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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 Latitude Media and Canary Media.
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The Carbon Copy
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The Carbon Copy

Latitude Media + Canary Media

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A narrative news show about the trends shifting our carbon-based economy. Each week, host Stephen Lacey digs into the business and technology stories that explain the rise of clean energy, the challenge to fossil fuels, and how the energy system is transforming in dramatic ways. A co-production of Latitude Media and Canary Media.
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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 …
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It took 12 years to triple global renewables – and now we need to do it in eight years. As the latest UN climate summit begins, there’s a proposal on the table to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030. Countries may agree to it in theory, but can the market meet it in practice? This week, we’ll look at why this tripling is necessary, how it coul…
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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…
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Weather forecasts for the grid depend on supercomputers to calculate the flow of heat, water, and radiation in the atmosphere, and then spit out predictions about what could happen next. These supercomputers are powerful. But they are also expensive and slow, relative to how quickly the weather changes. A new class of AI-based weather forecasts cou…
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This is a partner podcast episode, brought to you by Intersect Power. The U.S. grid is in trouble. It's old; it's really hard to build new transmission lines; and that is limiting the amount of wind and solar we can add to the system. Sheldon Kimber, Founder and CEO of the clean energy developer Intersect Power, says the grid is “broken.” But he ha…
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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 …
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Microsoft was an early mover in integrating OpenAI’s LLM into its Azure cloud services. And now every part of Microsoft’s technology stack — from cloud infrastructure to data analytics to consumer apps — will be “reimagined” for the AI era, said Nadella. As a result, every industry will inevitably be impacted by AI. Utilities will also find themsel…
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Wind, solar and batteries have seen steady, fairly predictable cost drops over the last two decades. But a combination of pressures – supply chain turmoil, grid constraints, interest rates, labor costs – has raised costs for products and projects. And they’re challenging the commercial viability of emerging sectors like offshore wind and hydrogen. …
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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. Davi…
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The industrial sector is set to overtake power generation and transportation as the biggest source of planet warming emissions in the US by 2035, according to The Rhodium Group. The sector’s impact is even greater on the global scale. Industry around the world accounts for more carbon dioxide emissions than all forms of transportation combined – la…
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We want your climatetech questions for Shayle’s Ask Me Anything episode! Email questions to us at catalyst@latitudemedia.com. 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…
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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 mi…
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There are a lot of quarterly ups and downs in venture dollars deployed across climatetech. But the trend is generally up. Since 2021, more than 200 new climate investment funds have been created with $121 billion under management, according to CTVC. Earlier this month, Canary Media Editorial Director Eric Wesoff explored the evolved state of climat…
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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…
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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…
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California is at a crossroads. The state has already installed nearly 1.8 million rooftop solar systems, 5 gigawatts of batteries, and 1.6 million electric cars. But it is also facing some serious challenges. The list is long: controversial policy changes, extreme weather threats, and backlogs – lots and lots of backlogs. It is facing serious backl…
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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 i…
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Just as the auto industry resolves supply chain problems from the Covid pandemic, a new disruptive force has emerged: labor disputes. Nearly 20,000 American auto workers are on strike as they ask for higher pay. At the heart of their concerns: will the shift to electric cars make them worse off? We’ll look at a strike that is raising big questions …
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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 pri…
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Renewables and electric vehicles are on a tear, and they’ll soon likely attract $2 trillion in yearly investment. But global emissions have not peaked. So what are the new frontiers of technology that will make renewables and storage more valuable – and draw down emissions at the speed needed? This week, we’re going to reflect on that question comi…
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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 inter…
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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 atm…
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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 ele…
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In the last few months, three major projects in Europe and America have been delayed or canceled, thanks to rapidly rising costs. Those projects make up more than 10% of current offshore wind capacity in the EU and US, according to Bloomberg. Another 9.7 gigawatts are at risk in America, as developers look to renegotiate contracts. The complexity o…
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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…
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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 i…
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As the carbon dioxide removal industry grows, engineered solutions like direct-air capture are getting more attention. According to the IPCC, novel methods for carbon dioxide removal are necessary to meet the Paris climate targets. But another UN body, the UNFCCC, recently sparked controversy by concluding in draft language that “engineering-based …
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This is a partner podcast episode, brought to you by South32. Pat Risner spent 25 years as an engineer, general manager, and executive at one of the largest mining companies in the world, BHP. Today, he's the president of the Hermosa Project, a mining development in Arizona run by the global mining firm, South32. That mine is the only advanced proj…
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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 deli…
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A year after it was passed, the Inflation Reduction Act is already reshaping the energy and automotive industries in the U.S. New factories for a wide array of clean energy components are being planned. Old factories are being reopened, retooled, or expanded. According to a Canary Media analysis, that is amounting to over $70 billion in new investm…
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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…
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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 car…
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In August, the US government is set to issue standards for hydrogen tax credits. Over the last year, a debate has been raging over how strict those standards should be for matching renewables with hydrogen production. With rules set to be released in the coming weeks, ad campaigns have popped up from industry trying to persuade the feds to adopt lo…
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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 t…
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For years, rooftop solar was overlooked as a reliability solution in New England. But in a very sudden reversal, the region's grid operator says it’s critical to keeping the lights on across the region. New England doesn't have its own fossil resources, so the region is dependent on oil and natural gas imported from other regions of the country. Ov…
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For decades, we have wildly underestimated the growth of renewables. Now that cost curves and deployments have exceeded all expectations, what’s next for the clean energy industry? This week, we feature a conversation between journalist David Roberts and futurist Ramez Naam about what's ahead for tech trends – from renewables and batteries, to grid…
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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 dif…
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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 …
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Mateo Jaramillo is the co-founder and CEO of the long-duration storage company Form Energy. Mateo has spent the last two decades building battery storage companies, with home base being California. But he just moved from Silicon Valley to the Rust Belt, where Form is scaling production of its iron-air batteries at an old steel mill in West Virginia…
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Putin’s assault on Ukraine triggered an energy crisis that sent Europe’s economies into a tailspin and put the European energy transition to the test. But how did the European Union, a leader in climate action, become so dependent on Russian oil and gas to begin with? This week, we're posting the first episode in a new five-part series for The Big …
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Last week, we started the show with a simple question: what do we want from the artificial intelligence systems advancing so quickly? Inevitably, when we start grappling with that question, we have to talk about ethics and data quality. This week, we feature two conversations about the ethics and implementation of AI across the energy economy. We'l…
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More than a third of the world’s current greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels go through underground networks of fungi, according to a new peer-reviewed study in Current Biology. That’s a whopping 13 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalents per year. Mycorrhizal fungi act as a symbiotic partner of plants, seeking out nutrients and bringing them…
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We are at the start of a commercial arms race in artificial intelligence that has thrilled some, and alarmed others. For many, it's both. There's no shortage of heady proclamations about where the technology is headed. Google CEO Sundar Pachai calls AI “more profound than fire or electricity.” We are in the middle of a period of exuberance in AI, w…
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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, Al…
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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 Dunc…
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As we evaluate the Biden team's approach to building back domestic manufacturing and climate-positive infrastructure, we keep coming back to the question: what makes the current push different from the Obama era one? You can’t answer the question without exploring the factors behind the demise of some companies of the cleantech 1.0 era – in particu…
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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…
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Republicans dominate every part of government in Texas. It's been that way for two decades. It also happens to be a state with the most wind and utility-scale solar development in the country. Over their 20 years of dominance, Republicans in the state have mostly supported renewables, often in a very warm way. But lately, they've turned against the…
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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 tim…
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We are at an inflection point for electric vehicles. The mass adoption phase is underway in many countries, including America. The US government is putting billions of dollars behind EV charging and battery production. And nearly every automaker is releasing or developing an EV model. But the race to electrify cars and trucks is about so much more …
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