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Climate tech is under the hood at CES

Illustration of a blinking green light on laptop with a CES logo

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

While the world's biggest brands are busy touting AI at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, climate tech is working behind the scenes at the event to highlight better batteries and clean energy, writes Katie.

Details: CES kicked off on Tuesday, with 130,000 attendees expected. Companies are firing off their announcements.

  • Batteries were powering the EVs shown off this week by automakers like Kia, VinFast, Mercedes-Benz and Honda. Hyundai-owned Supernal brought out its eVTOL.
  • Caterpillar brought an electric truck and mini excavator to the show.
  • Some next-gen battery startups like 24M touted their battery tech innovations, like 24M's battery separator, which it says will make batteries safer to use.

Zoom in: The CEO of retail giant Walmart, Doug McMillon, gave an AI-focused keynote on Tuesday, where the company also announced that Walmart will enable up to 10 GW of new clean energy projects into service by the end of 2030.

  • "We can't be tech-powered without power, but that power needs to be reliable, it needs to be affordable and, critically, it needs to be emissions-free," said Vishal Kapadia, Senior VP, Energy Transformation at Walmart during the keynote.
  • Hydrogen and its potentials for transportation emerged as a side conversation by some global brands like German conglomerate Bosch and South Korean automaker Hyundai.

Big picture: Energy from the grid, or stored in a battery, enables every single one of the flashy gadgets and AI applications shown off at the tech conference this week.

  • Computers that run artificial intelligence could require as much electricity as an entire country by 2027.
  • The gadgets from the show floor that are making headlines, like Samsung's spherical projector-wielding robot, are only as user-friendly as the length of the battery charge. Ballie's lasts just two to three hours.
  • While AI might be the dominant theme across the show floor at CES 2024, it's the energy innovations that will power all of those tech dreams.
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