The Download: updates from our flagship EmTech event, and cleaning up the grid

Which technologies are creating new opportunities for our planet, our bodies and our businesses? That question was at the forefront of yesterday’s EmTech 2022—MIT Technology Review’s annual conference that brings together global changemakers, innovators, and industry veterans to discuss cutting-edge technologies and the people making them possible.

Highlights from the day included:

+ Michael López-Alegría, an astronaut with more than 40 years of aviation and space experience, who explained to the audience what it’s like to live and work onboard the International Space Station.

Tara Ruttley, Blue Origin’s chief scientist for Orbital Reef, a future commercial space station in low Earth orbit. She described how Orbital Reef intends to facilitate a whole load of industries venturing into space including the entertainment, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing sectors.

+ Yangyang Cheng, a research scholar in Law and Fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center, and Matt Sheehan, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, discussing their perspectives on the US and China’s tricky ongoing relationship.

+ Noubar Afeyan, co-founder and chairman of the board of Moderna, discussing the company’s pivot from fighting flu and cancer to covid. 

Check out our live blog from Wednesday for all the details! And you can tune into today’s live blog to follow the final day of the conference from 9am ET this morning.  It’s not too late to get tickets, if you haven’t already.

How new versions of solar, wind, and batteries could help the grid

Renewables are being deployed at a massive scale. However, further progress in labs and startups could help move the technology forward—and, crucially, help us to clean up the grid.

Casey Crownhart, our climate and energy reporter, discussed the future of solar, wind, and batteries onstage at this week’s EmTech in a bid to find out what’s coming next for renewable energy. Read the full story.

Casey’s story is from The Spark, her new weekly newsletter giving you the inside track on all things climate and energy. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Wednesday.

The must-reads