This interview with Kristina is important because we discuss a unique angle on the energy transition. The role that grids play in shaping both how we produce and consume electricity.
We discuss the opportunities of electrification in developing countries, how electricity can help women earn more money by powering the machines to help make clothing or pottery, and how the electricity grid will be shaped in the future.
Kristina provides a conceptual framework to understand how super grids to microgrids shape our self-sufficiency and interconnectedness as a society.
We also discuss blockchain technologies and the potential limits of peer to peer payment systems. This brings up how utility companies change their business models to meet these new technologies, integrating and changing both the energy system and society.
About the AuthorDr. Michael LaBelle is an associate professor at Central European University. He holds a joint appointment between the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy and the Department of Economics and Business. He founded the MyEnergy2050 website to change how we communicate and implement the energy transition.
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By Michael LaBelle — 5 days ago
This week we speak with Reetta Kaila, Director for Sustainable Fuels and Environment at Wartsila. She holds a Doctorate of Sciences in Industrial Chemistry. And if you review her CV, and listen to our discussion, you’ll both see and hear her drive to both research and operationalize a more circular form of power production in both industry and academia. She is a true scientist in solving problems and holding substantial experience to solve some of the key technological challenges we are facing, such as using hydrogen and gas in power production and propulsion.
On the surface, Reetta differs from previous guests because she works for a large corporation, which is Wartsila. But as you’ll hear, Wartsila is a company that is the energy transition. That is, they are the ones building the power plants, the engines, and the batteries that underpin the energy and transport system of the current fossil fuel era, and as you’ll hear, the future era of lower or zero carbon engines and storage options.
Wärtsilä, which according to their website is a global leader in smart technologies and complete lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets. In 2020, Wärtsilä’s net sales totaled EUR 4.6 billion with approximately 18,000 employees. The company has operations in over 200 locations in more than 70 countries around the world. That is the general description from the website.
But what will you learn from my conversation with Reeta today?
First, you’ll learn about pink hydrogen. That is my teaser, and you’ll have to listen to the show to find out what is pink hydrogen.
Second, you’ll find out how and why designing and building power and pollution abatement equipment for ships drives innovative solutions. Designing for these small environments can translate into big innovations on land.
I really liked our discussion about working in a marine environment, particularly on ships. Because if you think about the Earth, it is one big giant spaceship. And as Reeta tells us, the engines of a ship can produce 90 MW which is the same as that consumed by a big city. If you think about that size we really are talking about massive infrastructure being built by Wartsila. It is this machinery is where the uptake in new low or zero-carbon technologies needs to be used to reduce carbon emissions.
Innovation, as Reeta discovered isn’t just done in a laboratory, but as she points out it is solving problems when a customer needs it. She uses an example of what to do with the gases coming from boiling heavy oil (or bulk oil) on a ship. Well, they discovered you could mix it with LNG and feed it back into the engine – and wala, not only do you get more power, but you get innovation.
Among, other topics, we learn about Power X, which is a program that looks to understand what to do with the extra electricity on the grids created by renewable energy. Some of it can go to battery storage, or even be turned into hydrogen for longer storage. Our discussion on hydrogen comes about halfway, but you’ll find it really exciting when we discuss the different properties of hydrogen and gas. And how you can even mix 25% hydrogen and 75% natural gas and power an engine. However, just a word of caution, don’t try this at home.
We end the interview with understanding the role of society and with a hope that by 2050 we are running on pure hydrogen. Overall, I found our conversation fascinating for understanding what are the new technological – and even policy – challenges for companies producing the machinery that is now powering our energy system today and tomorrow.
By Michael LaBelle — 3 months ago
This week we speak with Mathy Stanislaus the Director of Public Policy at the Global Battery Alliance.
Today’s episode is not what you think. Batteries hold the potential, and I would even say the ‘key’ to revolutionize our transport and energy system. In this episode, you won’t hear about the technological leaps in battery technologies. Instead, you will hear about a sector hearing the call for greater social and environmental responsibility. This needs to be integrated into their entire lifecycle. As Mathy says, companies can no longer paper over their social and environmental responsibilities. That is, firms can no longer pretend they are isolated entities in the value chain, rather, they hold just as much responsibility over the development of their sector as the firms and organizations above, below and next to them.
The Global Battery Alliance is spun out from efforts from the World Economic Forum to address issues of child labor. The central role batteries can play in a clean energy transition tips the producers of batteries into a favorable market opportunity, but they must also clean up their business.
As you will hear Mathy explain, there is global competition developing between countries but also a desire to ensure the pursuit of batteries provides opportunities for all. Verification of the social and environmental impact of batteries, both upstream, downstream and in the reuse of the materials is now central for the sector to demonstrate it is a clean technology. Thus the topic of justice and equity are hit on, but so is the topic of data management and the role that transparent data collection and verification plays in meeting the demands of the Paris Agreement.
Our discussion on the central role of data reflects my discussion in the last episode with Marco Schletz, episode 28 around blockchain technology. Mathy hits on the same points about the ability of well-collected data creating more transparency around resource use and efforts to do so on a large meta-scale.
Access to financing now hinges on demonstrating through data, the socially and environmentally sustainable measures each company deploys to ensure they are creating green, clean and equitable energy.
By Michael LaBelle — 1 month ago
This week our guest is Linda Zeilina, the CEO of the International Sustainable Finance Center.
The discussion, as the name implies, is about sustainable finance. But, from a very important perspective. Which is about expanding the circle for policy making, also means expanding the role of stakeholders in creating solutions where finance assists sustainability priorities, rather than simply profit opportunities.
The topic is how assisting people in governments and companies – expanding the perspectives of stakeholders, translates into better investment environments. This includes raising awareness of Environmental, Social and Governance ratings (ESGs), and the impact on investors within the EU. There is a clear connection between profits of companies and their ability to meet sustainability requirements from both the EU and – as we’ve discussed before on this podcast – from banks. There is now a clear connection between the ability of a company to make money – that is to generate profits, and the necessity to align their sustainability practices.
This episode is important because Linda highlights the inter-relationship between policy stability, predictability and risks. Policy and political risk are emerging as high in the Central European region. It is becoming clear that the politicians are unable or unwilling to adapt to the emerging financial penalties that exist in the EU. In the EU, defining ‘sustainability’ emerges as a clear accounting system. This is a topic for future episodes. Now is the time to develop regional and national ways to enhance sustainable business practices with the assistance of governments.
The main takeaway in this episode was how the Central European region is representative of other developing regions. The push for more jobs and company profits can’t be done at the expense of the environment and society. It is time to create opportunities for a broad range of stakeholders to find effective ways for businesses to do business in environmentally and socially sustainable ways.