Emerging Technologies

Solar storms hit tech equipment, and other technology news you need to know

Published · Updated
Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).

The solar storm led to aurora borealis being visible in the skies over many countries. Image: REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

Sebastian Buckup
Head of Network and Partnerships; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum
  • This monthly round-up brings you the latest news from the world of technology.
  • Top tech stories: Solar storms disrupt communications; Saudi Arabia launches Centre for Space Futures; China releases draft rules to regulate its lithium battery market.

1. Solar storms disrupt satellites and other tech

The strongest geomagnetic storm in 20 years hit Earth on 11 May, causing disruptions to power grids, broadband technology and GPS satellites in space, Quartz reported.

The solar storm was categorized as "extreme" by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) - and led to aurora borealis being visible in the skies over many countries.

But the charged particles from the Sun can also cause fluctuations in Earth's magnetic field, which can impact communications infrastructure.

The NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center reported power grid irregularities, loss of high-frequency communications and GPS disruptions.

This included the GPS used in John Deere precision-farming tractors in the US, according to reports.

Strong geomagnetic storm warning.
Warnings were issued over the geomagnetic effects of the solar storm. Image: NOAA

2. Saudi Arabia launches Centre for Space Futures

Saudi Arabia has launched a Centre for Space Futures aimed at advancing space technologies and sustainability on a global scale.

Set to open in autumn 2024, the Centre is a collaboration between the Saudi Space Agency World Economic Forum's Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network. “By developing principles, expanding knowledge, refining models and cultivating partnerships, we aim to responsibly harness the vast opportunities of space,” said Mohammed Al Tamimi, CEO of the Saudi Space Agency.

With a focus on fostering a prosperous and sustainable space economy, the Centre for Space Futures will work towards maximizing technological benefits while minimizing risks.

The collaboration was announced at a press conference at the Forum's Special Meeting on Global Collaboration, Growth and Energy for Development 2024, held in Saudi Arabia in April.

3. In brief: Other tech stories to know

UK firm Wayve, which develops AI for self-driving cars, has raised $1.05 billion in its latest funding round - the largest investment in an AI company in Europe so far, reports the BBC.

China has released draft rules to regulate its lithium battery market, according to Reuters. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the proposals to address concerns about overcapacity and industry profits.

The University of Maine, in the US, has unveiled a giant 3D printer capable of printing objects as long as a blue whale. Factory of the Future 1.0 ( or FoF 1.0), is the world's largest polymer 3D printer - and can print a house.

Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa has confirmed the company will announce the successor to its Switch games console by the end of this fiscal year, IGN reports.


The latest results from Apple show a global decline in sales across almost every market. Smartphone demand decreased by over 10% in the first quarter of the year, with overall sales dropping in all regions except Europe.

An expert panel commissioned by French President Emmanuel Macron has recommended limiting smartphone and social media use for children and teenagers in France. The panel suggests banning children under 11 from having a mobile phone and prohibiting anyone under 13 from using smartphones with internet access.

4. More on technology on Agenda

A new era of hyperspectral imaging satellites can monitor and analyze the unique chemical fingerprints of plants, fabrics and other objects on Earth from space. This technology's applications include preventing crop failures, finding gold or mineral deposits and safeguarding the environment from polluters and climate change. Here's what you need to know.

Battery energy storage systems (BESS) can help address the challenge of intermittent renewable energy. Large-scale deployment of this technology is hampered by perceived financial risks and lack of secured financial models. Innovative financial models can encourage both project developers and users, resulting in widespread adoption of BESS.

Demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is cooling in many markets, despite ambitious government targets, write two experts. EVs are key in the switch to sustainable transportation, but speedy global adoption poses implications for both energy security and the economy. A steady and sustainable switch is preferable and would protect the myriad industries and jobs that rely on the status quo in the global auto trade.

1. Solar storms disrupt satellites and other tech2. Saudi Arabia launches Centre for Space Futures3. In brief: Other tech stories to know 4. More on technology on Agenda

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum