Planet Forward, Hitachi & Rainforest Connection Join Forces to Defend the Rainforest, Anglo-American Builds World’s Largest Hydrogen-Powered Truck!

by | Sep 9, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Planet Forward, plus Hitachi and Rainforest Connection join forces to defend the Rainforest. And giant mining company Anglo-American builds world’s largest hydrogen-powered truck!



Emmy Award-winning journalist Frank Sesno believes effective environmental and science communication is needed now more than ever. So he formed Planet Forward in 2009 to empower new voices and lead a global conversation on the planet’s future. 

It’s is a project of the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs, teaches, celebrates, and rewards environmental storytelling by college students. It is the premier engagement tool for GW’s many sustainability initiatives.

The goal of Planet Forward is to engage a diverse audience of college students from across the country using storytelling, media, and educational events to tell the stories of invention and innovation that can move the planet forward. 

Just one of the ways the organization works with students is through its annual storytelling contest, Storyfest. Since 2016, it’s sought out stories surrounding the people, ideas, and innovations moving the world toward a greener future. Stories that inspire, motivate, and drive change. Stories that are compelling, thought-provoking, and vibrantly stimulating.

The 2022 competition is closed, but in case you’re keen on submitting your climate change story in 2023, here are the award categories: Best Science Narrative; Most Compelling Character; Most Creative Story; Best Use of Science and Data (love that one): and Best Scalable Innovation.

We’ll be reporting on Planet Forward’s 2022 Storyfest finalists and winners once they’re announced. And why does Planet Forward matter to us? Effective storytelling is the best way to communicate innovations and ideas seeking to address the urgent social and environmental sustainability challenges facing humanity, as well as the best way to communicate solutions across the globe. 

DEEPER DIVE: Planet Forward, GWU



Protecting the world’s threatened rainforests is key to slowing climate change. Trees trap large amounts of carbon dioxide and evaporate water, creating thick cloud cover that reflects sunlight and cools the earth below. But this vital global resource is being depleted at an alarming rate, as illegal and legal logging destroys more than 32 million1 acres of rainforest each year.

The first step in protecting a threatened environment is to understand what’s happening there. That’s not easy in the world’s rainforests, which often extend across millions of acres. Rainforest Connection, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, wanted to build technical solutions and partnerships around the world to help fight deforestation, protect the environment and educate people about the natural world. Starting with a big idea, it needed an innovative tech partner to bring the concept to life and scale it up to protect rainforests across the globe.

Hitachi and Rainforest Connection worked together to co-create and design a solution that collects acoustic data from deep within vast rainforest ecosystems. Once the expansive soundscape was acquired, the next step was to gain insight into this vast aural environment by separating sounds related to logging activity from natural sounds of animals, insects and vegetation.

Topher White, CEO and founder of Rainforest Connection, said, “We looked into ways that all these great enthusiastic people at Hitachi could get involved in the work that we do.” Rainforest Connection has developed small custom logic boards as forest listening devices, placing them on treetops with solar panels to provide their power. The units, called “guardians,” upload a continuous recording of the forest’s soundscape, transmitting the audio to the cloud for further acoustic analysis.

Why does this matter to us? It’s proof that a private multinational can collaborate with an NGO to empower local partners, indigenous tribes, and local people with timely alerts to fight against deforestation and poaching. The data-powered system devised by Rainforest Connection and Hitachi uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to deliver rapid insight into what’s happening in vast forest ecosystems, identify potentially harmful behavior, and help communities pinpoint damaging activity before it happens.

DEEPER DIVE: YouTube, Hitachi



When Anglo American sought help designing a prototype of what would become the largest hydrogen-electric mining vehicle, no heavy equipment manufacturer wanted any part of it. So the mining and resources group designed it themselves. Investing over $70M, the nuGen dump truck combines multiple fuel cells with a 1.2 MWh battery pack for a total output of 2 MW and can carry a payload of 290 tons.

The nuGen project is a fully integrated hydrogen system consisting of production, refueling and transportation systems, with green hydrogen produced at the mine site. Under the slogan “Future Smart Mining,” the Group is pursuing what it says is an innovation-driven approach to sustainable mining, bringing together technology and digitalization.

The vehicle itself weighs 220 tons, which with the payload results in a total weight of up to 510 tons. The vehicle is not a new one. Anglo-American converted an existing monster  dump truck from a diesel engine to a hydrogen-electric drive.

In announcing the prototype, Anglo-America CEO Duncan Wanblad said, “The impact of our nuGen™ project goes far beyond our operations. We believe that the emerging hydrogen sector has the potential to dramatically improve the growth and development of many economies by creating new industrial value chains and economic generation opportunities, will revolutionize all mining and many other industries – and ultimately shape a better, cleaner world.”

Why does this hydrogen-powered monster mining dump truck matter to us? According to some estimates, if this pilot is successful, it could remove up to 80% of diesel emissions at open pit mines by rolling this technology across Anglo-American’s global fleet. By 2040, the company aims to be CO2 neutral. Check out their video by clicking on the YouTubevlink in the Deeper Dive section of this story at

DEEPER DIVE: CarScoops, Bloomberg, YouTube