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Exclusive: Why Joe Biden is invoking a war power to build heat pumps and solar panels



Why Joe Biden is invoking a war power to build heat pumps and solar panels

#Joe #Biden #invoking #war #power #build #heat #pumps #solar #panels

It looks like President Joe Biden is done waiting for Congress to do something about the country’s dependence on foreign energy. Through a series of executive actions announced on Monday, the president plans to use the Defense Production Act to boost clean energy in the United States by putting a two-year freeze on tariffs for solar panels coming to the country from Southeast Asia and simultaneously scaling up the domestic production of clean energy technologies.

This is the latest in a series of moves that show the White House is beginning to treat climate change and clean energy as national security issues. It’s also the kind of thing climate activists have been asking the Biden administration to do for months. The executive actions could bring thousands of manufacturing jobs to the country while also making the US less dependent on foreign oil and gas, particularly as the war in Ukraine continues.

This week’s Defense Production Act (DPA) authorization specifically targets solar technology, heat pumps, insulation, green hydrogen, and grid components like transformers. Those might not seem very similar to, say, repurposing automobile production lines to build tanks, but in the past few years we have seen the definition of national security shift to encompass more than just military spending. It now includes everything from the manufacture of equipment to treat Covid-19 to baby formula. Biden’s latest move sends a message that clean energy technologies are worth investing in because they are critical to the security of the country, and the government is willing to support their production even if the market would prefer cheaper imports.

“There are tons of things the defense industry does that, on their face, would not exist in a free market environment,” said Sarah Ladislaw, managing director of the US program at RMI, a clean energy think tank. “But they are important to the proper functioning of our economy in a way that is much more significant than just a commodity.”


It will take time for manufacturing to spin up in response to the DPA, which is why Biden’s executive order is also addressing tariffs on imported solar panels. A two-year freeze on tariffs for certain solar panel imports might sound like the kind of wonky finagling that’s best left for international economists to argue over, but experts say it’s the action that’s going to have the most immediate impact. That’s because the American solar industry has been in a state of generalized hysteria lately due to a Commerce Department investigation into whether developers were dodging tariffs on Chinese solar equipment by importing the equipment from four other Asian countries — Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam — instead. The investigation threatened to derail solar projects across the country, jeopardizing a burgeoning solar market that employed hundreds of thousands of workers.

“The tariffs thing is absolutely transformative,” said Leah Stokes, an associate political science professor at the University of California Santa Barbara. More than 230,000 people work in the American solar industry as of 2020, mostly in installation, and “the vast majority of those jobs depend on solar imports,” according to Stokes, who is also the senior policy counsel at the electrification nonprofit Rewiring America.

Hundreds of solar projects around the country had been put on hold in the last two months while developers waited to find out if they’d have to pay billions in tariffs. The newly announced freeze, however, should allow those projects to move forward immediately, while also giving American solar manufacturers time to ramp up production to meet the needs of future projects. That’s where the Defense Production Act will come in, using grants and loans to spur domestic solar manufacturing before the tariff freeze expires.

The DPA gives the White House the power to tell private companies what to manufacture for the sake of the country. Presidents Trump and Biden both used the act to bolster the country’s pandemic response, and Biden recently used the act to respond to the formula shortage and rising energy prices due to the war in Ukraine — the latter executive action also directed DPA funding toward critical minerals for the production of batteries. Paired with Monday’s authorization, that order could set up the country for a rise in both the supply of clean energy and batteries to store that clean energy in.

“It puts energy back into a place we haven’t been in a long time,” said Ladislaw. For decades, American energy policy has prioritized cheap energy, which opened the door to energy supply disruptions of the type seen during the 1973 oil crisis and the current rise in gas prices due to a ban on Russian oil. Biden’s DPA authorization puts the country on the path to energy independence and, according to Ladislaw, is a signal that the administration thinks of energy as “a strategic asset that has to be managed in a different way, instead of just letting the market handle it.”

Aside from solar manufacturing, the DPA authorization also includes funding to ramp up the production of four other technologies: green hydrogen technology, which can be used to store clean energy and clean up carbon-heavy industries; grid components like transformers, which will help build a more modern, resilient grid that can handle an influx of renewable energy; heat pumps, which use electricity to heat and cool homes more efficiently than fossil fuel-dependent systems like furnaces; and building insulation, which is an overlooked tool in fighting climate change, making homes more energy-efficient and keeping them heated and cooled for longer.

It’s an encouraging sign that the Biden administration is looking at energy holistically, focusing on efficiency and energy savings just as much as supply. Heat pumps, in particular, have been the focus of writers like Bill McKibben as well as electrification nonprofits. McKibben recently wrote that using the DPA to spur heat pump production could help alleviate the global impacts of the war in Ukraine while also reducing our climate impacts, and Rewiring America released a heat pump-focused policy plan to bolster American manufacturing and labor and reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian oil and gas.

While all of these steps are encouraging, the impact of the DPA is still limited by its budget — a few hundred million dollars — and by the fact that the authorization can easily be revoked. President Biden has increasingly needed to turn to executive action to achieve a sort of piecemeal resurrection of a climate agenda that has mostly faltered in Congress, but that’s not a long-term solution.

Republicans have also taken issue with Biden’s characterization of clean energy as a matter of national security worthy of the DPA. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) attacked Biden on Twitter for using his executive order to “advance his global warming agenda,” suggesting Congress curtail the act if the administration “keeps misusing the DPA for non-defense purposes.” Toomey’s argument ignores both the Pentagon and the text of the Defense Production Act itself, however: A Defense Department report from last October found climate change was an issue of national security, and the text of the DPA itself lists energy as a “strategic and critical material.”

Lasting change, Stokes and Ladislaw said, has to come through Congress. The ghost of Biden’s Build Back Better bill, which is still winding its way through reconciliation, could unlock hundreds of billions of dollars in incentives, far more than the budget allocated to the DPA.

“Congressional action is really important,” Ladislaw said. “Our attention will shift on security matters and energy security and climate. So what Congress is doing is really necessary; they will be a much bigger deal in terms of impact in the long term. This is meant to be a complement to what the Hill can achieve.”


The question, of course, is whether the Hill can achieve anything on climate change. Toomey’s reaction is quite telling of the current atmosphere in Washington: A plan that increases American manufacturing jobs, whether through the Defense Production Act or through the Build Back Better Bill, would in any other circumstances be an easy bipartisan sell. The problem, it seems, is not the plan but the product. Clean energy and climate action appear to be automatic no-gos for Republicans, and until that changes, the planet — and American jobs — will simply have to suffer the consequences.

This story was first published in the Recode newsletter. Sign up here so you don’t miss the next one!


Exclusive: London-based Vita Mojo, which makes restaurant software for digital ordering and kitchen management, has raised $30M led by Battery Ventures (Megha Paul/ –




London-based Vita Mojo, which makes restaurant software for digital ordering and kitchen management, has raised $30M led by Battery Ventures (Megha Paul/

#Londonbased #Vita #Mojo #restaurant #software #digital #ordering #kitchen #management #raised #30M #led #Battery #Ventures #Megha #PaulTecheu

Megha Paul /

London-based Vita Mojo, which makes restaurant software for digital ordering and kitchen management, has raised $30M led by Battery Ventures  —  UK-based platform enables digital ordering in restaurants and more efficient kitchen and delivery operations through its software

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Exclusive: Tell Us About Your Pop Culture Month: June 2022 Edition –




Tell Us About Your Pop Culture Month: June 2022 Edition

#Pop #Culture #Month #June #Edition

The main characters of Voltron: Legendary Defender.

Image: Netflix/Dreamworks Animation

*cracks knuckles*

Watched: Oh boy, I went through a bit of a tear with TV this month. Along with being taken in by Ms. Marvel and slowly catching up on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, the biggest thing I watched, TV show wise, was Barry. After hearing so much about it on Twitter over the course of several weekends, I finally took the plunge and really enjoyed that first season. It’s incredibly breezy as hell, and really easy to just binge three or four episodes before walking away to let everything settle. I like how constantly out of his depth Barry is while simultaneously being the most dangerous person in every scene he inhabits; I like his weird, brief hypotheticals of the future he could have if he successfully gets out of The Life. I’ve stepped away from it for a few days, but am prepared to get into the next two seasons and then eagerly consume season four whenever that hits up in 2023.

Towards the end of the month, I got hit with a case of the rewatch and decided to turn my eye back to Voltron: Legendary Defender over on Netflix. And you know what, those first three seasons are about as strong as I remember them being. I respect a show that’s extremely committed to its own bullshit, in this case a guerrilla army of alien cat ninjas with transforming swords. In its best moments, that Legendary Defender managed to make its universe feel like a big, space opera romp while maintaining a tight focus. I remember some of this show’s future plot points, and remember being just passively mixed on the ending, so we’ll see how that goes as I continue down mecha-memory lane.

Barry: Season 1 – ‘It’s A Job’ | Official Trailer | HBO

Movie wise, there was Lightyear and Jurassic World Dominion. Lightyear was Fine, but ultimately doesn’t have anything going for it beyond Chris Evans having a surprisingly solid voice that would probably be good for Star Trek sometime in the near future, if he’s in the mood to do franchises again. As for Dominion…well, beyond just not giving nearly enough time to Omar Sy as a spy trying to take down a dinosaur smuggling ring, the biggest sin of the entire thing is that it’s just really dull. The first two World movies had a noticeable, joyous—and at times, controversial—bloodlust and meanness about them that Dominion very much lacks. If this is the last one, I can’t say that I brought flowers with me to the service.

Played: It finally happened. After shelling out for a wireless controller, last week I finally beat Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I grinded some shrines, got enough hearts to pull out the Master Sword, and finally took Calamity Ganon down. I can’t tell you how I actually feel about the game because I’ve been playing it off and on for years—when I booted up my save last week, it said that last I played the game was in March of 2021—but what I remember of the game eventually grew on me, though not to beloved acclaim as anyone else.

Breath of the Wild may be a game that I restart and play properly instead of just playing once every couple of months, but that’ll come after I knock out some more 2022 games. I told myself earlier in the year that I’d play Stranger of Paradise over the summer, and it is indeed a perfect summer game in that it’s a good way to get out of the sun and just turn some podcasts on. Couldn’t tell you a lick about what the game’s plot is—not a real Final Fantasy player, though I do understand that this is intended to be a prequel of sorts to the original Final Fantasy—but the gameplay is satisfying enough that I don’t really care. It’s a fun throwback to those old PS3/360 co-op games you’d play on the couch with your childhood friend, and I just love how completely frickin’ stupid it is. I may end up paying for that DLC if I finish the base campaign proper in time.


Very briefly, I also played some Citizen Sleeper, a narrative cyberpunk RPG inspired by tabletop games about you, a humanoid machine dubbed a “Sleeper,” having to work inside a space station while figuring out how to stay alive. A limited set of dice dictates what all you can do in any day, and as you become more embroiled in the lives of the station’s inhabitants, it can be stressful trying to figure out how to balance it all. But it’s the fun kind of stressful, one where the vibes are always easy going thanks to some moody music and a casts of characters who are light and friendly while no doubt having a darker edge to them. There’s just something absorbing about Citizen Sleeper right from the start, and I think that if you’ve got a PC that can run it—or Xbox Game Pass—you should play it if you’ve got yourself a love for the sci-fi.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge – Reveal trailer

Finally, there was Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, a retro throwback to the 80s days of the TMNT. Beyond mashing the buttons of the arcade machine at my local Dairy Queen back in the day, I’ve never played a TMNT beat-’em-up before, but Shredder’s Revenge manages to feel like a fun nostalgia trip nonetheless. For me, the biggest issue is that the game feels too chaotic for its own good; in single player, some levels feel deliberately mean, like the early missions on the hoverboard. And in co-op, it quickly gets to be a mess if you’ve got more than three players. There’s fun to be had here, certainly, but the game having six-player co-op feel a bit misguided when even four players could become real unwieldy really fast.

But enough from me, go ahead and spill what all you did for the month of June in the comments below.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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Exclusive: Xiaomi 12S Ultra uses a 1-inch Sony camera sensor. Here’s why it is a massive moment for smartphone photography –




Xiaomi 12S Ultra uses a 1-inch Sony camera sensor. Here’s why it is a massive moment for smartphone photography

#Xiaomi #12S #Ultra #1inch #Sony #camera #sensor #Heres #massive #moment #smartphone #photography

Sony has some of the best camera sensors in the market. That is the reason why most smartphone manufacturers use sensors from Sony in their smartphones. While Xiaomi’s upcoming flagship smartphone, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra has been developed in a collaboration with Leica, the smartphone manufacturer has decided to go for a camera sensor that was developed by Sony.

Xiaomi 12S Ultra will be using Sony IMX 989, the same sensor that Sony uses in their RX100 Mk 7 point-and-shoot cameras. The RX100 Mk 7 is one of the best point-and-shoot cameras in the market right now and is massively popular among budding YouTube celebrities and content creators.

Xiaomi’s decision to use a properly developed, large camera sensor for their upcoming flagship is a huge moment for smartphone photography, provided they calibrate the sensor properly. Here’s why.

More data to play with
Most smartphone camera sensors are barely half the size of a 1-inch sensor. It does not matter how many pixels a manufacturer shoves inside a sensor. Samsung’s 200MP camera sensor may sound impressive on paper, but had it not used some sort of pixel binning to group the individual pixels and make a larger pixel, images taken on the ISOCELL HP1 or HP3 sensors would have a lot of artefacts and noise, thus making the image grainy and ultimately unusable.

More than the number of pixels, it is the size of pixels that matter. A larger pixel will be able to capture more light and therefore more data. This means that a camera’s processor has more data to work with and will eventually be able to put out a better image.


This is one of the reasons why, for a long time, smartphone cameras have been almost as good as proper full frame cameras, but also lacked some basic functionalities that professional photographers rely heavily on. If Xiaomi calibrates the sensor properly and uses quality glass elements for lenses, photos and videos taken in the dark should be phenomenal. This is where Xiaomi messed up with their Mi 11 ultra, which had a 1/1.2-inch camera sensor.

A better dynamic range
Another advantage of having a bigger sensor is that the camera has a naturally larger or better dynamic range. 

Dynamic range basically refers to the ratio between the maximum and minimum signal that is acquired by the sensor. At the upper limit, pixels appear to be white for every higher value of intensity (saturation), while pixels appear black at the lower limit and below. 

What this means is that in the same photo or video, the sensor is able to handle a varied level of brightness and darkness in such a manner that there is very little or preferably no distortion of the colours.

Xiaomi 12S Ultra uses a 1-inch Sony camera sensor. Here’s why it is a massive moment for smartphone photography

Better depth of field or bokeh
The most visible difference that a large sensor makes for amateur photographers is the bokeh or “blur” in a photo. Smartphone camera sensores have always been little, because of which no matter how wide an aperture you use, there simply isn’t enough space for background and foreground separation. That is why smartphone cameras have had to process their images and create a fake bokeh effect. This won’t be a problem with a larger sensor.

Having said all of this, it really depends on how Xiaomi and Leica have calibrated the Sony sensor. Also, it would be foolish for anyone to say that smartphone cameras have become better than proper, full frame or medium format cameras; they haven’t, and for the foreseeable future, they won’t at least for a couple of decades. What Sony and Samsung with their sensors have been able to do, is pushing smartphone manufacturers ever so close to the ultimate goal that they all have been aiming for, by some distance. 

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