The World Changing Podcast

Aston

Join us as we talk to the skeptics, supporters, and innovators in the fields that depend on electricity to run their industries, which is changing every single day. Hosted by Greg Robinson and Flo Lumsden, an Aston podcast produced by Chorus Studios. read less
TechnologyTechnology

Episodes

No Miracles Needed to 100% Clean Energy with Mark Z. Jacobson (Stanford U., The Solutions Project)
Feb 1 2024
No Miracles Needed to 100% Clean Energy with Mark Z. Jacobson (Stanford U., The Solutions Project)
Since he first struggled with air pollution as a teenager in Los Angeles, Mark Z. Jacobson has committed himself to understanding and solving this issue. And boy, has he succeeded! Today, Mark is a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford University. He has published six books and over 175 peer-reviewed papers.His research forms the scientific basis of the Green New Deal and many laws and commitments for cities, states and countries to transition to 100 percent renewable electricity and heat generation. In Mark’s most recent book, “No Miracles Needed,” he says we still have time to save the planet without resorting to 'miracle' technologies. Not only is there no need for carbon capture, biofuels or nuclear power, but investment in these technologies are sucking up valuable time and money we could be using to scale existing clean energy technology - wind, water and solar. We also discussed one of our favorite challenges to greening the grid, incentives. How is the Inflation Reduction Act incentivizing the development of various forms of energy and “climate tech”? Let’s find out. References:Mark Z. Jacobson Full CV - Has links to Mark's breakthrough research as well as his interview on The David Letterman Show.Reference at 01:08:32 to organizations that track government subsidies to the fossil fuel industry .- International Monetary Fund The Solutions Project Outline: 1. Introduction to the World Changing Podcast (00:00-01:19)- Podcast's purpose: deconstruct projects and products for a decentralized and carbon-free future.- Host introduction: Greg Robinson, co-founder of Aston and producer.- Mention of first episode of the second season.- Guest introduction: Mark Jacobson, professor and director at Stanford University.2. Greg and Flo Introduce Mark Z. Jacobson2a. Mark Jacobson's Research on Fossil Fuel Elimination (01:32-05:09)- Mention of Mark Jacobson's work in 2015 on a mathematically verifiable plan to eliminate fossil fuels.- Research initially focused on the US and expanded to 139 countries.- Reference to Mark Jacobson's book, "No Miracles Needed".2b. Background of Mark Jacobson (03:24-06:30)- Mark Jacobson's position as a professor and director at Stanford University.- Publication of books and peer-reviewed papers.- Involvement in the Solutions Project.- TED talk and appearance on David Letterman's show.- Flo discusses her favorite parts of the conversation.4. Discussion on Climate Change and Finance (06:30-08:37)- Mention of attending COP28 and roundtable discussion on direct air capture.- Invitation to discuss topics Mark Jacobson has recently talked about.- Focus on avoiding explanations of Mark Jacobson's research and papers.5. Financial Challenges in Transitioning to Renewable Energy (08:42-22:09)- Exploration of financial challenges in renewable energy transition.- Emphasis on time constraints and urgency.- Mention of a guest with expertise in power electronics and transmission lines.6. Overcoming Barriers and Unlocking Financing (22:09-49:26)- Addressing the need for solutions to overcome financial barriers.- Reference to the importance of information and providing cost-benefit analyses.- Highlighting the necessity of stakeholder engagement and community involvement.7. Scaling Research and Engaging Stakeholders (49:27-1:14:03)- Discussion on scaling Mark Jacobson's research across 139 countries.- Consideration of forming a company or utilizing NGO-style mechanisms for scaling.- Importance of engaging stakeholders and policymakers to effect change.8. Conclusion and Call to Action (1:14:03-1:16:24)- Acknowledgment of the need to target specific listeners and stakeholders.- Appreciation for the conversation with Mark Jacobson.- Closing remarks and invitation to follow the World Changing Podcast.Note: The timestamps provided are approximate and may differ slightly from the actual timing in the transcript.
Modernizing & Decarbonizing the US Power Grid with Gary Rackliffe (Hitachi Energy, ABB, Westinghouse Electric)
Jun 20 2023
Modernizing & Decarbonizing the US Power Grid with Gary Rackliffe (Hitachi Energy, ABB, Westinghouse Electric)
The dream of the smart, sustainable grid. What will it take to achieve the energy grid of our dreams? We are so excited to share this conversation we had with Gary Rackliffe. Gary is a special person to talk to for several reasons. First, Gary has spent his entire 30+ year career building and designing the US power grid. Second, he is a leader in the planning and technology needed to modernize and decarbonize the grid for the future. Our biggest take away from our conversation with him is we may already have a lot of the infrastructure and technology needed to meet our future energy needs. If we add more transmission lines along side time-sensitive consumption, we could achieve a lot of our goals. What is your take away from this conversation?Let us know!Gary's Full Bio:Gary Rackliffe is the Vice President for Market Development and Innovation at Hitachi Energy located in Raleigh, North Carolina.  He is an industry leader for the energy transition, grid modernization, and digital transformation of the electric power grid.  He has extensive experience leading Flexible AC Transmission Systems (FACTS); Utility Operations Software business development, sales, and product development; Strategy and Marketing Communications for Power Grids products and systems; Regional Sales for T&D equipment; and Innovation and Strategic Initiatives for smart grid and grid modernization, the digital transformation, and the energy transition.   Gary is a member of the Department of Commerce Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee (REEEAC), the DistribuTECH Advisory Committee, the GridWise Alliance Technical Council (past board member), the E4 Carolinas Innovation Council, and the IEC Smart Energy Systems Committee (SyC SE), serving as the SyC SE Technical Advisor for the IEC US National Committee.  He also chairs NEMA’s Utility Products & Systems Division Leadership Committee and serves on the Board of Directors for the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster, the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), Texas A&M Smart Grid Center, and E4 Carolinas.Gary holds BS and ME degrees in Electric Power Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY and a MBA degree from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA.  He is a Registered Professional Engineer and an IEEE Senior Member.  He has co-authored a T&D planning book and has written numerous technical papers and articles.Terms and notes for the show:NYTimes article referenced in the introduction: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2023/06/12/climate/us-electric-grid-energy-transition.htmlTransmission and Distribution: A transmission line carries electric energy from one point to another in an electrical power system. They can carry alternating current or direct current,  or a combination of both.Transmission lines are important for moving energy around. HVDC:A high-voltage direct current electric power transmission system, offers long distance power transmission, Improved integrity of renewable energy and the ability to connect different power grids. Solar PV: PV stands for photovoltaic and it gets its name from the process of converting light photons to electricity, which is also called the photovoltaic effect.  This is another way (fancier) to describe solar power.Load versus Generation: Load is another word for the demand for electricity on a grid.It's the total electricity being consumed or removed from the grid by the users of the grid.Dispatchable power versus a Non-dispatchable power: These two terms refer to the ability of a power source to be controlled and adjusted, to meet fluctuating demand for electricity. Dispatchable power sources (currently) include fossil fuels, hydrogen, Geothermal and biomass power. Non dispatchable power also known as intermittent or variable resources are those that cannot be easily controlled or scheduled to match the electricity demand. Examples include solar power, wind power, wave and tidal power.These fall into the non dispatchable category because their availability is influenced by weather conditions and natural phenomenon. One gigawatt:One gigawatt is enough to power about 750,000 homes. So, three quarters of a million homes can be powered by one gigawatt.100% uptime: 100% uptime it's a reliability term. It is referring to perfect or near perfect reliability with no power outages.
Greg & Flo Take on Crypto
May 29 2023
Greg & Flo Take on Crypto
What the heck is crypto? And for that matter, what is money? Greg and I take a thought provoking and philosophical journey exploring these fundamental questions. Our conversation delves into the profound implications of these technologies and their significance in our lives. One of the key topics we tackle is the formidable energy needs associated with these technologies. Who will be responsible for installing the infrastructure necessary to support crypto and decentralized finance?Let's discuss!Here are references to the facts and topics discussed in our conversation, with timecode:(02:39) Greg asks Flo if she knows the difference between “coins” and “tokens.”To tell if you're dealing with a crypto coin or token, find out whether the cryptocurrency has a blockchain or not. If it has its own blockchain, then it's a coin, and if it operates on an existing blockchain, then it's a token. (reference)(07:05) Greg and Flo question when money began to be used in human society.In 2021, Chinese archaeologists with the State University of Zhengzhou announced the discovery of the world’s oldest known, securely dated coin minting site in Guanzhuang in Henan Province, China. A mint is a facility where currency is created. Sometime around 640 BCE, this facility began striking spade coins, one of the first standardized forms of metal coinage. (reference)(09:10) Greg says that in 2022, about 950,000 people in the world owned one Bitcoin.In 2022 according to blockchain analytics company Glassnode, the number of wallets holding at least 1 BTC or more reached 950,000. (reference)(28:00) Greg talks about Figure.comLearn more about Figure here: https://www.figure.com/about/(37:21) Greg says “The crypto industry has stomped out Ponzi schemes in a few years.”Greg is referring to the fact that previous ponzi schemes, like that of Bernie Madoff's, went unchallenged for decades. In contrast, the FTX ponzi scheme was caught and brought to justice within a few years of commencing operation. (reference)(39:15) Greg claims "The fastest rate of crypto adoption in the world is Africa.”In 2021, Chainanalysis noted that Africa 'has some of the highest grassroots adoption in the world, with Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania all ranking in the top 20 of our Global Crypto Adoption Index.'" (reference)(01:16:44) Greg: “AI will use more electricity than blockchain technology as a whole.”According to third party analysis sources, the race to build high-performance, AI-powered search engines is likely to require a dramatic rise in computing power, and with it a massive increase in the amount of energy that tech companies require and the amount of carbon they emit. (reference)(01:18:53) Greg: “We have to grow the grid by about 60% in the next handful of years.”"Most plausible pathways to net-zero emissions call for the electrification of multiple services, such as heating and transportation. The resulting increase in electricity demand will require major upgrades to the grid, with some studies suggesting a 60% increase in peak demand by 2050." (reference)