OwlTail

Cover image of Catalyst with Shayle Kann

Catalyst with Shayle Kann

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.

Popular episodes

All episodes

Read more

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.

Averting water wars as we decarbonize

Podcast cover
Read more

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 of Thirst for Power: Energy, Water and Human Survival. Michael is a professor of energy resources at the University of Texas-Austin and chief technology officer at Energy Impact Partners, where Shayle is a partner. 


They cover topics like:


  • The surprising places we use water in energy, like extracting minerals and natural gas, growing crops for biofuels and sequestering carbon
  • The ways energy improves the quantity and quality of water, allowing us to move water longer distances, reach deeper wells and desalinate water
  • How to avoid exacerbating water problems as we decarbonize
  • Whether cheap, abundant electricity from nuclear fusion will power wide-spread desalination
  • Why the data on water systems is so scarce compared to energy systems
  • How prescient the new Mad Max water-war movies are


Resources:


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 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.com to learn more.

Solar Power International and Energy Storage International are returning in-person this year as part of RE+. Come join everyone in Anaheim for the largest, B2B clean energy event in North America. Catalyst listeners can receive 15% off a full conference, non-member pass using promo code CANARY15. Register here.

Sep 15 2022

41mins

Play

Could geothermal become a major zero-emissions player?

Podcast cover
Read more

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 world, potentially adding hundreds of gigawatts to current geothermal capacity.


Lara and Jamie discuss major questions facing the geothermal industry, like:


  • How and where to drill for consistent hot temperatures? 
  • How long before a well is depleted of heat-carrying capacity? 
  • What sort of surveying and information do funders need to deal with exploration risks? 
  • How can the industry take advantage of the co-benefits of geothermal drilling, such as lithium extraction, carbon sequestration and waste heat?
  • What working fluids, like water or critical CO2, are appropriate for a given project?
  • How viable are geothermal-source heat pumps and how do they compare to air-source heat pumps?
  • What are the potential environmental impacts of geothermal?
  • What role should the oil and gas industry play in scaling this zero-emission technology?


Resources:

  • Canary Media: Advanced geothermal heats up with $138M round for startup Fervo Energy
  • Department of Energy: DOE Launches New Energy Earthshot to Slash the Cost of Geothermal Power

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 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.com to learn more.

Solar Power International and Energy Storage International are returning in-person this year as part of RE+. Come join everyone in Anaheim for the largest, B2B clean energy event in North America. Catalyst listeners can receive 15% off a full conference, non-member pass using promo code CANARY15. Register here.

Sep 09 2022

1hr 2mins

Play

The dirt on soil carbon credits

Podcast cover
Read more

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 have been captured anyway? Or would it have remained locked away anyway?
  • What role could third-party grading systems play in differentiating high-quality credits from low-quality ones?


Resources:

  • CarbonPlan: A buyer’s guide to soil carbon offsets
  • CarbonPlan: Unpacking ton-year accounting
  • Canary Media: Carbon storage gets dirty: The movement to sequester CO2 in soils
  • Sylvera: Carbon Credit Ratings: Frameworks & Processes White Paper

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 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.com to learn more.

Solar Power International and Energy Storage International are returning in-person this year as part of RE+. Come join everyone in Anaheim for the largest, B2B clean energy event in North America. Catalyst listeners can receive 15% off a full conference, non-member pass using promo code CANARY15. Register here.

Aug 25 2022

43mins

Play

Booking your first zero-emissions flight

Podcast cover
Read more

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 combustion compare?
  • How do airports need to prepare for hydrogen fueling? Hint: Terminal-sized upgrades.


Catalyst is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.

Resources:

  • Canary Media: Can battery-powered airplanes decarbonize air travel? 
  • Canary Media: How do we clean up air travel? Fuel from fast-food grease is just the start
  • Bloomberg (video): Hydrogen May Be the Jet Fuel of the Future
  • Catalyst: A bumpy ride toward decarbonizing aviation


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.com to learn more.

Solar Power International and Energy Storage International are returning in-person this year as part of RE+. Come join everyone in Anaheim for the largest, B2B clean energy event in North America. Catalyst listeners can receive 15% off a full conference, non-member pass using promo code CANARY15. Register here.

Aug 18 2022

41mins

Play

Will charging infrastructure be a bottleneck for electric vehicles?

Podcast cover
Read more

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 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.com to learn more.

Solar Power International and Energy Storage International are returning in-person this year as part of RE+. Come join everyone in Anaheim for the largest, B2B clean energy event in North America. Catalyst listeners can receive 15% off a full conference, non-member pass using promo code CANARY15. Register here.

Aug 11 2022

46mins

Play

What the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 would mean for climatetech

Podcast cover
Read more

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 industry and buildings. 

Shayle and Jesse walk through the key provisions in the proposed legislation and their predicted impacts, including:

  • Hundreds of new gigawatts of solar and wind capacity, plus new technology-neutral tax credits to support other technologies such as advanced nuclear
  • Building up a North American supply chain for electric vehicles (EVs)
  • Reducing the costs of EVs, sustainable aviation fuels, energy storage, hydrogen and more
  • Increased energy security for medium- and low-income households, such as installing heat pumps and insulation


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.com to learn more.

Solar Power International and Energy Storage International are returning in-person this year as part of RE+. Come join everyone in Anaheim for the largest, B2B clean energy event in North America. Catalyst listeners can receive 15% off a full conference, non-member pass using promo code CANARY15. Register here.

Aug 05 2022

59mins

Play

Watt It Takes: TeraWatt Infrastructure CEO Neha Palmer

Podcast cover
Read more

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-duty vehicles to meet our climate goals. But, how do we build and operate the charging infrastructure to power them?


That charging network is exactly what TeraWatt Infrastructure is building.


TeraWatt develops, owns, and manages charging infrastructure for these large vehicles. The company integrates hardware, software, and grid services along with on-site chargers. TerraWatt has a growing portfolio of land in strategic locations across the country that enables it to build and operate that charging infrastructure.


TeraWatt brings together a team of experts from data centers, transportation logistics, and electric cars. The more complex the high-powered charging needs, the better suited TeraWatt is for the task.


Watt It Takes host Emily Kirsch sat down with Neha to learn what it takes to electrify a sector with such massive energy demand. They talked about founding TeraWatt after Neha left Google, where she was a key figure in that company's ambitious renewable energy strategy. And they discuss the unique demands of heavy-duty transportation.


Powerhouse is an innovation firm that works with leading global corporations to help them find, partner with, invest in, and acquire the most innovative startups in clean energy, mobility, and climate. Powerhouse Ventures backs seed-stage startups building innovative software to rapidly decarbonize our global energy and mobility systems. You can learn more at powerhouse.fund, and you can subscribe to our newsletter at https://www.powerhouse.fund/subscribe.


If you like the show, subscribe on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.


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.com to learn more.

Solar Power International and Energy Storage International are returning in-person this year as part of RE+. Come join everyone in Anaheim for the largest, B2B clean energy event in North America. Catalyst listeners can receive 15% off a full conference, non-member pass using promo code CANARY15. Register here.

Jul 28 2022

43mins

Play

Seeking the holy grail of batteries

Podcast cover
Read more

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 number of chemistries dominate or will there be a rapid diversification of battery chemistries to meet different needs?
  • Is fast charging a nice-to-have or need-to-have?
  • Will the rising costs of battery materials, especially lithium, slow the adoption of EVs

Plus, Sam explains why he is no longer bearish on vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging.

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.com to learn more.

Solar Power International and Energy Storage International are returning in-person this year as part of RE+. Come join everyone in Anaheim for the largest, B2B clean energy event in North America. Catalyst listeners can receive 15% off a full conference, non-member pass using promo code CANARY15. Register here.

Jul 21 2022

53mins

Play

Crossing the valley of death

Podcast cover
Read more

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 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.com to learn more.

Solar Power International and Energy Storage International are returning in-person this year as part of RE+. Come join everyone in Anaheim for the largest, B2B clean energy event in North America. Catalyst listeners can receive 15% off a full conference, non-member pass using promo code CANARY15. Register here.

Jul 14 2022

51mins

Play

The Carbon Copy: Get ready for the battery recycling boom

Podcast cover
Read more

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 five exciting startups tackling battery recycling from different angles. And check out all of Canary’s Recycling Renewables special coverage.

The Carbon Copy is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.

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.com to learn more.

Solar Power International and Energy Storage International are returning in-person this year as part of RE+. Come join everyone in Anaheim for the largest, B2B clean energy event in North America. Catalyst listeners can receive 15% off a full conference, non-member pass using promo code CANARY15. Register here.

Jul 07 2022

22mins

Play

How to Save a Planet: Spark Tank! How Do We Solve the Energy Storage Problem?

Podcast cover
Read more

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, FirstLight Power
  • Curtis VanWalleghem, CEO of Hydrostor
  • Dr. Cristina Prieto, Professor of Engineering at the University of Seville

Calls to Action


Check out our Calls to Action archive for all of the actions we've recommended on the show. Send us your ideas or feedback with our Listener Mail Form. Sign up for our newsletter here. And follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

This episode of How to Save a Planet was produced by Daniel Ackerman. The rest of our reporting and producing team includes Kendra Pierre-Louis, Rachel Waldholz and Anna Ladd. Our supervising producer is Matthew Shilts. Our editor is Caitlin Kenney. Our intern is Janae Morris. Sound design and mixing by Peter Leonard with original music from Emma Munger. Our fact checker for this episode was James Gaines.


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.com to learn more.



Solar Power International and Energy Storage International are returning in-person this year as part of RE+. Come join everyone in Anaheim for the largest, B2B clean energy event in North America. Catalyst listeners can receive 15% off a full conference, non-member pass using promo code CANARY15. Register here.

Jul 01 2022

47mins

Play

Which tech is overhyped, underhyped and just right?

Podcast cover
Read more

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 prices and backedup supply chains.
  • The state of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies and fleet electrification
  • Battery recycling, which is picking up speed due to concerns about the environmental impact of production and a shortage of materials
  • Whether web3- and crypto-climate startups are solving the right problem


Catalyst is brought to you by Arcadia. Arcadia allows innovators, businesses and communities to break the fossil fuel monopoly through its technology platform, Arc. Join Arcadia’s mission and find out how you or your business can help turn a fully decarbonized grid into a reality at arca​dia​.com/​c​a​t​alyst.

Catalyst is supported by Advanced Energy Economy. AEE is on the front lines of transforming policy that accelerates the move to 100 percent clean energy and electrified transportation in America. To learn how your business can play a key role in transforming policy and expanding markets, visit aee​.net/join.

Jun 23 2022

51mins

Play

Making sense of solar engineering

Podcast cover
Read more

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 the planet by 0.5 degrees Celsius in the following year. 

Marine cloud brightening would use salt aerosols to brighten a type of cloud that reflects solar radiation, a phenomenon already created by ocean-going ships.

They also cover cirrus cloud thinning and—straight out of a sci-fi movie—space mirrors.

They explore key questions, such as:

  • What do we know about the potential effects on ozone, precipitation and ecosystems? What do we need to research and what could we learn by testing?
  • Which could scale faster—Carbon dioxide removal or solar geoengineering? 
  • Solar geoengineering could cost a tiny fraction of the amount required to scale up CDR. Does that mean it could buy us time to draw down emissions more cheaply? Or does the relative affordability enable a rogue actor to deploy it without international collaboration?
  • And who gets to decide whether the world deploys solar geoengineering? Whose hand is on the thermostat, so to speak?

Links:

  • Nobel prize winner Paul Crutzen’s influential 2006 paper on stratospheric sulfur injection
  • A provocative New York Times Op-Ed promoting geoengineering from David Keith, professor of applied physics and public policy at Harvard who studies geoengineering

Catalyst is brought to you by Arcadia. Arcadia allows innovators, businesses and communities to break the fossil fuel monopoly through its technology platform, Arc. Join Arcadia’s mission and find out how you or your business can help turn a fully decarbonized grid into a reality at arca​dia​.com/​c​a​t​alyst.

Catalyst is supported by Advanced Energy Economy. AEE is on the front lines of transforming policy that accelerates the move to 100 percent clean energy and electrified transportation in America. To learn how your business can play a key role in transforming policy and expanding markets, visit aee​.net/join.

Jun 16 2022

44mins

Play

Introducing Climavores: a new show about food and climate

Podcast cover
Read more

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.

Jun 13 2022

4mins

Play

From biowaste to “biogold”

Podcast cover
Read more

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-authors propose a new term called biomass carbon removal and storage, or ‘BiCRS’, as a way to describe capturing carbon in biomass and then sequestering it. Startups Charm Industrial and Running Tide are pursuing this approach. Julio and his co-authors think of BiCRS as an alternative pathway to bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS). 

They then zoom in on a promising source of biomass: waste. Example projects include a ski hill built on an incinerator in Copenhagen and a planned waste-to-hydrogen plant in Lancaster, California

Shayle and Julio also dig into questions like:

  • How to procure and transport biomass, especially biowaste, at scale? 
  • How to avoid eco-colonialism, i.e. when wealthy countries exploit the resources of poorer countries to grow biomass without meaningful consent?
  • If everyone wants it, when is biowaste no longer waste? And when there’s a shortage of waste—like corn stover, for example—what’s the risk of turning to raw feedstocks, like corn?
  • How to pickle trees? (yes, you read that right)

Catalyst is brought to you by Arcadia. Arcadia allows innovators, businesses and communities to break the fossil fuel monopoly through its technology platform, Arc. Join Arcadia’s mission and find out how you or your business can help turn a fully decarbonized grid into a reality at arca​dia​.com/​c​a​t​alyst.

Catalyst is supported by Advanced Energy Economy. AEE is on the front lines of transforming policy that accelerates the move to 100 percent clean energy and electrified transportation in America. To learn how your business can play a key role in transforming policy and expanding markets, visit aee​.net/join.

Jun 09 2022

41mins

Play

Climate tech’s surprising bottleneck – land access

Podcast cover
Read more

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 sequestration and hydrogen storage? For technologies that require both land for renewables and underground storage for carbon sequestration, like Direct Air Capture, where do those locations overlap?
  • Could we see a run on waste biomass, given the tight supply of arable land suitable for producing new biomass? 
  • Where will access to land constrain supply of metals needed for batteries and infrastructure?


Catalyst is brought to you by Arcadia. Arcadia allows innovators, businesses and communities to break the fossil fuel monopoly through its technology platform, Arc. Join Arcadia’s mission and find out how you or your business can help turn a fully decarbonized grid into a reality at arca​dia​.com/​c​a​t​alyst.

Catalyst is supported by Advanced Energy Economy. AEE is on the front lines of transforming policy that accelerates the move to 100 percent clean energy and electrified transportation in America. To learn how your business can play a key role in transforming policy and expanding markets, visit aee​.net/join.

Jun 02 2022

40mins

Play

Tapping the goldmine of consumer energy data

Podcast cover
Read more

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 important disclosures: Shayle’s firm Energy Impact Partners (EIP) is an investor in Arcadia. EIP led the company's Series A and has invested in every round since. Arcadia is a sponsor of this podcast. Kiran is also a friend of Shayle’s, and Shayle is an Arcadia customer.

Shayle and Kiran discuss key questions about consumer data, such as:

  • What are the most valuable data points? Kiran and Shayle talk about grid carbon intensity, on-time bill payments and more.
  • What level of fidelity do we need from the data? Do we need precise real-time data to prove savings to customers and support higher DER sales, or will high-level estimates suffice?
  • Do we need an ever-expanding pool of smart devices, or can we unlock most of the value with a few key devices, such as a hot water heater, heat pump and EV charger?
  • How do you develop a moat that protects you from competitors in the consumer data space?
  • What could the future of the DER market look like? Kiran argues that DER providers will shift from selling widgets to selling platforms and packages as whole-home managers.

Plus, Shayle reveals the smartest business idea that he ever turned into reality.

Catalyst is supported by Advanced Energy Economy. AEE is on the front lines of transforming policy that accelerates the move to 100 percent clean energy and electrified transportation in America. To learn how your business can play a key role in transforming policy and expanding markets, visit aee​.net/join.

May 26 2022

50mins

Play

How will the downturn affect climate tech?

Podcast cover
Read more

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, such as airlines’ recent purchases of Sustainable Aviation Fuels, or SAFs?
  • How should climate tech investors rethink their strategies? What should entrepreneurs expect in the coming years?


Catalyst is brought to you by Arcadia. Arcadia allows innovators, businesses and communities to break the fossil fuel monopoly through its technology platform, Arc. Join Arcadia’s mission and find out how you or your business can help turn a fully decarbonized grid into a reality at arcadia.com/catalyst.

Catalyst is supported by Advanced Energy Economy. AEE is on the front lines of transforming policy that accelerates the move to 100 percent clean energy and electrified transportation in America. To learn how your business can play a key role in transforming policy and expanding markets, visit aee.net/join.

May 19 2022

45mins

Play

Shayle’s “ask me anything” episode

Podcast cover
Read more

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: Shayle’s owl tattoo and the drinking game Shayle’s wife made up for whenever he begins listing things. 

Catalyst is brought to you by Arcadia. Arcadia allows innovators, businesses and communities to break the fossil fuel monopoly through its technology platform, Arc. Join Arcadia’s mission and find out how you or your business can help turn a fully decarbonized grid into a reality at arcadia.com/catalyst.

Catalyst is supported by Advanced Energy Economy. AEE is on the front lines of transforming policy that accelerates the move to 100 percent clean energy and electrified transportation in America. To learn how your business can play a key role in transforming policy and expanding markets, visit aee.net/join.

May 12 2022

52mins

Play

Growing the Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) market

Podcast cover
Read more

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 involved in Stripe's nearly $1 billion Frontier Fund. 

Shayle and Ryan cover key questions around CDR, like:

  • What are the important characteristics of a carbon-removal technology? What roles do permanence and additionality play?
  • Will investments in removal come at the expense of reducing emissions?
  • Will CDR become a commodity market?

Shayle also shares his experience with the first wave of carbon offsets, and the challenges that undermined those efforts. Ryan talks about separating out the cost of measurement and verification from the costs of removal, as well as why we should be thinking about radiative forcing more holistically, and not just carbon removal alone.

Catalyst is brought to you by Arcadia. Arcadia allows innovators, businesses and communities to break the fossil fuel monopoly through its technology platform, Arc. Join Arcadia’s mission and find out how you or your business can help turn a fully decarbonized grid into a reality at arcadia.com/catalyst.

Catalyst is supported by Advanced Energy Economy. AEE is on the front lines of transforming policy that accelerates the move to 100 percent clean energy and electrified transportation in America. To learn how your business can play a key role in transforming policy and expanding markets, visit aee.net/join.

May 05 2022

52mins

Play