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Catalyst with Shayle Kann

English, Technology, 1 seasons, 118 episodes, 3 days 16 hours 38 minutes
About
Investor Shayle Kann is asking big questions about how to decarbonize the planet: How cheap can clean energy get? Will artificial intelligence speed up climate solutions? Where is the smart money going into climate technologies? Every week on Catalyst, Shayle explains the world of "climate tech" with prominent experts, investors, researchers, and executives. The show is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.
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The electric transformer shortage

The list of things that depend on transformers is long: new housing, EV chargers, renewable projects, and more. That’s why skyrocketing lead times and prices for grid equipment that raises or lowers voltage is a real problem. The wait for a new transformer has jumped to over two years, according to WoodMackenzie. Back in 2020 it took just a few months, according to Tim Mills, CEO at transformer manufacturer ERMCO. WoodMackenzie found that prices, meanwhile, have risen over 60% since 2020.  So what’s causing the shortage? In this episode, Shayle talks to Tim about how rising demand for transformers has pushed manufacturers to capacity – and why it’s been so hard for manufacturers to expand that capacity. They also cover topics like: The state of the shortage, including prices, lead times and types of transformers that are in especially short supply. The major drivers of demand growth, including renewables, storms, federal investment, and EV chargers. How the housing boom and bust of
22/02/202434 minutes 17 seconds
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Frontier Forum: Diving into the booming transferable tax credit market

It's been a year and a half since the Inflation Reduction Act was passed. In that time, we've seen $110 billion in planned investments for factories that are pumping out electric cars, batteries, solar modules, and wind towers.  The upper end of 2030 forecasts show nearly twice as much zero-carbon generation getting built compared with scenarios without the law in place. Much of this activity is the result of a new shift in the US tax code that allows wind, solar, storage, hydrogen, carbon capture, and manufacturing tax incentives to be sold for cash. It’s creating a lot more deal volume as many more companies can now buy those credits to support new development. “This very rarely happens that a new market forms basically overnight. The private estimates on how big the market gets get it to something like $80 or $100 billion dollars by the back half of the decade,” said Alfred Johnson, co-founder and CEO of Crux, speaking at Latitude Media’s Frontier Forum. In January, Crux closed an $
20/02/202427 minutes 15 seconds
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More 2024 trends: ESG, carbon certifications, curtailment, and AI

There was so much to talk about in Nat Bullard’s 200-page slide deck on 2024’s biggest decarbonization trends that we broke the conversation into two parts. For the first half of our conversation with Nat, listen here.  Nat has worked as an analyst and writer in climate tech for two decades and was BloombergNEF’s chief content officer until 2022. In this second part of the conversation, Shayle and Nat cover topics like: How ESG has become the new third rail of finance, falling out of the spotlight of corporate reports and the annual Larry letter  The vexing problem of what to do with curtailed power and why we need to design around the intermittency Whether you can have too many carbon certification standards How biodiesel is eating up Europe’s biofuel supply First Solar’s underappreciated success in surviving the decline of U.S. solar manufacturing Plus: Declining hydropower, slowing coal growth, and the rising hype around AI Recommended resources: Nathaniel Bullard: Decarboni
15/02/202442 minutes 37 seconds
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2024 trends: batteries, transferable tax credits, and the cost of capital

We’re back for round two, with even more slides than last year. This year’s annual slide deck from Nat Bullard has 200 pages on the key trends shaping decarbonization in 2024. Nat has worked as an analyst and writer in climate tech for two decades and was BloombergNEF’s chief content officer until 2022. We’ve split the conversation into two parts. In this first part, Shayle and Nat cover topics like:  The state of batteries, including the rapid growth of LFP chemistries, the concentration of manufacturing capacity, and the wild ride of lithium prices. The rapid growth of transferable tax credits and how that unlocks capital for renewables. How the rising cost of capital has reshaped climate tech. Recommended resources: Nathaniel Bullard: Decarbonization: Stocks and flows, abundance and scarcity, net zero Latitude Media: Clean energy capital is getting pricier WSJ: Companies Are Snapping Up New Clean-Energy Tax Credits Catalyst is supported by Antenna Group. For 25 years, Antenna
08/02/202451 minutes 41 seconds
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What’s really happening in the U.S. EV market?

A recent slew negative headlines about U.S. EVs makes it feel like the sky is falling on the market. Yet the data show robust growth. Combined battery electric and plug-in hybrid sales in 2023 were up 50% from 2022. Meanwhile, EV market share reached 9.5% in 2023, up from 7.5% in 2022, according to BloombergNEF.  Still, there have been real signs of changing expectations. GM and Ford have downsized their EV ambitions. Hertz sold off 20,000 Teslas. And Elon Musk tried to temper expectations in last week’s disappointing Tesla earnings call.  So why all the conflicting indicators?  In this episode, Shayle talks to BloombergNEF analyst Corey Cantor. They talk about the changing outlook on the speed of EV adoption as the focus shifts from early adopters to the mass market. They talk through the persistent challenges EVs face, like slow charger rollout and lack of affordable price points. They also cover topics like: Whether sales challenges are more of an overall market problem or a legacy
01/02/202436 minutes 15 seconds
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Solving the cow burp problem

Agriculture in the U.S. produces more methane than the American oil and gas industry, and the biggest share of that agricultural methane is from enteric fermentation – essentially cow burps. Cows and other ruminant animals release methane because of the way they digest food. And as animal protein consumption rises, so will enteric emissions. It’s a problem for climate change, but also for farmers. Methane is wasted energy that could have been used for beef or dairy production – and so enteric methane production is a challenge that researchers have been trying to solve for years. Some promising solutions are starting to make it into practice. In this episode, Shayle talks to Charles Brooke, program manager for enteric methane at Spark Climate Solutions. Shayle and Charles cover topics like: Why most enteric methane comes from small-holder pasture-raised animals, instead of feed-lot-raised animals. The different solutions in the pipeline, such as better livestock management, feed addit
26/01/202442 minutes 1 second
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Sourcing biomass for carbon removal

Plants capture hundreds of gigatons of carbon every year in timber, crops, and other forms of biomass. Much of that carbon gets released back into the atmosphere through natural processes and human intervention. But there are a few ways that we can lock it away for good, like biochar, bio-oil, and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or BECCS — all processes that fall under the umbrella of biomass carbon removal. The International Panel on Climate Change calls carbon removal “unavoidable” — and biomass is a leading carbon removal contender. But everyone wants a slice of the biomass pie. Airlines want it for jet fuel. Midwestern legislators want it for ethanol. Homebuilders want it for construction. Oh, and humans want it for food. By 2050 potential demand for biomass could far outstrip supply.  So what kinds of biomass should we use for carbon removal — and where should we get that biomass from? In this episode, Shayle talks with Dr. Bodie Cabiyo, senior forest scientist at clima
19/01/202448 minutes 19 seconds
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2023 climate tech venture investment trends

Venture and early-stage investment in climate tech in 2023 was down 30% from 2022, according to market intelligence firm Sightline Climate. But is that a bad thing? In this episode, Shayle unpacks the findings of Sightline’s 2023 Climate Tech Investment Trends report with Kim Zou, co-founder and CEO of the firm, which also produces the popular CTVC newsletter. (Shayle is an adviser to Sightline, and Kim was also previously a partner at Energy Impact Partners where Shayle works.) Kim argues that numbers suggest that the early-stage climate tech space is actually maturing, citing smaller deal sizes, steady deal count, and more repeat investors.  The data focus on venture and early-stage capital, rather than non-equity financing, which actually expanded in 2023, another sign that climate tech finance is becoming more sophisticated. Shayle and Kim also cover topics like: Why food and land use fell out of the top three verticals (and why heavy industry took its place). Major funding round
11/01/202443 minutes 53 seconds
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Fixing the messy voluntary carbon market

The voluntary carbon market is a mess. Oil majors, big tech, and many other industries purchase voluntary credits hoping to offset their carbon emissions. But years of reporting have revealed major problems in the industry, from worthless credits to outright fraud. Amid allegations that many of its credits might actually worsen global warming, the CEO of the largest issuer of credits, Verra, resigned last year. And so perhaps it’s no surprise that the market for traditional offsets like renewable energy credits and avoidance credits shrank in recent years. Yet the market for a newer type of credit, carbon removal, is actually growing.  So what’s behind this bifurcation in the market? And are the voluntary carbon markets fixable? In this episode, Shayle talks to Ryan Orbuch, partner at Lowercarbon Capital. He leads the firm’s carbon removal work. Ryan argues the market is fixable with major reforms, like overhauling incentives and ditching the idea that the voluntary carbon market can o
04/01/202448 minutes 28 seconds
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Financing first-of-a-kind climate assets

There’s a hole in the finance world. Fighting climate change means scaling up lots of new technologies, but financing those first-of-a-kind (FOAK) projects is incredibly difficult. New technologies involving things like sustainable aviation fuel, geothermal, and direct air capture can take a decade or more to scale up. But venture capital is too expensive for FOAK projects, while infrastructure finance is too risk-averse. So what solutions could solve the FOAK financing problem?  In this episode, Shayle talks to longtime climatetech investor David Yeh. He was most recently the managing director at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. He was also a senior advisor on climatetech in the Obama administration. They cover topics like: Different approaches to FOAK, like off-balance sheet, structured finance, catalytic capital, and government programs. Examples of companies that solved the FOAK problem Code switching between venture capitalists and infrastructure financiers. (Try using t
21/12/202346 minutes 7 seconds
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What do you do with a 100-hour battery?

It’s time to get specific. In the power industry “long-duration energy storage” could mean anything from 4 to 10 to 100 hours of energy. But Form Energy’s Mateo Jaramillo argues that batteries in the ballpark of 100 hours hit a sweet spot, and that sweet spot deserves its own term: multi-day storage. In the 15 minute to 12 hour range, lithium-ion batteries shine, effectively displacing natural gas peaker plants that run less than 5% of the year. But they don’t displace higher-capacity generation. Nor do they meet the needs of the grid during significant weather events, like heat domes, Nor'easters and freak Texas winter storms that can last upwards of 75 hours. And for that, Mateo says we need multi-day storage.  Form Energy’s iron-air batteries made headlines back in 2021 for promising to deliver tens of hours of storage at a low cost per kilowatt hour. (Energy Impact Partners, where Shayle is a partner, invests in Form Energy.) So what role could multi-day storage play on the grid? I
14/12/202349 minutes 9 seconds
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Update: What the new Treasury rules mean for EV supply chains

The U.S. Treasury proposed guidance last Friday that would significantly restrict what battery parts and materials can qualify for incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act. The rules label China and several other countries as “foreign entities of concern.” These rules will prevent materials and parts sourced from those countries, starting in the next few years, from counting toward the IRA’s electric vehicle tax credits. The new rules are meant to push battery companies to develop supply chains outside the control of Chinese officials and companies, which control much of the world’s battery industry. They come following a first batch of guidance released this year by the Treasury, which the IRA tasked with developing specific rules for implementing the law. So what does the new guidance mean for battery supply chains? This episode features two conversations with Sam Jaffe, senior director of business development at Addionics. The first is a short update on last week’s proposed rules.
07/12/202346 minutes 59 seconds
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EV charging on both sides of the pond

For those of us in the U.S., Europe's strong electric vehicle market might offer a glimpse into the future of EV charging. In 2022 the electrification haven of Norway had a whopping 166 plugin-in electric vehicles per 1,000 residents. Germany had 20 per 1,000 residents and Europe’s largest fleet, based on reporting by Euronews. That’s far ahead of the U.S., which averaged 8.6 in 2022, according to Argonne National Laboratory. So, it stands to reason that these countries must have insights into how to get all these vehicles charged. And Europe does indeed have a lot to teach the U.S. — but it turns out the lessons might actually go both ways.  In this episode, Shayle talks to Nick Woolley, CEO and co-founder of charging management company ev.energy, which operates in both the U.S. and Europe. (Shayle’s firm Energy Impact Partners is also an investor in ev.energy.) They discuss topics like: EV adoption rates and charging patterns by region The fragmented European charging networks and
30/11/202338 minutes 43 seconds
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The cost of nuclear

Nuclear construction costs in the U.S. are some of the highest in the world. Recent estimates put it at more than $6,000 per kilowatt, as measured by overnight capital cost. But high costs are a problem for new small modular reactors (SMRs) too, killing what was going to be the country’s first small modular reactor before it got built. On the other hand, South Korea has some of the lowest costs in the world. Estimated overnight capital costs for reactors in South Korea are closer to $2,200 per kilowatt. And then there are countries like China, France, and the United Arab Emirates that fall between those extremes. So why the wide range in costs?  In this episode, Shayle talks to Dr. Jessica Lovering, co-founder and executive director at the Good Energy Collective, a non-profit that researches and promotes policies that support nuclear power. A former director of energy at the Breakthrough Institute, she also authored a comprehensive study of nuclear construction costs in 2016.  Shayle a
16/11/202347 minutes 48 seconds
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Mailbag episode! Interest rates, carbon dioxide removal, load growth, and more

It’s about that time again. You sent in great questions for Shayle, and in this episode we’re tackling them with the help of Sarah Golden, vice president of energy at GreenBiz. Together Shayle and Sarah cover topics like: Load growth and whether data-center demand is good or bad for decarbonization. The crash in photovoltaic module prices and what it means for the solar industry. The impact of interest rates on climatetech. The challenges of siting carbon dioxide pipelines. Why there’s no clear winning technology for carbon dioxide removal. European energy companies acquiring U.S. companies. Why Shayle is bullish on the macro grid, despite the slow pace of interconnection and transmission buildout. Plus: volcanoes, Frankenstein, and Shayle’s childhood with geodes. Recommended Resources: Catalyst: Navigating the electrification gauntlet Canary: The US offshore wind industry faces a moment of reckoning S&P Global: Cancellation of Navigator CO2 pipeline raises critical issu
09/11/202355 minutes 4 seconds
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The Volts crossover episode

Some technologies grab the spotlight even beyond #energytwitter, and some fly under the radar. Which ones are getting more attention than they deserve, and which aren’t getting enough? This is the episode you never knew you needed: Shayle talks to Volts host David Roberts about the most underhyped and overhyped trends in climatetech right now. David has written about clean technology for the past two decades, first at Grist and then at Vox. He now writes a newsletter and hosts a podcast of the same. Together, Shayle and David cover topics like: Why this new wave of thermal storage technology is different. Small modular reactors and why David and Shayle disagree on how much hype they deserve Why rising interest rates are starting to become a big problem for climatetech. The Inflation Reduction Act and how people still don’t grasp how big of a deal it is. Plus: electric stovetops, mineral bottlenecks, and networked geothermal. We want your climatetech questions for Shayle’s Ask Me
03/11/20231 hour 10 minutes 7 seconds
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The market for microgrids

We want your climatetech questions for Shayle’s Ask Me Anything episode! Email questions to us at [email protected]. You can also tag us on Twitter or LinkedIn with the hashtag #AskCatalyst. Or you can leave us a voicemail at 919-808-5832. The electrification gauntlet is this: The more we electrify, the more we ask of the grid. New demands on the grid are coming right as it’s facing some of its biggest challenges, like interconnection delays, transmission congestion, and extreme weather. But there’s a way to take some of the strain off the grid when it doesn’t deliver what you need – Build your own! Microgrids, as they’re called, are electrical networks that can function independent of the larger grid. So how do they scale? And what counts as a microgrid, anyway? In this episode, Shayle talks to Tim Hade, co-founder and chief development officer at Scale Microgrids. (Scale was a launch sponsor of Latitude Media, which co-produces this show. This interview is independent of tha
26/10/202345 minutes 32 seconds
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The pace of home electrification

Heat pumps in 140 million U.S. homes by 2050 — that’s the goal laid out in Rewiring America’s recent report on the pace of home electrification. It’s a daunting target for a country that had heat pumps in only 17 million homes in 2020. But we’re not that far off. According to Rewiring America, the U.S. is currently on track to install about five million heat pumps by 2025, only about two and a half million short of the pace we need to reach 140 million homes by midcentury. So what can we do to close the gap? What about other major categories of home electrification like water heaters and induction stoves — are we on pace to reach net-zero targets there? In this episode, Shayle talks to Stephen Pantano, head of market transformation at Rewiring America, about the organization’s Pace of Progress report. They cover topics like: The adoption targets for water heaters, induction stoves, and other efficient home appliances The roughly $9 billion in incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act
19/10/202337 minutes 9 seconds
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How is U.S. industrial policy affecting actual climatetech investment?

In climatetech circles, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was a big deal. The expectation was that, combined with other parts of U.S. industrial policy like the CHIPS and Science Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the IRA would transform the American economy and ultimately slash U.S. carbon emissions.  We can’t see the impact on carbon emissions yet, but we can measure the initial effects on the economy. So how’s it going so far? In this episode, Shayle talks to Trevor Houser, partner at the Rhodium Group, about the organization’s new Clean Investment Monitor, a database of climatetech investments developed with the MIT Center on Energy and Environmental Policy Research. Trevor highlights three different categories of policy impacts: Sectors where policy accelerated existing trends, like solar deployment and EV sales. Sectors where policy catalyzed new growth that probably would not have happened otherwise, like in manufacturing, hydrogen, carbon management, and sustainable aviat
12/10/202352 minutes 20 seconds
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What electric forklifts teach us about creative policy [partner content]

This is a partner podcast episode, brought to you by DNV. Wes Whited and Angie Ziech-Malek work for DNV designing efficiency, electrification, and decarbonization programs for utilities. And lately, they’ve been paying attention to electric forklifts. There are 1.5 million forklifts sold in the U.S. every year. And converting that vast fleet to run on lithium-ion batteries could be a cost-effective way to boost electrification – and add a helpful resource for demand management to the grid. Speeding up adoption means getting the utility involved in the education and promotion process. The forklift example is one of many creative approaches to program design that are emerging in the wake of the Inflation Reduction Act, which expanded incentives for a wide range of clean energy technologies. In this episode, Wes and Angie talk with Stephen Lacey about how technology progress, creative thinking, and the Inflation Reduction Act are all aligning in transformative ways. After you listen to th
11/10/202314 minutes 49 seconds
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Climate tech startups need strong techno-economic analysis (TEA)

We have a flash sale for Transition-AI: New York through October 9th. Use the code FLASH30 to get 30% off your ticket price to our event on AI + energy. Spots are limited, so don't miss out! This might be our wonkiest topic yet: Techno-economic analysis, or TEA.  Before a startup has proven that its technology is commercially viable, it models how its technology would work. These TEAs include things like assumptions about inputs, prices, and market landscape. They help investors and entrepreneurs answer the question, will this technology compete? TEAs are important to the success of an early-stage climate-tech company. And a lot of startups get them wrong. As an investor at Energy Impact Partners (EIP), Shayle and his team see a lot of TEAs—and have some pet peeves. What can startups do to improve their TEAs? In this episode, Shayle talks to his colleagues Dr. Greg Thiel, EIP’s director of technology, and Dr. Melissa Ball, EIP’s associate director of technology. They cover topics like:
05/10/202349 minutes 39 seconds
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Reviving the stagnant plant based meat market

It was 2020 and plant-based meats were hot. Sales were up 45% that year and expectations were high. The industry set its sights on performing as well as plant-based beverages, which had reached about a 15% dollar share of the U.S. cow-based milk market at the time. In the $300 billion U.S. meat market, a 15% share would be a massive $45 billion prize. But then, starting in 2021, plant-based meats hit a wall. U.S. sales began three consecutive years of declines. Headlines described plant-based meats as “bleeding” and “just another fad”. So what happened? In this episode, Shayle talks to John Baumgartner, managing director of equity research for food and healthy living at Mizuho Securities. He explains the major factors that led to the decline—and why he’s still bullish on the long-term growth of the industry. They cover topics like: Why the plant-based beverage category is so different from plant-based meats Major factors in sales, including the Covid-19 bounce, flatlining household p
28/09/202340 minutes 49 seconds
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Fixing interconnection

Everything's bigger in Texas—the hats, the boots, the convenience stores. But its interconnection times? They’re surprisingly short. In the U.S. it takes power generators four years on average to get approval to connect to the grid, and in some places, it takes far longer. In the Texas electricity market, it takes only about 1.5 years between interconnection request and agreement. And it costs way less to interconnect, too.  The results are telling. The Texas grid, operated by the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, has installed more wind power than any other state—40+ gigawatts worth. It’s also installed 19 gigawatts of solar power, second only to California. ERCOT has interconnected two times more generation than PJM, an electricity market in the Mid-Atlantic, even though PJM is two times larger than ERCOT in terms of peak load.  So what does Texas know about interconnection that the rest of the U.S. doesn’t? And how could other states learn from Texas?  In this epis
21/09/202344 minutes
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Stopping geoengineering, by accident

Solar geoengineering is a hot (er, cool?) topic these days. One method involves injecting a form of sulfur into the atmosphere to reflect solar radiation and help reduce global temperatures. But it could also cause unpredictable changes to ozone, rainfall, and ecosystems. So when a rogue startup began sending balloons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere last year, it sparked outrage. But here’s the thing: We’ve been geoengineering our atmosphere for decades, just not intentionally. Scientists have long known that sulfur dioxide emissions from maritime shipping have a cooling effect on the atmosphere. They brighten clouds and reflect more solar radiation. We’ve also known that sulfur dioxide is a toxic air pollutant that causes tens of thousands of premature deaths per year.  So in 2020 when the International Maritime Organization, which regulates shipping, required ships to drastically cut their sulfur dioxide emissions, it reduced air pollution. But it also accidentally warmed the s
14/09/202346 minutes 25 seconds
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The food-energy nexus

Last time we talked to Dr. Michael Webber, we dug into the nexus between water and energy. This episode we’re diving into food. The connections are myriad. Food itself is just a means of energy storage, and a particularly good one at that. While photosynthesis is remarkably inefficient—averaging only 0.3% globally, compared to 90% or more in an electric motor—it stores energy for weeks to years. In the U.S. we use around 12% of our energy to produce food, in the form of inputs like diesel, fertilizer, and electricity. Meanwhile, the food system itself provides fuel to the rest of the energy system, through ethanol and other forms of bioenergy. So how do all these things fit together?  In this episode, Shayle talks to Dr. Webber, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas–Austin, and chief technology officer at Energy Impact Partners, where Shayle is a partner. They cover topics like: The Green revolution, which added more energy to food production, improving yields
08/09/202339 minutes 13 seconds
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Can the V2X dream become reality?

Here’s the dream: Millions of EVs plugged into their charging docks, working in concert to relieve stress on the world’s power grids. They reduce charging load or even inject energy back onto the grid. They back up renewables when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine.  That’s the vision for managed charging, or V1G, and vehicle-to-grid, or V2G. There’s also a third technology called vehicle-to-home that allows an EV battery to power a building, just like a home battery. Collectively these technologies are called V2X. There’s reason to think this V2X dream could become a reality. They’re already happening at small scales. And when they reach larger scales, the cumulative impact could be big. A recent Nature study found that by 2030 the total battery capacity across the world’s mobile batteries could be more than two terawatt hours, climbing to more than 30 terawatt hours by 2050. But first, these technologies need to overcome some big barriers—costly grid upgrades, degrading b
31/08/202338 minutes 56 seconds
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Seeking the holy grail of batteries (Rerun)

If there were a holy grail of electric vehicle batteries, it would be low-weight, long-range, and fast-charging. It would last a million miles and cost less than anything produced today. So in the booming EV battery market, what kind of battery will check all those boxes? Who will invent it? And do we really need all those features in one battery in the first place? In this episode, Shayle talks to Sam Jaffe, vice president of battery solutions at E-Source. They trace the history of the two major competing lithium-ion chemistries: Lithium Iron (or ferrous) Phosphate (LFP) and Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC). Sam and Shayle also discuss the factors that shaped this competition, like China, Tesla, and access to capital. They discuss new partnerships between battery manufacturers and automakers, including LG and GM, Samsung SDI and Stellantis, ACC and Mercedes And they cover questions like: Who decides which chemistries to develop — automakers or battery part manufacturers?  Will a small
24/08/202356 minutes 4 seconds
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Navigating the electricity gauntlet

Electrification should be a field day for utilities. As we electrify the economy, adding gigafactories, charging stations, and green hydrogen hubs to the grid, the demand for power is growing for the first time in decades. For savvy utilities, there’s a lot of money to be made. But only if they can keep up.  Utilities face massive challenges to deliver the power needed for electrification – years-long interconnection queues, a shortage of transformers, an uncertain regulatory environment—the list goes on. It’s the electrification gauntlet.  Can utilities make it through?  In this episode, Shayle talks to his colleague Andy Lubershane, partner and head of research at Energy Impact Partners.  They cover topics like: Why power demand flatlined over the past twenty years—and what’s changing now Big industrial loads like data centers that face delays because utilities aren’t able to deliver enough power  The differences between big industrial load growth, like green hydrogen hubs, and di
17/08/202351 minutes 17 seconds
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Beaming 24/7 solar… from space

It’s the highest-intensity solar power you can get. It’s available 24/7. And you can send it anywhere on earth. All you need to do is launch a ten-by-ten kilometer array of solar panels into geosynchronous orbit, capture solar energy, and beam it to earth using a massive antenna array. Then set up a receiver a few kilometers in diameter on earth to collect that power and send it to the grid.  Sound like science fiction? You wouldn’t be far off (looking at you, Isaac Asimov). But the reality is that Caltech, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, and the Japanese Space Agency are all working on the idea. Recent developments in space tech warrant some cautious optimism about space-based solar. Space X has pioneered reusable rockets that have dramatically reduced the cost of launches. And mass production of satellites has brought down the cost of hardware, too. So how would space-based solar actually work? And what would it take to commercialize it? In this episode, Shayle talks to Sanjay Vi
10/08/202348 minutes 52 seconds
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With Great Power: What other industries can teach utilities about innovation

This week we’re bringing you a special crossover episode from With Great Power. It’s a show about one of the most complex machines ever built – the power grid. It’s a machine that’s changing faster than ever. With Great Power is about the people driving that change: A third of the world's largest companies now have net-zero targets in place for carbon emissions. Google was ahead of the curve. Back in 2007, it had already achieved its goal of going carbon neutral across all of its offices and data centers around the globe. But as demand for Google's services expanded, it knew that it had to overhaul its energy goals. At the time, Raiford Smith served as Google's global head of energy and location strategy. And part of his job was jump-starting this massive effort. In 2021, Google launched one of the most ambitious corporate energy strategies ever. And Raiford and his team made it possible. After a career spanning more than 30 years at utilities like Duke Energy, CPS, Entergy, and Southe
04/08/202328 minutes 24 seconds
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Mining the deep sea

The good news: The Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) contains more nickel and cobalt than the rest of the world’s land-based reserves combined. It also has significant resources of high-grade lithium, copper and rare earth metals—all of which are critical for the batteries the world needs to meet Paris Agreement targets. The bad news: The CCZ lies at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and contains biodiverse ecosystems we know very little about—and that we could profoundly harm if we mine them. The CCZ lies between Hawaii and Mexico and is about half the size of the continental United States. And it’s just one of many potential deep-sea sources of critical minerals. So should we mine the deep sea to fight climate change? And if we do, how do we also protect seafloor ecosystems? In this episode, Shayle talks to Renee Grogan, an expert in deep-sea mining. She is a co-founder and board director at Impossible Metals.  Together they cover topics like: The different types of seafloor resources, in
27/07/202350 minutes 4 seconds
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The good and bad of carbon capture

Carbon capture and storage. It’s a controversial tool in the energy transition that we don’t want to use, but probably have to. Most of the scenarios in the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report include capturing and storing hundreds of gigatons of carbon dioxide between now and 2100.  When people say carbon capture and storage, or CCS, they often mean different things. It’s a term that covers multiple technologies used to capture CO2—such as point-source and direct-air capture— and different approaches to using that CO2.  With the CCS industry is in its infancy, tackling some big questions now could save us headaches down the road. Questions about CCS infrastructure use, where we’ll build it, and who will control it. In this episode, Shayle talks to Dr. Emily Grubert, associate professor of sustainable energy policy at the University of Notre Dame. She posted a Twitter thread recently about how the same CCS infrastructure actually has four different use cases: Avoiding emissions to extend t
20/07/202343 minutes 22 seconds
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The early days of transoceanic hydrogen transport

Before hydrogen makes it big, we have to overcome a massive, ocean-sized challenge: Transporting the fuel between continents.  The places that will be best suited to produce hydrogen via renewables-powered electrolysis, like Australia and Egypt, will have to ship that hydrogen to demand centers in Japan, Europe, and elsewhere. And it turns out that shipping hydrogen is way harder than shipping oil or natural gas. Hydrogen has a very low volumetric energy density. Compared to one barrel of oil, the equivalent amount of gaseous hydrogen takes up way more space to transport. Fortunately, a range of technologies could solve this problem. Will one become the dominant means of transporting hydrogen across the oceans? In this episode, Shayle talks to Anne-Sophie Corbeau, a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy. Anne-Sophie recently wrote about hydrogen transport for Cipher News.  They cover the five leading contenders for transoceanic transport:
13/07/202344 minutes 11 seconds
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The fungus among us

Underground networks of fungi store more than a third of the world’s current greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new peer-reviewed study in Current Biology.  That’s a whopping 13 gigatons of carbon. Mycorrhizal fungi act as a symbiotic partner of plants, seeking out nutrients and bringing them back to the plants’ roots. In return, they accept carbon in the form of carbohydrates—which they then lock away in the structure of the fungi. This symbiotic relationship is nothing new to scientists; what’s surprising is the magnitude of carbon stored. But how permanent is this storage? And what can we do to support fungi as a nature-based climate solution? In this episode, Shayle talks to Dr. Heidi-Jayne Hawkins, lead author of the new paper and research director at Conservation South Africa.  They cover topics like: The evolutionary history of mycorrhizal fungi  The mechanics of fungal carbon storage, which boosts carbon storage by 5-20% more than plants alone What we can do to support
29/06/202335 minutes 41 seconds
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Building out a U.S. solar supply chain

Everything, everywhere, all at once—that’s the state of the U.S. solar industry right now. Suppliers are rushing to take advantage of the Inflation Reduction Act’s generous domestic-manufacturing incentives. Major manufacturers like First Solar and Enel have announced billion dollar investments in places like Tulsa, Oklahoma and Lawrence County, Alabama. But tariffs on the import of some Chinese-made parts may resume at the end of 2024; and the industry still faces supply chain shortages and permitting backlogs. Meanwhile, the stakes are high. To reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the U.S. needs to install 100 gigawatts of solar per year by 2030, according to a report from the REPEAT Project of Princeton’s ZERO Lab, up from about 30 gigawatts this year.  Is that achievable in this chaotic environment?  In this episode, Shayle talks about the state of the U.S. solar industry with Ethan Zindler, head of Americas at BloombergNEF. They cover topics like: Generous manufacturing incen
22/06/202345 minutes 15 seconds
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AI for climate: a real world test

The list of potential uses for AI in climatetech is growing fast: developing better materials, optimizing solar farms, integrating renewables and microgrids. But many of these are still theoretical. We wanted to find a real-world application that changed the way we make climatetech. So we decided to come up with our own test run. Back in March Duncan Campbell, vice president at Scale Microgrids, used ChatGPT to code some battery dispatch software and tweeted about his experience. Duncan isn’t a professional software developer, but he still came up with some promising results.  Could a non-coder like Duncan use AI to do the work of several climatetech coders? We invited Duncan to do it again and ramped up the challenge. We recruited Seyed Madaeni, CEO and co-founder of Verse to create a challenge for Duncan. Seyed is an expert in AI and the software used in electricity markets. He routinely sends “problem statements” to his team of software developers to create new software. This time,
15/06/20231 hour 20 minutes 59 seconds
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The carbon market’s quality problem

Voluntary carbon credits are a lot like used cars; you really have no idea what their quality might be. Or maybe they’re more like expensive bottles of wine. Most people (or at least Shayle) can’t tell if they’re buying good quality wine. If it’s expensive, it must be good, right? That’s the logic that has plagued voluntary carbon markets for years.  A carbon credit can work in two ways. First, it can avoid 1 metric ton of emissions that would have otherwise happened by, for example, preventing deforestation. Alternatively, a credit can directly remove a ton of carbon from the atmosphere through methods like direct air capture or biochar. But widespread reporting reveals that most credits don’t do what they say they do. Just this month the CEO of the world’s leading certifier stepped down after an analysis by The Guardian found that over 90% of rainforest carbon credits were worthless. In May, a new $1 billion California lawsuit alleged that the credits that Delta relied on for its cla
08/06/202349 minutes 8 seconds
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Keeping copper from limiting the energy transition

The energy transition is fueling skyrocketing demand for copper, an essential metal for renewables, batteries, and other climatetech. But supply isn’t keeping up. There’s more than enough copper in the earth’s known reserves to supply our growing demand for the metal, but supply is stagnating due to rising extraction costs and decades-long lead times to open new mines. A July 2022 report from S&P Global predicts that demand could begin to exceed supply in just a few years.. Without action, a growing supply gap could last into the 2050s, hampering the speed and scale of the transition. What can we do about it? In this episode, Shayle talks to Cristóbal Undurraga, the CEO of copper mining technology company Ceibo. They talk about the causes of stagnating supply and the technologies that could help increase production.  They cover topics like: Energy usage and carbon emissions in copper supply chains The limitations of scrap recycling to meet growing demand The geopolitics of copper su
01/06/202350 minutes 3 seconds
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Four ways to store sunlight

Are you a utility or climatetech startup looking to understand how artificial intelligence will shape your company? Come to our one-day event, Transition-AI: Boston, on June 15. Our listeners get a 20% discount with the code PSPODS20. On the Catalyst with Shayle Kann podcast this week: The good news: the U.S. has about 47 days’ worth of energy stored up for later use. The bad news? Virtually all of it is in the form of fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas. By comparison, if you add up all the energy stored in batteries, pumped hydropower and other zero-carbon storage, it adds up to just a few seconds’ worth. This small scale of low-carbon energy storage is a big problem. We’re building out intermittent renewables fast, and we need enough energy storage to back up wind when turbines slow down and solar when the sun isn’t shining.  But there are technologies that could get us there. In this episode, Shayle talks to his colleague Andy Lubershane, who is a partner and head of research
25/05/202358 minutes 33 seconds
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Unpacking EPA’s newly proposed power emissions rule

Are you a utility or climate tech startup looking to understand how artificial intelligence will shape your company? Come to our one-day event, Transition-AI: Boston on June 15. Our listeners get a 20% discount with the code PSPODS20. Last year, the Supreme Court struck down the EPA’s first attempt to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. But it also preserved the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The agency just needed to find the right approach. The question for the EPA was: What legal tools would pass the scrutiny of the court? Last week, Biden’s EPA came out with its answer. The proposed plan requires new and existing power plants to meet emission standards. The agency estimates that the rule would reduce GHG emissions by a total 617 million tons through 2042, a small but meaningful fraction of the total. Right now the U.S. power sector emits about 1.5 billion tons per year.  It’s an approach that dovetails with the Inflation Reduction Act (
18/05/202355 minutes 59 seconds
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The great Bitcoin energy debate

Depending on who you talk to, Bitcoin mines are either great for the grid or the worst thing that’s ever happened to it. These warehouses of computers essentially turn electricity into bitcoins. Proponents argue that mines can do a number of things for the grid, like: Support grid reliability by reducing demand during peak hours Incentivize new renewable generation by raising the prices that solar and wind farms receive Reduce methane emissions by capturing flare gas from fossil fuel wells and then using that gas to generate electricity for mine operations Meanwhile, opponents argue that the mines raise emissions and electricity prices. So how do we make sense of the great Bitcoin energy debate? In this episode, Shayle talks to Ben Hertz-Shargel, global head of grid edge at Wood Mackenzie. The New York Times recently reported on the role of Bitcoin mining on the grid, and Ben was part of a team that contributed to the report. Shayle and Ben discuss:  How Bitcoin mines affect elect
11/05/202349 minutes 19 seconds
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Understanding the transmission bottleneck

The U.S. power grid is clogged, and it’s holding back the energy transition.  Solar and wind farms are waiting four or more years to connect to the grid. Rising congestion costs are driving up retail electricity prices while hurting generator revenues. And the process of approving projects for interconnection is so complicated and expensive that it’s forcing developers to abandon the projects they were planning to build.  We need much more transmission capacity and a better process for connecting projects. And we need it now more than ever. Demand for power will skyrocket as we connect EVs, heat pumps and other new loads to the grid. But Rob Gramlich, our guest today, comes with good news: We did it before. We can do it again.  Rob is the founder and president of Grid Strategies. In this episode, Shayle and Rob talk through the three major challenges of transmission – congestion, interconnection, and buildout. And Rob explains how we’ve built out transmission in the past with efforts l
04/05/202342 minutes 11 seconds
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The Carbon Copy: A rogue geoengineering startup sparks worry

We’re bringing you a special crossover episode this week from Catalyst’s sister podcast, The Carbon Copy. It’s about a rogue startup that was trying to do something we’ve talked about on this show: solar geoengineering.  Last year, Time staff writer Alejandro de la Garza found himself on the floor of a hotel room in Nevada with two guys trying to cook sulfur dioxide out of a tin can.  Luke Iseman and Andrew Song are the co-founders of Make Sunsets, a startup claiming to be implementing solar geoengineering by launching weather balloons filled with SO2 into the stratosphere. Their first experimental launch in the Mexican state of Baja California resulted in a swift regulatory response from the Mexican government. But when they ran another test launch a few weeks ago just outside of Reno, Nevada, Luke invited Alejandro to join them.  This week, we speak with Alejandro about his Time profile of the controversial startup. Plus, we talk with geoengineering experts Holly Buck and Kevin Surpr
27/04/202327 minutes 25 seconds
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How to build more hydropower

Hydropower is the world’s largest source of renewable electricity today, according to the IEA. Like gas peaker plants, it’s highly dispatchable, meaning it can complement intermittent renewables like wind and solar.  And we could get a lot more of it. The IEA estimates that we could double the amount of energy produced globally. One peer-reviewed study found that global economic potential for hydropower was 21,000 terawatt hours per year, more than five times the current generation today.  So how could we deploy more hydropower? In this episode, guest host Lara Pierpoint talks to Gia Schneider, co-founder and CEO of Natel Energy, a hydropower technology company. One key argument Gia makes is that if we can build smaller projects with lower ecosystem impacts, we can tap into more zero-carbon power.  Gia and Lara talk through:  How quickly we need to build more hydropower to meet 2050 net-zero targets The benefits of traditional hydro as a full-stack grid resource Different types of hy
20/04/202354 minutes 33 seconds
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What the new Treasury rules mean for EV supply chains

The battery manufacturing announcements have been coming one after another—a VW cathode facility in Canada; a Tesla factory in Mexico; a Ford battery plant in Michigan. These companies hope to take advantage of the Inflation Reduction Act’s lucrative EV tax credits: Up to $3,750 for strategic minerals mined in the U.S. or its many free trade partner countries Up to $3,750 for battery components produced only in the U.S., Mexico, or Canada. But there’s a catch. A whole bunch of intermediate battery products don’t fit neatly into either bucket. For example, lithium gets processed into precursor cathode active material before it becomes cathode active material, the powder that actually makes it onto the factory floor of a battery manufacturer. Battery electrolytes go through multiple processing steps, too. Until last week, suppliers of these products were left wondering: Where should we manufacture to qualify? And for which credit? Congress had left these details up to the Treasury Dep
06/04/202334 minutes 44 seconds
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SVB, the banking crisis and climatetech

The run on Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) earlier this month was a hair-raising experience for anyone in climatetech. The bank catered to entrepreneurs in tech, especially climate. So when news of SVB’s troubled assets hit social media, startups scrambled to withdraw millions of dollars and draft emergency plans to make payroll. But after the Federal Insurance Deposit Corporation (FDIC) took over SVB and another troubled regional institution, Signature Bank, the dust started to settle. The FDIC announced that it would insure the full deposits at SVB, above the $250,000 guarantee.  But how did this all happen? And what does it mean for climatetech today? In this episode, Shayle talks to Saloni Multani, partner at Galvanize Climate Solutions and former chief financial officer for Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign. She came on the show last May to explain what the economic downturn meant for climatetech. This time Saloni and Shayle cover topics like: What led to the problems at SVB, Signature, and ot
30/03/202340 minutes 56 seconds
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Betting big on renewable natural gas

Landfills, dairy farms and wastewater plants all emit methane, the potent greenhouse gas produced when organic material decomposes in the absence of oxygen.  But instead of emitting that methane (often called biomethane or waste methane), it’s possible to capture and refine it, resulting in renewable natural gas, or RNG. Capturing methane that would have been emitted anyway (something that’s still up for debate) creates RNG that’s carbon neutral or carbon negative. And using that RNG to displace fossil-fuel derived natural gas can cut overall emissions. Big players in energy are betting big on RNG. Last fall BP acquired RNG producer Archaea for $4.1 billion, Shell bought Nature Energy for $2 billion and NextEra purchased $1.1 billion in RNG assets from Energy Power Partners. So what’s behind this recent flurry of activity? And to what extent could RNG actually offset carbon emissions?  In this episode, Shayle talks to Brandon Moffatt, cofounder of Stormfisher, an RNG and hydrogen produ
23/03/202345 minutes 36 seconds
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The greenhouse gas you don’t know about

Nitrous oxide or N2O is the third largest source of GHG emissions behind carbon dioxide and methane. Also known as laughing gas, it’s long-lived like carbon dioxide and incredibly potent like methane. And it accounts for about 6% of global warming.  So where does it come from? And what do we do about it? In this episode, Shayle talks to Eric Davidson, professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and principal scientist at Spark Climate Solutions. Eric studies the surprising source of nitrous oxide: bacteria in the soil. Eric and Shayle talk about topics like:  How the application of nitrogen fertilizer causes more emissions than the production of fertilizer itself The challenging economics of agriculture that cause farmers to over-apply fertilizer How precise and timely application of fertilizer could cut emissions New livestock feed additives that could replace the N2O-intensive crops in animal feed New crops that require less fertilizer Recommended
16/03/202347 minutes 58 seconds
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The Carbon Copy: The great electrician shortage

Come watch a live episode of The Carbon Copy! Canary Media and Post Script Media are hosting a live event at Greentown Labs in Somerville, Ma. on April 6. record a live episode of The Carbon Copy with some very special guests. Get your tickets today. We’re bringing you a special crossover episode this week from Catalyst’s sister podcast, The Carbon Copy. I host the show and we did an episode recently about this urgent climate tech problem: America’s shortage of electricians.  To decarbonize the economy, we need to electrify everything. That means installing millions of heat pumps, EV chargers, electric water heaters and rooftop solar panels.  But there’s one big problem: finding enough electricians to make it happen. Electricians across the country are flooded with work — and just as demand is skyrocketing, many in the field are nearing retirement age.  This week, in a special collaboration with Grist, reporter Emily Pontecorvo discusses where to find all the electricians we need to el
09/03/202332 minutes 40 seconds
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A theory of change for climate investing [partner content]

Last year’s surge in oil prices brought record windfall profits for oil majors, and a boon for investors. But historic trends don’t favor fossil fuels. From 2010 to 2020, the oil & gas sector underperformed the broader S&P 500 index. The sector gained 6% over that period, while the benchmark S&P index grew 180%. Some called it a "lost decade" for fossil fuel investors. “If anything, oil's been a drag,” says Zach Stein, the co-founder and CEO of Carbon Collective, a company building climate-focused portfolios for investors and employer 401(k) plans. The recent surge for the oil and gas sector shows how fundamental fossil fuels are for today's economy. But looking forward, oil is facing the most significant competition it has ever seen, thanks to electrification and clean energy.  That view of the long-term threat to fossil fuels drove Zach to co-found Carbon Collective – with a mission to build funds around industries that will deliver strong returns in a climate-constrained world. In t
08/03/202323 minutes 40 seconds
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More 2023 trends: EVs, onshoring, and the three ages of decarbonization

Come watch a live episode of The Carbon Copy! Canary Media and Post Script Media are hosting a live event at Greentown Labs in Somerville, Massachusetts on April 6 with some very special guests. Get your tickets today. We had so much to cover in Nat Bullard’s monster climate trends deck that we’re back for another episode. Haven’t heard the first part yet? Listen here.  Nat was the chief content officer at BloombergNEF until last year. He is now a senior contributor at BNEF and Bloomberg Green as well as a venture partner at Voyager Ventures.  Shayle and Nat dig into topics like: EVs. From 2017 to 2022, internal combustion engine car sales globally declined by nearly a third. Yet EV sales are on the rise. Will growth in EVs stave off the decline of passenger vehicle sales? Onshoring of supply chains. Companies have announced plans to bring manufacturing facilities to the U.S. or nearby countries. In the EV value chain alone, there were $70 billion worth of announcements in 2022. Will
02/03/202349 minutes 7 seconds
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2023 trends: biomass, ESG, batteries and more

It’s the first year of what we hope is an annual event: Nat Bullard has released his first climate trends report. He was the chief content officer at BloombergNEF until last year, and now is a senior contributor at BNEF and Bloomberg Green. He’s also a venture partner at Voyager Ventures.  There’s so much in this 141-slide deck that we’ve split the conversation into two episodes. In this first part, Shayle and Nat dig into topics like: Land use. For example: we grow 40% of the U.S. corn to offset 10% of U.S. motor gas demand. Also, despite a growing world population, land used for agriculture globally has been shrinking. What do these trends mean for alternative proteins and sustainable aviation fuels? ESG. In 2022, there were more anti-ESG than pro-ESG regulatory developments. And while ESG fund flows were positive last year, they’re still only a fraction of their peak in 2021. Where is ESG investment heading and should we even be putting environmental, social and governance crite
23/02/202342 minutes 30 seconds
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Strong opinions on SMRs

Recent announcements in the world of nuclear power might make you think that new nuclear technologies are close to deployment in North America. But look closely and you’ll find that progress is actually painfully slow, weighed down by regulatory challenges. Today’s guest argues that all those rules and regulations need to be overhauled.In this episode, Shayle talks to Bret Kugelmass, CEO and founder of nuclear reactor developer Last Energy. He’s also the host of the podcast Titans of Nuclear. They cover topics like: Small modular vs micro vs traditional reactors The state of SMR and nuclear development in North America Why utilities are disincentivized to build nuclear Places that are currently seeing a lot of construction, like China and Poland Building with existing components vs developing new designs The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s certification and licensing process Overhauling the bureaucracy and the institutional design of the Commission itself Click here fo
16/02/202347 minutes 8 seconds
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What hydrogen leakage means for the climate

Recent research has raised questions about the global-warming impact of uncombusted hydrogen. When it leaks from storage, pipes and other infrastructure into the atmosphere, new studies suggest hydrogen absorbs more heat than previously understood. And, perhaps more importantly, it extends the atmospheric life of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Proponents argue that hydrogen is a critical climate solution. “Green” hydrogen, for example, is made with zero-carbon electricity, effectively turning things like solar and wind energy into a storable fuel that can replace natural gas in many end uses. But could hydrogen’s warming impacts outweigh its advantages? That depends on your assumptions about how and where we use it. In this episode, Shayle talks to Thomas Koch Blank, senior principal at RMI, where he leads the organization’s Breakthrough Technology Program. Shayle and Thomas examine the new research and discuss topics like:  Where we will use hydrogen and varying risks of leakage
09/02/202344 minutes 20 seconds
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Mailbag episode! Biotech, layoffs, battery recycling and more

It’s that time of year when we reach into our listener mailbag and answer your questions. And you had some good ones. In this episode, Shayle once again hands the mic to guest host Sarah Golden, VP of energy at GreenBiz Sarah Golden. Together they cover things like: The role of biology in creating fossil-fuel-free materials Whether the marginal cost of electricity is heading toward zero Solving the dilemma of financing first-of-a-kind projects The impact of tech layoffs on climatetech The biggest roadblocks to decarbonization What role battery recycling will play in addressing the shortage of lithium and other critical minerals Click here for a full transcript of this episode. What else should we cover on the show? Leave us a voicemail at 919-808-5832. Or email us at [email protected]. You can also tag us on Twitter. Catalyst is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media. Catalyst is supported by Antenna Group. For 25 years, Antenna has partnered with l
02/02/202348 minutes 17 seconds
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The journey to monetizing DERs

Here’s the dream: millions of controllable devices—from EV chargers to thermostats, fridges, and batteries—working together to inject power back into the grid. They reduce load when there’s not enough electricity supply to meet demand. They ease transmission congestion and maintain grid frequency. And these devices, collectively called distributed energy resources or DERs, are all controlled remotely by grid operators.  So how far are we from this dream?  In this episode, Shayle talks to Mathew Sachs, senior vice president for strategic planning and business development at CPower, a company that aggregates DERs and sells DER services to the grid. They talk about where we are on the long and winding path to large-scale deployment of DERs and what it takes to monetize them. They dig in on:  EV chargers, the fastest growing category of DERs, as well as V1G and V2G How much easier it is to share your financial data with a credit check than to share your energy data with a DER aggregator
26/01/202346 minutes 54 seconds
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This episode is trash

In the U.S. alone, food waste is responsible for the equivalent emissions from 42 coal power plants. Globally it accounts for 10% of greenhouse gases, more than heavy industries like cement and steel.  Why? Wasted food means wasted energy. Throwing a piece of food in the trash is like tossing out the fertilizer and fuel used to make it, too. And we waste a lot of it. Nearly one third of all food grown gets trashed. On top of that, when food decomposes in landfills through anaerobic digestion, it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas.  So how do we clean up food waste?  In this episode, Shayle talks to Matt Rogers, founder and CEO of Mill. Matt founded Nest, the smart thermostat company, and has now turned his attention to food.  Disclosure: Shayle’s venture capital firm Energy Impact Partners is an investor in Mill.  Matt and Shayle cover topics like: Where food waste occurs along the value chain (hint: The biggest source of waste is us, when we toss food we’ve already purchased.)
19/01/202335 minutes 3 seconds
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Introducing: With Great Power, a show about the people building the future grid

In this bonus episode, we present With Great Power, a podcast from GridX about the people building the future grid, today. The grid is no longer the biggest source of carbon emissions in America. It's transportation. Electric vehicles are a key part of decarbonizing the transportation sector – making utilities an important force in growing EV adoption. Electric cars will create a new opportunity for power providers to scale their business. But first, they need to get people to buy them. And that's where people like Karl Popham come in. “The mindset is how can we get EVs to your customers as quickly as possible and as profitable for the salesperson as possible,” explains Karl, who is manager of electric vehicles and emerging technologies at Austin Energy. This week, Brad speaks with Karl about Austin Energy’s work in making electric cars as accessible as possible by taking a dealership-centric approach. You can find many more episodes like this over at the With Great Power feed. Subscri
18/01/202321 minutes 45 seconds
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Natural gas whiplash

The natural gas market has been through a wild ride, especially in Europe. The pandemic first pushed the prices way down. Then a resurgent economy and an unusually long European winter sent them back up to record heights. And by September of last year, Russia had dramatically cut natural gas flows to Europe, further squeezing supply. The high prices were especially painful for the continent, which relies heavily on the fuel for home heating, industry and power plants. But high prices also catalyzed efforts to shift to lower carbon technologies like renewables, hydrogen and heat pumps. Then fast forward to this past December, and now gas prices have plummeted again. What’s going on? What’s causing these rapid swings and what might happen next? In this episode, Shayle talks to Anne-Sophie Corbeau, research scholar at Columbia University’s SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy where she studies natural gas and hydrogen. Her article, “Putin’s energy gambit fizzles as warm winter saves Europe
12/01/202344 minutes 3 seconds
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Ammonia: the beer of decarbonization

The Haber-Bosch process, which turns nitrogen and hydrogen into ammonia, produces an essential ingredient in fertilizers and explosives. But it’s responsible for 2% of global emissions.  Ammonia could become an important low-carbon fuel, because when combusted it emits no carbon. We could use it in ships, heavy industry and even mixed in with coal or gas in power plants.  So what’s keeping us from using it as a new low-carbon fuel? And why would you use it instead of hydrogen, which you already need to make ammonia? In this episode, Shayle talks to Julio Friedmann, chief scientist at Carbon Direct. Julio and a team of colleagues just co-authored a report on low-carbon ammonia for the Innovation for Cool Earth Forum. They cover topics like: Why some countries like Japan, Singapore and Korea are especially interested in developing ammonia infrastructure. How ammonia compares to other low-carbon fuels like methanol and hydrogen. How we would need to retrofit coal and gas power plants
05/01/202353 minutes 55 seconds
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Why methane matters

Today we’re talking about two climate blind spots: methane and short-term warming. Most of us think of global warming as a long game. How do we reach net zero by 2050? And how should we curb carbon dioxide emissions to get there? But the warming happening now and in the next few years is just as important. Short-term warming exacerbates wildfires, hurricanes and other climate impacts now. And the short-term trajectory of warming can make things better or worse in the long run. At some point before we reach net zero emissions, it’s increasingly likely that we will overshoot our 1.5 degree target. Hopefully we will come back down, but the more we overshoot, the worse the effects of climate change will be. Which is why we should bend the curve of that trajectory by tackling the causes of short-term warming. High up on that list is methane. It lives in the atmosphere for only 12 years, but in the 20 years after it reaches the atmosphere it causes about 84 times more warming than carbon dio
22/12/202246 minutes 55 seconds
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Advance market commitments to decarbonize heavy industry

A coalition of companies organized by the U.S. government is promising to purchase low-carbon versions of commodities from “hard to abate” heavy industries. This sort of policy is called an advanced market commitment, which the U.S. has used in the past to accelerate the development of new technologies. With guaranteed revenue from the government, manufacturers are able to take risks to create products that they might not have otherwise. In the leadup to COP26 last year, John Kerry, U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, announced the First Movers Coalition (FMC) in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. It now involves 65 companies—including Delta, Maersk, and Rio Tinto—that will buy or supply a percentage of low-carbon products by 2030. India, Norway and eight other countries have signed on, too. The coalition has also committed to purchase carbon removal, adding to the wave of similar pledges like the $1 billion Frontier Fund. So how will the FMC work? In this episode, S
15/12/202253 minutes 12 seconds
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The trends shaping the energy transition [partner content]

We are headed into an uncertain future for the climate – but the range of possible scenarios is getting clearer. We’ve likely avoided the worst-case scenarios, thanks to the progress made in clean energy. And that has experts feeling conflicted. “People who are deep in the industry of trying to address climate change flip flop from skepticism to the amazing opportunity we have,” says DNV Senior Vice President Nick Brod. “Every few weeks, we see new technologies that show us that there is endless potential to make things more and more efficient.” “We definitely have a lot of the technologies in wind and solar and storage – and there continues to be breakthroughs,” says DNV Senior Vice President Marion Hill. We have most of the tools available to slow climate change. So where are the opportunities? And what are the bottlenecks to growth? In this special episode, produced in partnership with DNV, we feature a conversation between Stephen Lacey, Nick Brod, and Marion Hill about the trends
13/12/202217 minutes 13 seconds
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Solving the conundrum of industrial heat

To make products like cement, cereal and even baby food, you need heat—and lots of it. Industrial heat consumes about one-fifth of all energy used in 2018, according to the International Energy Agency.  Factories often burn coal or natural gas to generate consistent temperatures up to 2200 degrees Celsius. And most run nearly 24/7 to maintain profitability in competitive commodity markets.   Other sectors like power and ground transportation have clear pathways to decarbonization, relying mainly on electrification and cheap intermittent renewables. But these solutions don’t deliver consistent temperatures and the 24/7 energy needed to make things like steel and petrochemicals. So industrial heat has been a far more stubborn problem to solve. But there’s a crowded field of technologies lining up to try, including hydrogen, biogas, heat pumps, electric arc furnaces, and even heat batteries. In this episode, Shayle talks to John O’Donnell, co-founder and CEO of Rondo Energy, a thermal sto
08/12/202247 minutes 21 seconds
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Unpopular solar opinions, 2022 edition

We want your feedback! Fill out our listener survey for a chance to win a $100 Patagonia gift card. In a funny twist of fate, solar’s success has made it old news. It’s the fastest-growing source of electricity in the world and one of the cheapest. But it’s far from the hot topic it was a decade ago when utility-scale photovoltaics were still an emerging technology. Now that it’s a more mature tool in the climate fight, we take it for granted. And yet there’s so much more we need to do. To reach net zero by 2050, we likely need to quadruple global solar capacity by 2030, according to projections by BloombergNEF (BNEF). But labor shortages, high material costs and interconnection bottlenecks stand in the way.  So how do we get there? In this episode Shayle talks to Jenny Chase, who managed BloombergNEF’s solar insights team for 17 years before leaving the role this month. Every year she tweets a thread of 50 not-always-popular opinions on solar, covering the state of the industry and th
01/12/202246 minutes 31 seconds
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Fixing cement’s carbon problem

We want your feedback! Fill out our listener survey for a chance to win a $100 Patagonia gift card. Join us on November 30 for a live, virtual episode of Climavores. Come ask a question about food, nutrition, and eating for the climate. Concrete is an incredible material. It’s essentially pourable rock, and we use it in almost every part of the built world. We also consume more of it than any other man-made material in the world—about three tons per person annually. And the secret ingredient in all this concrete? Cement. Think of it as the glue that binds the crushed rocks in concrete together.  But here’s the problem. Making cement emits lots of carbon. The cement industry alone produces 8% of global emissions.  Why? First, the process happens at 1500 degrees Celsius, a temperature so hot that companies often burn coal to reach it. Second, the chemical reaction involved in creating cement releases carbon dioxide.   So what are the solutions?  In this episode, Shayle talks to Leah Elli
17/11/202245 minutes 9 seconds
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Unleashing the magic of heat pumps

What’s not to love about heat pumps? Well… a few things, actually.  Don’t take this the wrong way: Heat pumps are magic. They heat. They cool. They’re way more efficient than gas boilers. Switching to one can save a household hundreds of dollars in energy bills and lots of carbon emissions. It's why governments are incentivizing and requiring them. But heat pump adoption has slowed nationally. It’s even declined in colder regions. What‘s holding it back? In this episode, Shayle talks to his colleague Andy Lubershane, managing director for research and innovation at Energy Impact Partners, a climatetech venture capital firm.  Andy and Shayle talk about the state of heat pump technology and what we need to fix to speed up adoption. They cover topics like: The relatively high upfront costs and messy customer journey to installation What mass adoption would do to peak demand on the grid in cold climates  How heat pumps dramatically ramp up electrical load in a typical home and on the gr
10/11/202242 minutes 22 seconds
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Getting more energy on the wires

Want to build a power plant in the U.S.? Here are three things to know.  First, connecting a wind farm, utility-scale battery, or other big source of power to the grid means getting in line. A typical project’s wait time has increased from around two years in 2005 to four years in 2020, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  Second, the interconnection queue is a crowded place. In 2020 there were 1.44 terawatts of projects in the queue. That’s more than the U.S.’s current fleet of generation. Third, dropouts are the norm. Only 25% of projects make it to completion. Projects withdraw from the queue for lots of reasons, but wait times are a big factor. During long waits, negotiations can fall apart and rights can expire, reports Emma Penrod of Utility Dive. Why the bottleneck and long queues? Lack of transmission is the single biggest factor. We need way more of it to bring power from rural areas with rich wind and solar potential to power-hungry population centers.
03/11/202259 minutes 40 seconds
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Climatetech for developing economies

Utilities in developing countries are juggling a complex set of problems: How to extend electricity to those who don’t have it; how to deploy large-scale power generation to power economic growth; and how to pursue these goals while decarbonizing.  In this episode, guest host Lara Pierpoint talks to Kate Steel, CEO of Nithio, a finance company focused on off-grid clean energy in Africa. Kate and Lara discuss the options for separating economic growth from fossil fuels. And she argues that we have the technology to develop low-carbon electrified economies in developing economies; we just need to deploy it. Lara and Kate weigh in on:  The tension between expanding access to low-cost power and attracting investment in large-scale baseload generation Why off-grid solar is often more economically viable than diesel generators for rural electrification How canceled power purchase agreements have stymied the development of renewables and how to solve these financing challenges  “Reverse”
27/10/202249 minutes 20 seconds
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How the US climate bill will finance the energy transition [partner content]

In this episode, produced in partnership with CohnReznick, we explore the market implications of the Inflation Reduction Act. The Inflation Reduction Act is an incredibly important win for climate. It puts the U.S. back on the global stage as a serious climate negotiator. It puts the country within reach of a net-zero grid. And it will put hundreds of billions of dollars toward renewables, storage, carbon-capture, and hydrogen. In reality, it’s a very practical – and very complicated – tax bill. We support clean energy in America through the tax code, and this legislation builds on that framework in a big way. This episode was produced in partnership with CohnReznick and CohnReznick Capital.  CohnReznick’s Renewable Energy Industry Practice can help your business move forward by proactively addressing even your most complicated challenges and needs.  And CohnReznick Capital’s industry-leading investment banking team can help your company break through the dynamic and evolving sustainab
24/10/202216 minutes 15 seconds
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What’s holding up hydrogen in Europe?

Europe’s hydrogen economy is so close to becoming a reality. Billions in public and private dollars are lining up to invest in a wave of newly planned hydrogen facilities. EU policymakers are finalizing new regulations and subsidies. And the region’s energy crisis–sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine–has accelerated the need for alternative energy sources like hydrogen. But an unexpected twist: The U.S. passed the Inflation Reduction Act, with subsidies for hydrogen production and far looser rules than those under consideration in Europe. Could Europe lose its hydrogen competitiveness? In this episode, Shayle talks to Gniewomir Flis, an independent hydrogen consultant. Previously he researched hydrogen at Agora Energiewende, a decarbonization think tank, and Energy Revolution Venture, a decarbonization venture capital firm. Gniewomir explains that some in Europe worry the U.S. might become a more attractive place to invest in hydrogen if the EU’s rules are too strict. This concer
20/10/202244 minutes 40 seconds
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What climatetech can learn from the oceans

So you want to build an offshore wind farm. Are you prepared to manage the marine ecosystem impacts of construction? What about monitoring and protecting underwater electrical cables? Or maybe you want to decarbonize shipping. Do you know how to trace low-carbon fuel through ports or maintain storage tanks in marine environments? How about managing worker safety on the ocean? These are the kinds of questions that crop up at the intersection of climatetech and something called bluetech, the range of technologies that touch the oceans. And this marine-based expertise may prove invaluable to climate solutions.  In this episode, Shayle talks to Alissa Peterson, co-founder and chief executive officer of SeaAhead, an organization that supports and incubates bluetech companies. They survey a range of technologies, covering topics like: Alternative low-carbon fuels for shipping, such as ammonia, methanol and hydrogen Alternative proteins, fisheries and kelp Oceanic carbon removal, such as o
13/10/202238 minutes 3 seconds
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How well does soil actually store carbon?

Don’t miss our live episode of Climavores in New York City on October 20! Sign up here for a night of live audio and networking with top voices in climate journalism.  There’s a buzz right now about paying farmers to trap and store emissions. Soil is a carbon sink, and certain farming practices accelerate carbon capture while others hurt it.  Enter soil carbon credits to incentivize sequestration through methods like cover cropping, no-till farming and agroforestry. These are practices often included under the umbrella of regenerative agriculture. So what does science say about how well these methods actually lock away carbon? In this episode, Shayle talks to Eric Slessarev, staff scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where he studies soil carbon.  Eric says there’s a lot we don’t know about how well these practices actually work. There are even more fundamental questions like how much carbon is in the soil. Turns out dirt is pretty complicated. They cover things like: H
06/10/202236 minutes 25 seconds
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Is the Inflation Reduction Act a win for EVs and batteries?

Don’t miss our live episode of Climavores in New York City on October 20! Sign up here for a night of live audio and networking with top voices in climate journalism.  Depending on which headlines you read, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will either hurt U.S. electric vehicle sales by replacing existing tax credits with complicated new ones or build out a North American battery supply chain and rev up EV sales. So which is it? In this episode, Shayle talks to Sam Jaffe, vice president of battery solutions at E-Source, about the key provisions of the IRA’s EV and battery tax credits. Sam explains how the IRA will spur a North American EV battery supply chain in the long run but will also create winners and losers along the way.  There’s a $30 billion pot of money for various tax credits and limited time to make use of them. Who will get to it first? There are already some early movers. Sam explains the key provisions: The EV components tax credit reduces the cost of EVs whose batter
29/09/202246 minutes 39 seconds
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Columbia Energy Exchange: Will Putin’s Energy Strategy Backfire?

Don’t miss our live episode of Climavores in New York City on October 20! Sign up here for a night of live audio and networking with top voices in climate journalism.  Winter is coming. The energy crisis that is afflicting Europe and other parts of the world is worsening as Russia weaponizes natural gas. This energy crisis has effects across climate tech, and so today we’re bringing you an episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, a podcast from Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. On Catalyst, we don’t usually dig so deep into geopolitics and policy, but this crisis has big implications for markets, investment and technology.  After Russian President Vladimir Putin turned off supply of Russian gas through the Nord Stream pipeline earlier this month, prices across Europe soared – causing severe pain for manufacturers and consumers, and pushing the region closer to recession. European countries are weighing emergency measures, like price caps and rationing. In addition to th
22/09/202256 minutes 19 seconds
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Averting water wars as we decarbonize

Don’t miss our live episode of Climavores in New York City on October 20! Sign up here for a night of live audio and networking with top voices in climate journalism.  We designed our power plants, refineries, and other energy infrastructure to depend on water. But not just any kind of water—water that’s available at the right quantity, quality, place and time. When water falls outside of this Goldilocks zone, energy systems can unravel, sometimes in unexpected ways. Low water levels strain hydroelectric and thermal power production and restrict coal shipments by river. Extreme cold freezes water in natural gas infrastructure, causing blackouts. Examples abound. The irony is that the energy system fuels climate change, which in turn fuels water problems for the energy system.  So how do we address these vulnerabilities as we decarbonize? And how can we build a resilient water-energy system in an increasingly chaotic climate? In this episode, Shayle talks to Dr. Michael Webber, author o
15/09/202241 minutes 13 seconds
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Could geothermal become a major zero-emissions player?

Drill down far enough anywhere in the world and you reach temperatures hot enough to generate firm, reliable zero-emission electricity. That’s the hope for new geothermal technologies that could scale the industry beyond well-known geothermal hot spots like Iceland. But first the industry needs to overcome major challenges in financing and technology. It has also to deal with the public opinion around the oil and gas industry, which may be an essential partner in scaling geothermal because of its overlapping expertise in drilling and underground exploration. In this episode, guest host Lara Pierpoint talks with Jamie Beard, executive director of Project Innerspace, a non-profit focused on expanding the use of geothermal energy globally.  Current geothermal technology relies on naturally occurring underground hot spots, common in places like Iceland and the western U.S.. But an approach called enhanced geothermal systems or “hot, dry rock,” would make geothermal available around the wor
09/09/20221 hour 2 minutes 9 seconds
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The dirt on soil carbon credits

Soil is a massive carbon sink that’s stored away emissions for centuries. But years of destructive farming practices have released much of this carbon. Could incentivizing farmers help restore—and expand—soil’s carbon-carrying capacity?  In theory, yes. But the market for soil carbon credits—literally paying farmers to improve their practices—needs serious reform.   In this episode, Shayle talks with Freya Chay, program manager for carbon removal at CarbonPlan. The fundamental problem is that the existing carbon credits don’t do what they say they will do: permanently lock away additional carbon. Freya and Shayle survey the big challenges of the market and explore potential fixes, covering questions like: How do we measure—using models, samplings and satellites—the amount of carbon in a plot of soil? What tools do we have to make sure the carbon will stay in the ground, such as buffer pools and ton-year accounting? The additionality question: Without the credit, would the carbon hav
25/08/202243 minutes
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Booking your first zero-emissions flight

In aviation, there’s a crowd of low-carbon technologies vying for a slice of the market. On one hand, the long-haul portion of the market will likely rely on sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) which still emit greenhouse gasses but could be offset to net-zero. On the other hand, there’s a big share of air traffic that could go completely zero-emissions with the help of batteries and hydrogen.  So how soon could you book a ticket on a zero-emissions flight? And what routes are possible? In this episode, Shayle talks with Jayant Mukhopadhaya, a researcher at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). Jayant recently authored two reports on electric aircraft and hydrogen aircraft. Shayle and Jayant dig in on some tough questions:  Can electric aircraft take incremental steps into the market given the limitations of current battery energy densities? Or do they need a technology breakthrough? How do hydrogen fuel cell, compressed hydrogen combustion, and liquid hydrogen comb
18/08/202241 minutes 3 seconds
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Will charging infrastructure be a bottleneck for electric vehicles?

Electric vehicles (EVs) are moving quickly toward mass adoption. So how do we make sure that charging infrastructure keeps up? The people who own, operate and install chargers have some big questions to answer:  Can public chargers run a profit, and how do business models need to change to accelerate deployment? Why is it so hard to repair broken stations? Does it matter where we install new ones? When will chargers be as ubiquitous and easy to use as gas stations? In this episode, Shayle digs into these questions with colleague Cassie Bowe, partner at the venture capital firm Energy Impact Partners, where she focuses on mobility. Cassie outlines the trajectory of charger deployment over the years, comparing charger accessibility in the U.S, China and Europe.  Shayle and Cassie cover smart charging (also known as V1G) and V2G, as well as the commodification of charging hardware. Plus, how soon we might see wireless charging and why Shayle doesn’t have an EV yet.  Catalyst is suppo
11/08/202246 minutes 54 seconds
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What the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 would mean for climatetech

The $369 billion climate and tax bill from Sen. Joe Manchin III and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer caught everyone by surprise. Democrats had abandoned their climate legislation last month after Manchin, a must-have vote for Democrats, signaled his opposition to it. But late last week Manchin and Schumer announced they had revived the deal under a new name – The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. If passed, it would be the most ambitious climate action in U.S. history. And now with support from another key swing vote, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the bill is an important step closer to passage. So what would the bill do? In this episode, Shayle talks to Princeton professor Jesse Jenkins. Jesse leads the REPEAT Project, which analyzed the effects of the bill in a report released today. Overall, the bill would make clean energy cheaper and build up the capacity of climatetech industries in the U.S. and its allies across multiple sectors of the economy, including power, transportation, heavy
05/08/202259 minutes 39 seconds
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Watt It Takes: TeraWatt Infrastructure CEO Neha Palmer

We're bringing you something different today. It's an episode of one of our favorite podcasts, called Watt It Takes hosted by Emily Kirsch of Powerhouse Ventures.  We talk a lot on Catalyst about how to finance and build climatetech. What we don’t always get into are the personal stories of people who are trying to do that work. That’s exactly what Watt It Takes does. The show tells the stories of founders who are building a zero-carbon world — their upbringings, their risks, their failures, and their breakthroughs. This episode is about Neha Palmer, CEO of TeraWatt Infrastructure, which builds large-scale electric vehicle charging hubs for medium and heavy transport. Tens of millions of delivery vans and semi trucks move around the clock to keep supply chains humming. These medium- and heavy-duty vehicles make up more than 25 percent of transportation emissions in the US — even though they only make up 10 percent of all vehicles on the road. We need to electrify medium and heavy-
28/07/202243 minutes 22 seconds
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Seeking the holy grail of batteries

If there were a holy grail of electric vehicle batteries, it would be low-weight, long-range, and fast-charging. It would last a million miles and cost less than anything produced today. So in the booming EV battery market, what kind of battery will check all those boxes? Who will invent it? And do we really need all those features in one battery in the first place? In this episode, Shayle talks to Sam Jaffe, vice president of battery solutions at E-Source. They trace the history of the two major competing lithium-ion chemistries: Lithium Iron (or ferrous) Phosphate (LFP) and Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC). Sam and Shayle also discuss the factors that shaped this competition, like China, Tesla, and access to capital. They discuss new partnerships between battery manufacturers and automakers, including LG and GM, Samsung SDI and Stellantis, ACC and Mercedes And they cover questions like: Who decides which chemistries to develop — automakers or battery part manufacturers?  Will a small
21/07/202253 minutes 40 seconds
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Crossing the valley of death

In climatetech, the ‘valley of death’ describes the lack of capital for newer solutions, especially those that mainstream investors view as unproven. The climate tech world is full of technologies that would be fantastic tools for fighting the climate crisis, if only they could cross this valley of death and scale. Scott Jacobs co-founded Generate Capital in 2014 to help address this problem. In this episode Shayle talks to Scott about how to successfully finance first-of-a-kind climatetech. They cover technologies like electric bus leasing, anaerobic digesters, microgrids and EV fleet charging infrastructure. And they dig in on: Winning over investors who don't have the time to understand complex technologies or business models The kinds of support, beyond capital, that first-of-a-kind technologies need from investors  Navigating the rising cost of capital and supply chain problems When exactly technologies have proven themselves in the eyes of investors Catalyst is supported by
14/07/202251 minutes 37 seconds
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The Carbon Copy: Get ready for the battery recycling boom

On the Carbon Copy podcast this week: It’s been over three months since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent shockwaves into global oil markets, causing supply constraints and skyrocketing prices. The conflict has complicated the flow of energy at a time when supply chains were already jumbled up because of Covid. But it’s not just oil. The war is leaving its mark on all kinds of commodities, including the global supplies of minerals and metals. Geopolitical shifts are causing big spikes in the prices of lithium and nickel, two key components of the lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars. However, this supply mess could actually be boosting a positive trend in the battery space: recycling.  Batteries are a pillar of the zero-carbon economy, but are they truly sustainable? And will technical advancements and evolving geopolitical alliances alter the battery-based economy for the better? Our guest is Julian Spector, a senior reporter with Canary Media. Check out his latest report on fi
07/07/202222 minutes 16 seconds
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How to Save a Planet: Spark Tank! How Do We Solve the Energy Storage Problem?

It’s shark week! Or ‘spark’ week? Today we’re bringing you an episode of How to Save a Planet, in which Shayle steps into the shoes of a Shark Tank-style judge. This episode is all about (drum-roll please): Storage! ...Exciting, right? Ok, we’ll prove it to you. Each day, more and more of our electricity comes from intermittent renewables like wind and solar. To balance out our electric grid in the future, we’ll need new ways of storing extra energy, so we can still turn on our lights when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. This week, with help from Dr. Leah Stokes and Shayle Kann, we explore the wild world of energy storage, from a hidden underground lair to a piping hot thermos full of poison. And did we mention it’s a gameshow? Guests Dr. Leah Stokes, Professor of Climate and Energy Policy at University of California, Santa Barbara Shayle Kann, Climate Tech Investor at Energy Impact Partners Len Greene, Director of Government Affairs and Communications, FirstLigh
01/07/202247 minutes 36 seconds
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Which tech is overhyped, underhyped and just right?

Within the climate tech world, technology hype is all over the map. In this episode, Lara Pierpoint, director of climate at Actuate, and Stephen Lacey, host of The Carbon Copy and executive producer of Catalyst, join Shayle for a game of “buy sell hold.” They take bets on which technologies are either overhyped, underhyped or just right. They cover a range of topics, including: Advanced nuclear, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s rejection of Oklo’s reactor designs and shifting opinions around nuclear Whether the concern around hydrogen leakage and its greenhouse effect is overblown Heat pumps, including the Biden administration’s efforts to boost production with the National Defense Production Act and a new report on how a proposed federal program to incentivize heat pumps could save Americans over $27 billion Non-lithium-ion batteries for stationary storage, which may see an opening in the market as lithium-ion batteries become expensive due to rising commodity price
23/06/202251 minutes 35 seconds
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Making sense of solar engineering

In some climate circles, solar geoengineering is akin to a swear word. Also known as solar radiation modification (SRM), it means deliberately modifying the earth’s atmosphere to reflect solar radiation. It provokes forceful pushback, because it’s unclear how it would affect the earth’s agriculture, ozone layer and ecosystems. But it’s been attracting interest because it’s clear it would do one thing well: cool the planet. If we’re not moving fast enough on emissions reductions and carbon removal to avoid 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, could solar geoengineering, despite its risks, be less dangerous than a hotter world? In this episode, Shayle talks to Dan Visioni, a climate modeler who studies solar geoengineering at Cornell University’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. They discuss what solar geoengineering might look like in the real world.  Stratospheric sulfate injections would mimic the effects of volcanic eruptions like Mount Pinatubo in 1991, which cooled
16/06/202244 minutes 48 seconds
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Introducing Climavores: a new show about food and climate

We're presenting a trailer for a new show from Post Script Media, called Climavores. Climavores is a show for eaters who don’t want to cook the planet. Each week, journalists Tamar Haspel and Mike Grunwald explore the complicated, confusing, and surprising relationship between food and the environment.  Episodes drop on June 21. Subscribe on Apple, Spotify, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.
13/06/20224 minutes 48 seconds
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From biowaste to “biogold”

Biomass. It's the organic matter in forests, agriculture and trash. You can turn it into electricity, fuel, plastic and more. And you can engineer it to capture extra carbon dioxide and sequester it underground or at the bottom of the ocean.  The catch: The world has a finite capacity for biomass production, so every end use competes with another. If done improperly, these end uses could also compete with food production for arable land already in tight supply. So which decarbonization solutions will get a slice of the biomass pie? Which ones should? In this episode, Shayle talks to Julio Friedmann, chief scientist at Carbon Direct. They cover the sources of biomass, everything from municipal solid waste to kelp. They also survey the potential end-uses, such as incineration to generate power, gasification to make hydrogen, and pyrolyzation to make biochar, as well as fuel production in a Fischer-Tropsch process.  In a report from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Julio and his co
09/06/202241 minutes 6 seconds
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Climate tech’s surprising bottleneck – land access

There’s a bottleneck in climate tech that we don’t talk about enough: land availability. It’s a physical resource you need to support biomass, renewables, mineral mining, and other essential tools of decarbonization. So how much is enough, and where do we need it? In this episode, Shayle talks to his colleague Andy Lubershane, managing director of research at Energy Impact Partners. Andy argues that land—geography, landscape and the rights to land—will be a common constraint among climatetech solutions as we reach gigaton-scale reductions of emissions. Andy and Shayle survey the industries where the availability of land could play a critical role, exploring questions like: How much land will we need for solar and wind power in deep decarbonization scenarios like the Net Zero America Study, and where? How does that amount of land change depending on siting, permitting and regulatory challenges of building transmission? What about the “pores” of underground space needed for carbon sequ
02/06/202240 minutes 34 seconds
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Tapping the goldmine of consumer energy data

Consumer energy data is vital to the energy transition, especially distributed energy resources (DERs). For example, a rooftop solar company needs consumer energy data to analyze bill savings from a potential solar installation. An electric vehicle (EV) charging company needs it to offer a customer special rates on EV charging. But that data has long been incredibly difficult to access – available only in PDFs and hard-to-access utility databases – often coming in very different formats and standards. And yet companies are trying to overcome these challenges by bringing that data into easy-to-use interfaces. Arcadia is one such company. Earlier this month it raised $200 million, an investment that valued the company at $1.5 billion. Yesterday, Arcadia purchased commercial energy-data provider Urjanet.  In this episode, Shayle talks to Arcadia CEO Kiran Bhatraju about how to build a business around consumer energy data and how that data could become a goldmine for DER providers.  A few
26/05/202250 minutes 34 seconds
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How will the downturn affect climate tech?

Stock markets are in decline. Inflation is on the rise. Interest rates are up. Private tech companies are laying off workers.  Is this the long-awaited market correction that never quite materialized during the bull market of the last 13 years? And what does it mean for climate tech?  In this episode, Shayle talks to Saloni Multani, a partner at Galvanize Climate Solutions and former chief financial officer for Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign.  Shayle and Saloni place the current moment in historical context. They cover the recent wave of low-cost capital that poured into climate tech and the low interest rates that gave renewables an advantage over fossil-fuel investments.  And they dive into some pressing questions like: Are the broader market impacts on climate tech delayed? Or is climate tech somehow more insulated than general tech companies? The green premium question: Will a downturn in the market jeopardize investments in more expensive but lower-carbon alternatives to fossil fuels
19/05/202245 minutes 13 seconds
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Shayle’s “ask me anything” episode

We’re reversing roles today by taking listener questions for our host, Shayle Kann. He’s usually the one interviewing our guests, but he also has expertise (and maybe a few hot takes) to share. He leads a $350 million fund that invests in early-stage climate startups, so he spends most of his time trying to figure out which technologies and businesses will help us decarbonize as quickly as possible. GreenBiz senior energy analyst Sarah Golden joins the show to ask Shayle your questions and dissect the answers with him.  They cover: The causes of rising solar costs and other troubles in the solar industry  The biggest bottlenecks in climate tech The the startups that are trying to reduce the carbon intensity of fertilizing crops amid a global fertilizer crisis The overhyped hate for crypto mining  The race between synthetic fuels (aka synfuels) and biofuels What happens to the pace of deployment for Direct Air Capture if power grids are slower to decarbonize than expected? Plus:
12/05/202252 minutes 57 seconds
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Growing the Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) market

Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) is having a moment. The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that the world cannot meet the targets of the Paris Agreement without removing hundreds of gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere. Big companies like Alphabet, Stripe and others have formed the Frontier Fund, a nearly $1 billion joint-effort to jump-start the market to purchase CDR offsets. Elon Musk is even sponsoring a $100 million X-Prize focused on it. We’re not talking about point-source carbon capture and storage, often called CCS. And we’re not just talking about Direct Air Capture or planting trees, the most well-known forms of CDR. Carbon Dioxide Removal also includes technologies involving kelp, bamboo, cement, mangroves, biochar, and others.  In this episode, Shayle explores CDR with Ryan Orbuch, a partner at Lowercarbon Capital who leads the firm’s carbon-removal work. Ryan helped to start Stripe’s carbon removal procurement program and has been i
05/05/202252 minutes 58 seconds
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Hydrogen, meet salt cavern

A massive green hydrogen project in Utah has won a $504.4 million conditional loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office. The project, called Advanced Clean Energy Storage (ACES), will generate hydrogen from renewables and store it deep underground in what’s called a salt dome. ACES will use that stored hydrogen to generate electricity in a hybrid power plant, running on both natural gas and hydrogen. ACES is one of the many planned hydrogen hubs in the U.S., and once completed it would be one of the largest in the country. The loan will finance an initial 220 megawatts of hydrogen production and 300 gigawatt hours of storage. What did it take to put this deal together, and what does it say about the future of hydrogen hubs more broadly? In this episode, Shayle talks to Jigar Shah, director of the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) about the project. The LPO is the government agency behind the conditional loan guarantee. Shayle and Jigar tal
28/04/202246 minutes 7 seconds
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The great rush for battery metals

The metals used to make batteries are in hot demand. In 2021, the price of one form of lithium skyrocketed by over 400%. Automakers are racing to lock up supply deals for key minerals as they roll out new electric-vehicle models. And the market value of companies with mining assets, or new technologies to unlock them, has skyrocketed. What’s behind this scramble for metals and what does it mean for the energy transition?  In this episode, Shayle talks to Kurt House, chief executive officer and co-founder of KoBold Metals. Kobold uses artificial intelligence to discover and characterize new sources of key battery metals.  Kurt and Shayle survey five key materials of the energy transition — lithium, nickel, copper, cobalt and rare earth metals. They compare the roles of each one in different types of batteries and discuss how the changing battery cell chemistries are shaping metal markets. Kurt explains the different factors shaping supply, including recycling, new mineral discoveries an
21/04/20221 hour 57 seconds
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Alternative protein: it’s what’s for dinner

Support strong climate journalism! Donate to Canary Media to celebrate its one-year anniversary. Conventional livestock agriculture, especially beef production, is a huge climate problem. It makes up 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.  But there’s good news: alternative proteins are hot. Brands like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat rely on alternative proteins to replicate the taste and texture of conventional meat and dairy – but with drastically less carbon pollution. Alternative proteins are starting to show up in fast food, fine dining and grocery stores. They’re garnering big-time investment, and they have the potential to shake up the conventional livestock industry.  But the term alternative proteins includes a smorgasbord of technologies. What are they and how do they work? And where do we need research and development? In this episode, Shayle talks to Dr. Liz Specht, vice president of science and technology at the Good Food Institute. Liz explains the three main pillars
14/04/202251 minutes 12 seconds
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Carbon capture and storage is making a comeback

Support strong climate journalism! Donate to Canary Media to celebrate its one-year anniversary. After a string of relatively high profile failures and cost overruns, point source carbon capture and storage (CCS) – that is, capturing carbon dioxide directly from flue stacks at industrial and power generation facilities – fell into disrepute. Many projects were shelved. And yet, in just the first nine months of 2021 the global capacity of planned CCS projects grew 50% to 111 million tons, which would triple the current operating capacity in the world. So why the recovery? And what might happen this time? In this episode Shayle talks to Chris Bataille, a researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, a professor at Simon Fraser University and a lead author on the industry chapter of the IPCC report that just came out this week.  Chris and Shayle talk about the state of CCS technology, the reasons for past failures, and the applications where it could
07/04/202237 minutes 35 seconds
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Can Europe quit Russian fossil fuel by next winter?

Europe imports about 45% of its natural gas from Russia. As the conflict in Ukraine escalates, pressure is mounting for Europe to wean itself off Russian energy as quickly as possible. European sanctions against Russia have excluded the energy trade, meaning that European purchases of oil and gas – which fund about 40% of Russia’s federal budget – are in effect funding the Russian war effort in Ukraine. So how could Europe eliminate the import of Russian fossil fuels? In this episode Shayle talks to Princeton energy professor Jesse Jenkins about how to do it. The EU’s current plan is to cut its import of Russian gas by two thirds by the end of the year. Jesse’s energy modeling team is working on a plan to cut 100% of Russian energy imports by October 1. Shayle and Jesse explore the immediate impact of the war in Ukraine on energy markets and the ripple effects on other markets like fertilizer, food and carbon markets.  Then they discuss the tools Europe and its allies have at their dis
31/03/202250 minutes 5 seconds
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Will this carbon market boom be different?

Carbon markets of all types – avoidance, removal, voluntary, compliance – are hot. Startups are sprouting up, looking to develop, broker and verify new kinds of credits. More than a decade ago there was a similar flurry of excitement around offsets, followed by a big crash in carbon markets. Experts blamed the Great Recession, but also a lack of trust and transparency in the offsets themselves. Will this time be different?  In this episode, Shayle talks about what’s changed with Nat Bullard, chief content officer at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. They review the persistent oversupply and trust issues in voluntary markets, and then examine the tech stack that could address them, such as web3, blockchain and regenerative finance, or ReFi. They also take a look at the new focus on removal, which is easier to verify and track than avoidance.  Also in the episode: What could carbon market prices look like in 2050? Will large financial institutions or new regulations spur companies to adopt t
24/03/202254 minutes 26 seconds
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When will batteries take over the world?

In the 90s batteries powered your camcorder and boombox. Then your phone. Now they’re running your electric vehicle (EV), and in some cases, even your house.  At what scale will batteries meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions? We may be nearing an inflection point with electric vehicle batteries, but we’re nowhere near as close with grid storage technologies. What’s it going to take to get there?   Guest host Lara Pierpoint explores this question with battery expert – David Schroeder, chief technology officer of Volta Energy Technologies, a venture capital firm focused on storage. They talk about David’s two least favorite phrases in the battery world: “range anxiety” and “long duration.” They also survey different applications for storage and whether there’s a holy grail technology that can satisfy that variety of demands. .  Then, they zoom in on lithium-ion technology, the workhorse of EVs and storage. They cover safety, recalls, supply chains, and why lithium ion is so expen
17/03/202259 minutes 22 seconds
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What the grid can learn from the internet

For nearly two decades, the terms "smart grid" and "grid edge" have been used to define the digital layer of the electricity system that can help integrate more rooftop solar panels, EVs, smart meters, and home batteries to avoid outages and save customers money. But even with massive increases in computing power, utilities are still lagging in technology to communicate with DERs (also known as grid-edge assets) and the computing power to crunch all that data. In this episode, what can the grid learn from the internet? Guest host Lara Pierpoints talks to a person deep in both worlds. Astrid Atkinson is a former senior Google engineer who specialized in distributed networks. She’s now founder and CEO at the grid software company Camus. Lara and Astrid examine where the grid still needs a digital upgrade. They also discuss concerns about giving utilities access to the technology to communicate with DERs and control over consumers’ devices. Plus, Astrid and Lara also cover FERC Order 2222
11/03/20221 hour 1 minute 47 seconds
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Unlocking hyper-efficient cooling

It may not get the same attention as higher-profile sectors, but cooling accounts for 4% of global greenhouse gasses emissions. That's more than even aviation or shipping. Demand for cooling is expected to triple by 2050. In places where global warming is triggering intense heat waves, cooling has become a matter of life and death.  And yet, cleaner, more-efficient air conditioning technology exists. Why aren’t we using it? And how do we make it affordable and widely available? In this episode, guest host Lara Pierpoint talks with Jessy Rivest, vice president and general manager of the Cleantech program at Xerox PARC, where she develops and commercializes new cooling technologies. Lara and Jessy examine the two key technologies inside an air conditioner. The first is the cooling itself, a sophisticated process involving refrigerants. The second is humidity control, an energy-intensive process that Jessy thinks is ripe for an upgrade. Jessy also talks about the challenges of higher upfr
03/03/202250 minutes 46 seconds
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Will advanced reactors solve nuclear's problems?

Traditional nuclear power is bogged down by cost overruns and concerns about safety and waste. But does it have to be that way? Could we deploy scaleable reactors that are cheaper, safer, and that produce less waste? Advanced nuclear startups in the U.S. certainly think so.  In this episode, guest host Lara Pierpoint speaks with Jake DeWitte, co-founder and CEO of Oklo, one of many advanced nuclear companies that have emerged in recent years. Lara and Jake survey the polarized landscape of nuclear development, with many countries shutting down plants and others planning to open new ones. They discuss the main problems with traditional nuclear, and examine some new ways companies are attempting to solve them.  They focus on the technologies that Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and microreactors could use, including liquid metal, liquid salt, and gas-cooled options, as well as fast reactors. They also talk about nuclear waste recycling, safer self-cooling designs, and nuclear direct heatin
25/02/20221 hour 8 minutes 43 seconds
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A critical tool for scaling climate tech: insurance

We buy insurance for everything – our cars, our houses, our health. But climate tech insurance? That’s a new one.   When Jeff McAulay was working in solar, he discovered one major roadblock to scaling up climate tech. Solar developers didn’t have the right kind of insurance to cover their risks. So Jeff co-founded Energetic Insurance.   Turns out, insurance solves problems beyond solar. Jeff says there are unaddressed risks associated with many new climate technologies that can prevent developers from accessing affordable capital. In essence, Jeff sees insurance as part of the larger capital stack, alongside better-understood tools like venture capital and debt. In this episode, guest co-host Lara Pierpoint speaks with Jeff about applications in heat pumps, fuel cells, geothermal, advanced nuclear and more. They also discuss the limits of private insurance, and the role governments can play in addressing uncertainty, technological complexity and regulatory hurdles.  They also cover mor
17/02/202248 minutes 52 seconds
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The Carbon Copy: The lithium land grab in California

This week, we're featuring an episode of The Carbon Copy. Batteries are everywhere. In our electronics, our power tools, our electric grid, and in our cars. And almost all those batteries use a lithium-ion chemistry. The Imperial Valley in southern California is home to the Salton Sea, a land-locked body of water that contains vast reserves of lithium. California Governor Gavin Newsom called the region the "Saudi Arabia of Lithium." If mined, it could completely reshape the global supply chain. This week on The Carbon Copy: California has ambitious plans to fuel the global EV boom with the Salton Sea’s lithium. But will the people who need it most get left behind? Catalyst is supported by Antenna Group. For 25 years, Antenna has partnered with leading clean-economy innovators to build their brands and accelerate business growth. If you're a startup, investor, enterprise, or innovation ecosystem that's creating positive change, Antenna is ready to power your impact. Visit antennagroup.c
10/02/202221 minutes 53 seconds
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The future of the home solar market

There’s momentum building for electrification. But when will electrification take off as a mainstream movement? And what companies can provide electrification solutions to consumers at scale? One strong candidate is Sunrun. It’s the leading residential solar company in the U.S., after SolarCity years ago, and acquiring its next-biggest competitor Vivint solar more recently. Sunrun has also become a major player in residential batteries. And it started to push its way into the residential EV charging game via a partnership with Ford around the electric F-150. Mary Powell recently became CEO of Sunrun, after taking over from co-founder and previous CEO Lynn Jurich last year. Shayle talked to Mary about what Sunrun is today – and what it might be in the future. They talk about what it will take to lower consumer acquisition costs, overcome the inertia of policy and utilities, and compare the emotional and economic drivers behind residential solar installations.  Plus: the opportunities fo
31/01/202247 minutes 14 seconds
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The many pathways to decarbonizing chemicals

Chemicals might be the most daunting industrial sector to decarbonize. Unlike concrete and steel, where the end products are largely uniform, refineries spit out thousands of different chemicals through a dizzyingly complex set of processes. These end products are, in turn, used in everything from plastics to fertilizers to pharmaceuticals to clothing.  The International Energy Agency predicts that chemicals will be the largest source of demand growth for oil through 2050.  A wide range of approaches could transform the sector. To talk through them, Shayle turned to industrial emissions guru Rebecca Dell, the Program Director for Industry at Climateworks Foundation.  She breaks down this mysterious sector. Where chemicals are we talking about? Where are they made? And where do the associated emissions come from?  Shayle and Rebecca also talk about the feedstock problem: Decarbonizing heat and electricity in the industry is a hard but straightforward challenge. But how do we replace the
24/01/20221 hour 7 minutes 26 seconds
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Microbes, meat and materials: biotech meets climatetech

Biotech has enormous potential across a wide array of climate solutions. It can be used to create alternative proteins, remove carbon from the atmosphere, clean up fertilizer, or to create renewable fuels. But it also comes with some scaling challenges.  This week, Shayle talks about the intersection of biotech and climatetech with Arye Lipman. Arye is a biologist and a general partner at MarsBio, a bio-focused early-stage fund. He also writes a Substack newsletter on biotech called The Last Great Mystery. Arye and Shayle talk about the dream of synthetic biology: to use biology like a software platform and program cells to make whatever you want. Arye is cautious on this front, and points out the areas where biotech is limited. They also cover lab-grown meat, building materials, microbes to fix nitrogen in the soil, genetically engineering plants to sequester more carbon, and Shayle’s fungal biomass chaise lounge. Catalyst is supported by Antenna Group. For 25 years, Antenna has partn
18/01/202243 minutes 42 seconds
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Inside the Energy Department's loan deal to back hydrogen

First-of-a-kind projects are, by definition, unproven. Despite the abundance of capital in climate tech these days, the valley of death for new technologies still exists. But there are solutions. And this week on Catalyst, we have a case study of one of them.  The U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office has $40 billion of capacity to help solve this exact kind of problem. It just announced its first conditional commitment for a $1 billion loan guarantee to help Monolith scale up its first megaplant in Nebraska.  Monolith uses methane pyrolysis – heating methane up to high temperatures – to split the gas into hydrogen and carbon black, which is an essential component of tires, plastics, rubber and other materials. It’s a key indication of where the department is putting its priorities.  We brought both sides of the negotiating table on the podcast: Rob Hanson, the CEO and co-founder of Monolith; and Jigar Shah, the Director of the Loan Programs Office.  Jigar shares what he’s h
10/01/202249 minutes 43 seconds
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Is nuclear fusion getting close?

The common trope about fusion is that it has always been – and will always be – a decade away. So is something different happening now? Recently, we’ve seen technical achievements in fusion, like near ignition at the National Ignition Facility in August, yielding “a record 1.3 MJ in fusion energy, releasing, for the first time, more energy than the fuel capsule absorbed.” Fusion startups have also enjoyed a recent barrage of mega-funding. First, General Fusion raised $130 million. Then Helion Energy raised $500 million with another $1.8 billion committed based on whether it hits milestones. And then Commonwealth Fusion Systems closed a $1.8 billion venture round. (Energy Impact Partners, where Shayle is a partner, has also invested in Zap Energy). So what's happening here? To find out, Shayle talks to Dr. Scott Hsu, ARPA-E’s program director for fusion R&D.  Shayle asks: what role will fusion actually play in the future of our energy supply?  Scott and Shayle cover technical advancemen
23/12/202147 minutes 34 seconds
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Quantum computing could be a critical climate solution

What exactly counts as “climate tech”? Basically all human activity is responsible for emissions, directly or indirectly. So nearly every new technology trend or capability has at least some role to play in curbing those emissions. Robotics? Sure. Artificial intelligence and machine learning, of course. Synthetic biology? Definitely.  But here's a really interesting one: quantum computing.  Mark Cupta is convinced it may actually be one of the most important technologies we'll invent to mitigate climate change. Mark is a partner at Prelude Ventures, a climate-focused venture capital firm, and he’s made multiple investments in quantum-computing companies.  Shayle and Mark talk about how it might unlock climate-tech breakthroughs that would otherwise take decades of brute-force PhD power. They talk about applications for new materials, battery and fuel chemistries, and synthetic biology. It could also help to solve optimization problems to improve the efficiency of logistics and operatio
16/12/202151 minutes 18 seconds
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The future of natural gas

There are many pathways to decarbonize natural gas. Do we replace it, full stop? If so, with what? Or do we blend natural gas with alternatives, or rip up the old infrastructure and replace it with something new?  There's a lot to unpack here. But also a lot of opportunities for innovators in the climatetech world. To dig into it, Shayle turns to Andy Lubershane, the senior vice president for research & strategy at Energy Impact Partners. Andy and Shayle talk about natural gas’ existential threat: upstream methane emissions.  And remember the utility death spiral? Andy argues that, if solar and DERs continue on their current rise, natural gas infrastructure might actually face a death spiral itself. They talk about capturing methane emissions, replacing gas with hydrogen, recovering solid carbon, and renewable natural gas. And where might natural gas stay strong? Andy says to keep an eye on distribution-level building heat.  Catalyst is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary M
09/12/202146 minutes 45 seconds
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A bumpy ride toward decarbonizing aviation

Aviation represents 2-3% of global GHG emissions. If the aviation sector were a country, its emissions would rank around 6th in the world, somewhere between Japan and Germany. If you add the additional warming impacts of aircraft contrails and estimates are that aviation contributes something like 3.5% of total anthropogenic warming. It's also another one of those notoriously tough-to-abate sectors. Jet fuel (a.k.a. kerosene) is pretty magical. It has enabled the movement of people and the globalization of high-value goods.  Sustainable aviation fuels, hydrogen, electrification, and electrofuels are all possible solutions -- but they all carry their own challenges. Dan Rutherford knows those challenges well. He's the Director of the aviation and maritime programs at the International Council on Clean Transportation.  In this episode, Shayle talks to Dan about the pros and cons of these various tech pathways. They look at how these technologies could play out in the tight economics of a
02/12/202150 minutes 28 seconds
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Kickstarting a $1 trillion market for carbon removal

Stripe, a fintech startup worth $100 billion, is trying to kick-start a $1 trillion market for carbon removal. The company is being extremely transparent about its processes, which means we get a window into the exciting, messy, often very experimental world of removing gigatons of CO2 emissions from the atmosphere. Traditionally, carbon removal has involved planting lots of trees. There have also been a select few companies toiling away at expensive-but-promising direct-air capture. But it turns out there are many ways to remove CO2. The earth already has a massive carbon cycle — plants, rocks, oceans and soil are already part of it. So there are many candidates for tapping electrochemistry and synthetic biology to accelerate natural processes. It’s still a small market — and one that needs to grow massively over the coming decades. So how do we build it? Shayle addresses that question with Nan Ransohoff, Stripe’s head of climate. Shayle and Nan break down lessons from Stripe’s first
18/11/202139 minutes 15 seconds
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Can 'deeptech' venture capital solve climate change?

Can investors win by betting on early-stage innovations in hard-to-decarbonize sectors such as energy, transportation, agriculture and heavy industry?  The answer doesn’t matter only to venture capitalists. If you believe that we need fundamental science and engineering innovation to climb our way out of the climate crisis, it's an important question. Plenty of reasonable observers say the answer is no. Case in point: The 2016 MIT report Venture Capital and Cleantech: The Wrong Model for Clean Energy Innovation by Ben Gaddy and Varun Sivaram. But things have changed since “Cleantech 1.0,” the first wave of investment in the sector that resulted in a lot of bankruptcies -- but also some big hits like Tesla, Sunrun, and Nest. Capital is flowing back into the sector at stunning rates, as venture investors all turn their attention to climatetech. So do the arguments against deeptech climate venture capital hold up today? To explore this question, Shayle turns to Ramez Naam, another veteran
11/11/202151 minutes 23 seconds
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Introducing: Catalyst w/ Shayle Kann

Shayle Kann has been thinking about the technology and market fixes for climate change for almost two decades. On Catalyst, he brings on the smartest people in climate tech to think through those hard problems. This show is about how we overcome the climate challenge. Not just at a theoretical level, but using actual technologies, tackling actual market structures, and accounting for the biggest variable of them all -- money. Subscribe everywhere. The show is a co-production of Canary Media and Post Script Media.
02/11/20211 minute 25 seconds