate the importance of vetting against social responsibility objectives, and taking quick action where breaches are found.
Fixing Puerto Rico’s power woes held back by well meaning Tesla
After Puerto Rico was ravaged by a hurricane in 2017, the not-quite-a-US-State was plunged into darkness. Tesla rushed to the rescue, installing solar panels and battery packs that promised to keep essential services open. Sadly, the well-meaning, headline grabbing action hasn’t produced the results expected. Diesel generators have replaced solar panels that were damaged or fell into disrepair. It seems the company was so eager to grab headlines now, it forgot to think about how to train and educate the people it was trying to help.
Market for “second life” batteries set to grow over coming decade
As the number of EVs on our roads go up, so the number of second hand batteries will only increase. Some manufacturers have already announced plans for recycling and reuse projects (VW and Nissan are particularly vocal), while others are so new to market their plans are yet to be fully tested. One thing is certain: in the coming decade a market for second life batteries is going to grow.
Illinois EV owners face annual tax
We wrote a few weeks ago about the tax shortfall becoming noticeable as more EVs hit the road. Not using fossil fuels means owners pay minimal duties on their travel, which reduces the tax take and keeps costs down. One US state is looking to address this imbalance by charging EV owners a $1,000 annual ownership tax, not unlike the UK’s Road Fund Licence.
The tax would only apply to pure battery powered vehicles to avoid “double taxation” caused by hybrid owners paying fuel duty as well.
Longer term, this kind of scheme is inevitable, but we wonder whether it’s coming a little too early. EV sales in the US haven’t gone as well as many might expect and this may suppress demand even more.
VW plan for old car batteries is recycle or reuse
As more of the VW fleet is electrified, the question of what to do with the batteries at the end of their life is coming to the fore. Nissan already has a scheme in place to replace and recycle Leaf batteries and for the German giant it seems like more of the same. Batteries will either be converted into portable charging stations or ground down and recycled to create new ones.
It may be a while before this is seen in practice. VW expects batteries to last for 10 years in their vehicles.
Illegal work practices return to UK “sweatshops”
A BBC investigation has uncovered instances of workers being paid below minimum wage and working in unsafe conditions. The rise of fast fashion has driven demand for textiles factories to turn out cheap clothes quickly. In response, sweatshops in Leicester, once the heart of the UK’s textiles industry, have reopened, sometimes paying workers below the legally set minimum wage.
Not all factories are unethical. The investigation also high-lighted the many ethically run factories and schemes that can deliver UK produced clothes to brands and high street alike.
Image by Fairy Duff in the public domain.