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7th Quarterly Podcasters Roundtable - Big Three Points

40 min. read

Just before the holidays, we hosted a year-end episode of the Cleantech Podcasters Roundtable. Our lineup changed a bit, with the happy addition of John Belizaire.

Here are our “B3Ps,” or Big 3 Points from that episode. You can read the full transcript below.
 
1. At the risk of sounding like a broken record: The Cleantech sector needs to invest more time and resources into messaging. Fossil fuel front groups are still working the mainstream media refs, spreading misinformation about the Inflation Reduction Act, painting ESG investing as “woke capitalism,” and the messaging that next-generation nuclear fission will be our climate savior. We have the tools to accelerate the energy transition, and our industry conversations should reflect that confidence I our public communications.

2. Expect grid resiliency, distributed energy resources, retrofitting, and workforce employment to be big topics for the new year — and more stories about people leaving “dirty” jobs for clean ones.
 
3. Let’s celebrate the people and organizations that helped prevent a pro-fossil fuel wave in the recent elections. Our participants gave laurels to: the Environmental Voter Project, Governor Kathy Hochul, Governor Gavin Newsom, and the California Public Utilities Commission.

Listen to the full episode on the SunCast Podcast:

 

Transcript

Nico Johnson

Welcome everyone to this final quarterly clean tech podcasters roundtable of 2022. Here is our host, Mike Casey.

Mike Casey

Hey cleantechers, we are back with our seventh quarterly clean tech podcasters roundtable for our end of the year wrap up. We're going to be talking about topics ranging from the big market trends to how cleantech did in recent elections. We have a very happy new addition to the lineup here; we’ve got John Belizaire and Julia Pyper, who has broken all of our hearts in letting us know she's exiting stage left temporarily from the from the podcasting world. So we're going to have to give her some grief about that. But all right, we’ll let her ride off in the sunset just a little bit and we're gonna get right back and find her. All right, so a big thanks to my buddy Nico Johnson of SunCast media for co-hosting this and I just want to make sure we just do a round robin, introduce ourselves here. Tim, let me start with you.

Tim Montague

Hi, I'm Tim Montague. It's great to be back. And I host the weekly, biweekly podcast — well, I don't know, two shows a week. You can say that Clean Power Hour is bringing you the latest in wind, solar and energy storage news.

Mike Casey

Josh Porter.

Josh Porter

Hello, everybody. My name is Josh Porter with Solar Coaster in Maui, Hawaii. And we're a podcast, was a radio show in the past working on short films for cleantech, deploying the tech here in Maui and testing it out — running it through its paces. I’m looking forward to co-producing RE+ Hawaii let’s pack the room this year.

Mike Casey

All right. John Belizaire is here. Welcome. Welcome.

John Belizaire

Thank you so much for having me on the show. This is fantastic. I am John Belizaire, CEO of Soluna Computing. We host a podcast called Clean Integration where we talk to all sorts of people in cleantech, doing innovative things to help the grid integrate more renewable energy.

Mike Casey

All right, Mr. Johnson.

Nico Johnson

My name is Nico Johnson. I run a podcast called SunCast. Our Episode 551, I think was Mr. John Belizaire. And we love convening those in our clean energy tribe on the creative clean energy revolution. I'd like to say that we have created the definitive Career Guide for the clean energy revolution. And it's my honor to co-host and co-produce this with my good buddy, Mike Casey. So Mike, why don't you go ahead and introduce yourself?

Mike Casey

Well, we have one more afternoon to split it. Tim, would you let Miss Pyper know that I'm no longer speaking to her because she decided to leave the podcast so we had skipped her because she's not a podcaster anymore.

Mike Casey

Margie, would you let Pyper know she can introduce herself now. But you know, we're gonna get the hook out and pull her out. None of us cleared her leaving podcasting. So we're just gonna let the audience see you a little mad right now. Family Feud, but go ahead. So she who shall not be named, will she please name herself?

Julia Pyper

Well, thank you, Mike. I know we're not talking but I'm taking that as a compliment. In a way you're right. We did put a pause on the podcast I host and produce, Political Climate. We've been doing it for the past five years. Even longer when you count that we started as a Facebook Live video which we lovingly called the hostage video because me and my two co-hosts were jammed in a tiny screen looking like we were you know begging for our lives. It was just not good production, I will admit. But you know it's been a great five years and we've had an honor to be supported by the University of Southern California’s Schwarzenegger Institute. So I really want to thank them and I hope Mike Casey gets over his, you know, feelings about this and invites me back on this cleantech podcast or discussion, because I hope to still be a podcaster at heart and continue to work on clean energy issues in my day job at Good Leap, where we finance clean energy solutions. So great to be back with you all.

Mike Casey

All right. Wow. You are brutal today. Pyper, we come from a place of love. It's just like getting harassed like having like a bunch of big brothers. They’re just kind of like giving you harassment right? All right. All right.

Nico Johnson

If I could recommend one [Scaling Clean] episode, it would be John's episode.

Mike Casey

Two episodes because it was so good.

Nico Johnson

It was a two parter. That's right

Mike Casey

I host Scaling Clean the podcast for clean economy CEOs, investors, and the people who advise them. Alright, we're gonna start with our standard question here, which is the three big trends you’re tracking and why you tracking them. Josh Porter, we’ll start with you. But you are limited to 45 seconds my friend. Senator Porter, go.

Tim Montague

Well, it sure seems to me like offshore wind is really popping in the US. We saw 1.4 gigawatts of lease sales in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California. That's enough wind power to power 1.5 million homes. And the sad irony of this is we've had the tech for many, many years, we're just getting busy deploying it and starting the takeoff. We're down here and the clean energy transition, we're starting to go vertical. And now offshore is a good bellwether for that, you know, the Europeans have been into this for over a decade. And I like to say if you want to see the future go to Europe, because they're already there. You know, Norway now has 90% electrification of their transportation with new vehicle sales. The other trend, this is a negative trend for me, is a lot of talk about some technologies that I really don't think have legs. And I'm going to put these together, which is not right. But one is fusion. Okay, fusion was all over the news. Some work at MIT. And, you know, as Elon Musk likes to say that technology will get figured out, eventually the sun does it every day, for free. And we will figure it out. But it's not going to be cost competitive with solar wind and battery storage. So don’t get too excited about fusion, get anti-nuclear while we're at it, because SMRs are also in the news, small modular reactors. And my dear friend Jigar Shah is one of the one of the promoters of this technology. And I think it's a bunch of hooey. I think SMRs are old technology in new clothes. And that emperor has no clothes. I live in the most nuclearized state here in the state of Illinois. And we still haven't figured out what to do with the waste, and how to prevent these very complicated machines from breaking and causing harm to humans and the environment. So those are my three trends for Q4.

Mike Casey

Everybody watched Tim Montague's LinkedIn page for about 10,000 nuclear bros just blowing up his page with hate with hate comments. All right.

Tim Montague

You coached me Mike to be more controversial. So that's where I'm going. I'm going anti-nuke on you.

Mike Casey

You didn't need any help on that one, my friend. All right. She who shall not be named your three trends, and why are they big?

Julia Pyper

All right. So here's what I got. I think there'll be more leveraging of distributed energy resources in new and unique ways. We all just saw the decision in California on net energy metering, we're moving to a world where batteries are going to be critical. Unfortunately, there is not really battery supply available right now due to a number of macro reasons. But nonetheless, with higher on and off-peak rates, you're going to see people shift their load with not only solar but storage and then bringing in those EVs, maybe heat pumps, I think that's going to be a whole new trend in the US going forward. Not just from California, but other rate making decisions. In addition, I think domestic manufacturing of clean energy is a big trend, just since the inflation Reduction Act passed -- the big historic clean energy bill -- there's been $40 billion of nuclear energy investments announced and among those there are 12 solar manufacturing facilities, representing more than a 300% increase in solar module manufacturing capacity in the US. And those are just announcements in recent months since the IRA was signed into law. So I think we're gonna see a whole new era of US domestic manufacturing and solar and other areas. The third trend is sort of on the negative side, it's the trends around ESG investing. We've seen some states like Texas and Florida push back on the investment community's that have moved to have more ESG profiles, and that includes environmental products and services in addition to others. What's going to be interesting to see is where the investment community goes, is that pressure enough for them to back off? Do they look at their portfolio and say, actually the New York State Pension Fund is much bigger than anything Florida's investing in publicly and thus, it's still in our best interest to have an ESG aggressive portfolio that kind of aligns with some of those liberal states that are continuing to lean into ESG issues. So, I think that'll be an ongoing flare flashpoint in our sector writ large and in the political sphere as well.

Mike Casey

Mr. Belizaire? Here, three big trends, what makes them big?

John Belizaire

All right. Well, the biggest win in 2022, obviously, was the IRA, the Inflation Reduction Act $370 billion investment in clean energy development, EVS homes and more. I think that's huge. I think it's probably the biggest step we've seen towards clean energy in a very long time. And so I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out in 2023, I think that's going to deploy capital in a host of new innovations. When you combine it with the Chips Act, you know, you're gonna see a lot of research in clean energy innovation. And I'm just excited to see what that will turn into in terms of new products and services and ideas to help us bring more green electrons to the grid. The other is just, you know, certain provisions within the bill focused on growth of solar -- 130 gigawatts of solar, 30 gigawatts of wind constructed annually from now through 2035 is sort of what the what the bill is projecting. And so that could mean a tremendous amount of renewable energy power coming online. That's going to be interesting to see what that does with interconnection queues, curtailment, congestion, all of those types of challenges that the grid experiences when there's more of these generation facilities built.

The other trend is batchable computing, including Bitcoin mining and its integration with renewable projects. We're seeing an increasing integration of data centers that can be paused that are flexible, interconnecting to the grid, we saw a lot of that in 2022, and I think we're going to see more in the coming year. And that type of computing provides flexibility, provides flexible load to the grid, and it needs that right now. And more, given the momentum is driven by the grid. And we hosted a number of conversations on our podcast, with folks on the policy front utilities and the Bitcoin side, trying to understand what this all means. And then the last is AI and big data on the grid, and AI and data science. These were at the forefront of many of our conversations. This year, we were sort of looking at different technologies that could improve grid efficiency and resiliency by collecting information about what's happening on the grid, and then using that to enhance the grid. You know, this is something I think we can look forward to increasing in 2023 and beyond and getting the information we need to make the grid better and having that information be accurate and accessible is going to be a big driver. Have you guys on this pod session here tried Chat GPT?

Mike Casey

We just raised it here at a staff meeting like an hour before, it was like we gotta get on it.

Nico Johnson

So have you guys been reading my LinkedIn posts?

John Belizaire

Everything that I just said was written by Chat GPT. Just getting it would not actually do that. EIR is another one. You know, I've been like, producing art and you know, from these things and put them in my blog. This is all stuff that is showing you the advancements that AI has taken, and that's going to be a major play a major role in how the grid evolves going forward. 

Julia Pyper

And who our overlords will be, I'm guessing. Exactly

Nico Johnson

Man. John this is amazing.

Nico Johnson

Yeah, that's exactly right. I've been watching the AI and ML engines as well, John, and we've tested a few. In fact, it'd be interesting to know if anyone could pick out the posts that we've made on Twitter and LinkedIn that were 99% chatty putty. I bet you can't. It's remarkable. I have an interesting take on sort of the trends of the year like biggest things that I've noticed this year. And I kind of look at it through the lens of a podcaster where I'm unlike everyone else on the on the stage I sort of, Well, Josh, to a certain extent, I sort of do this full time. So most of my inbox is with, who am I having conversations with? Where are they coming from? And by and large, in a remarkable volume in terms of overall percentage of inbound traffic asking to be on the podcast? Do you know what the number one sector or vertical was of CEOs of new development platforms, oil and gas, not oil and gas through munity? Solar? So Jim’s, smiling, because it seems like everywhere you turn right now, everybody is developing community solar, I think that the story of the year for 2022 is not community solar.

But the story for 2023 just might be that every new developer has community solar as a focus or a sector or they've got a greenfield team on it. A big reason is because it's simply more profitable. It is, it has higher margins, it's a great vertical, it actually helps with diversifying the access to clean electricity. And I think it's an untold story, by and large in the media. And I believe that we're going to see a lot more focus on community solar, I'll be at the Community Solar summit in January in San Diego, sort of testing the waters there to see kind of what that what these vertical specific meetings can generate in terms of interest and volume and people there. But I was really surprised at the number of community solar developers that I saw, like I use the term coming out of the woodwork. But it's a lot of folks that we all know who are developing. And they've been developing the same five to 20 megawatt projects, they just now call them community solar projects, because that's a much more profitable vertical to sell into, right. The second story, and I gotta say, it actually surprised me. I interviewed Michelle Davis from Wood Mac, last week, when the new Solar Market Insights report came out. And I was floored at the growth of the residential sector in the US this year. I mean, nobody on this stage would know better than Julia the numbers on this, but California alone had a record quarter, which meant the US had a record quarter, but California alone installed 500 megawatts of solar in Q4 — Q3. Sorry, Q3, which is staggering. And it's yes, because a lot of folks are trying to get in ahead…. but also 1.5 gigawatts, installed for the quarter is a massive staggering, it's the only growth sector in the industry. Everything else is down CNI is down, community solar is down utility scale is down, all primarily because of the trade issues and pricing, shipping, but not residential, and that there's just an incredible amount of pent-up demand. And if you look at the earthquake yesterday in Northern California, 70,000 people offline, I mean, instantaneously, all the stories, what are they focused on, by the way, this person's mom who's on oxygen, this person's dad who needs electricity, to sustain their life. So I think that the story of the year for us right now is that despite all the obstacles that would have prevented growth, the residential sector is actually growing at record numbers. And imagine what it's going to do next year when installers are able to add on through partners like good leap heat pumps, they have financing, the electrification of the home, as you recently posted about Mike is going to go gangbusters. And I think that residential electrification is the container within which solar plus storage is just going to go gangbusters for the next three to five years. And I think that was a really, really big story for 2020.

I'll take a page out of Tim's book. It's not something that's growing or popular but it's something that’s grown to be very unpopular. I don't know if you guys saw Utility Dive I think it was about Avangrid backpedaling on their 1.2 megawatt Commonwealth offshore wind farm at 72 megawatt hours and PPA. They basically said it's no longer viable because of inflation and other economic disruptions. Eversource, Energy National Grid, and units will refuse to renegotiate the 1.2 gigawatt PPA. So I think that this is the first shot across the bow. I think that we're actually going to see more big PPAs getting reneged because they simply don't make economic sense in the current inflation environment and they're gonna to figure out what happens with those with those projects.

Mike Casey

Do we have just Porter by audio only?

Mike Casey

I'm going to be your quick three here. So one, I think you're seeing two real time losses of messaging control. One is that the solar industry, the residential installation part in California losing that net metering thing is the slowest car crash that we've seen in a decade like that. We just saw the wheels starting to spin and it went into a ditch. And it's, it's not good. And we could have avoided that. I think as an industry if we had been a little bit more proactive at calling nonsense on arguments against us. Number two, I think is watching ESG get rebranded as woke capitalism, the fundamental fact is ESG, when properly defined, produces better returns for companies. It's just a financial thing. So it's kind of interesting watching politicians from the right argue against economic sense, it gets kind of important. The third is the growth, the growth of pro fossil front groups that is worth paying attention to the New York Times at a big piece on the Texas policy, Texas Public Policy Foundation, read that those guys are coming forward.

Alright, lightning round. We talked on the stage at RE+ about half a dozen constraints facing cleantech growth. So, Lightning Round, two-part question. One, what is the percentage of the IRA's pollution reduction potential that will eventually be fulfilled, say within five years? What is that percentage and why

Tim Montague

I don't like this question. I, you know, I don't really have a crystal ball supply chain is an expression that I said more in 2022 than any other year in my life. And that's been painful. It's clear that we have the technology. We have the people power actually, if we would educate our youngsters that there's this thing called the trades, you can become an electrician and make $100,000 a year without going to college. And will the Republicans try to slow it down? Okay, yeah, maybe. But for the most part, this plays well across the aisle. Red states are states where clean energy is actually going gangbusters. And and so I'm, I'm quite optimistic about IRA, I would say 90%.

Mike Casey

All right, Nico Johnson percentage and why.

Nico Johnson

I will not say 90, I'll say party lines 50%, because that's about what will be agreed to be released based on how the house is controlled.

Mike Casey

Julia Pyper.

Julia Pyper

So I looked at this not based on pollution, but dollars spent, and I'm going to say 150%. And then the actual Congressional Budget Office Outlook for IRS spending is 370 million or billion. But Credit Suisse had its own report that actually paid out at $800 billion, because they think that the CBO undervalued how much the tax credits will be used over a 10-year period. So the supply chain issues we're looking at now in theory, those will get worked out as we truly recover from the pandemic. So if you're looking 2024, ’25, ‘26, I think we'd actually see that the projections for dollars deployed are actually even higher than we're considering today.

John Belizaire

I would say 60%. Yeah, three $370 billion, it's a lot of money. And you know, Julia's point or Rockcastle, formerly known as 800 billion, you know, multiply that by two, that's a that's 1.6 trillion if I did the math, right. So that's just a lot of money going into innovation. And so I think we're gonna see big necessary changes that advances renewables and overcome some of these, you know, the potential constraints, if you will, you know, and that's just sheer, you know, rocket fuel for innovation. So I think it'll be very successful because of the amount of firepower that's behind it

Tim Montague

I love to listen, comment about onshoring manufacturing. I mean, we already see how that's blowing up, right, with battery factories and solar panel factories across the US.

John Belizaire

Yeah, you're gonna see a lot more stuff coming back.

Julia Pyper

And let me just add that we talked about the politics of this tax credits, which make up the bulk of what the Inflation Reduction Act is, have been renewed and extended on a bipartisan basis for decades at this point. So I don't think that core fundamental element can be really challenged in the way that, you know, House Republicans can have investigations now, they can bring down the heads of the EPA and the Department of Energy to look at specific agency spending, like maybe the loan programs office, but the bulk of the spending and dollars is actually in tax credits. And that's much harder for anyone to tack on a political basis. And that's why I'm kind of bullish on I think over a decade period, we could see a lot of the benefits actually be realized

John Belizaire

Somebody will write some software, maybe I'll do it in my spare time to, you know, streamline the interconnection process, because that's going to be a big problem. You know, that's true constraint. But I think when you really pour into the operational aspects of that, it's, it's just people, you know, it's people and processes that are arcane and weren't prepared for this level of investment. So if technology can help with that, I think that'll be an innovation to increase the footprint.

Mike Casey

All right, next question. BNSF recently said, to meet police reduction targets, we have to change our current investment ratio. Right now it's 90 cents invested for in clean energy for every $1 invested in fossil fuels. They say it's got to go to a four to one ratio, based on your conversations, and industry insider knowledge, where would you suggest that fourfold investment be directed? So if it's there, where should it go? Is there a technology or vertical play that would give the most leverage to reaching these goals?

Nico Johnson

You know, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that we have a lot of existing infrastructure that is not being utilized properly. In the energy transition, I'll point to someone that Mike introduced me to, a guy named Michael Ocean, there's a company called Breeze Incorporated that is looking at all of the old oil and gas pipelines, right? Everything from 18 inches up, that is underutilized and will increasingly be so as we move away from natural gas. And as we move away from using these pipelines, a lot of folks are thinking about how to use it for things like hydrogen, but frankly, retrofitting existing pipelines for hydrogen is costly and problematic. And there are simple novel technologies, not so simple, but novel technologies that could accomplish scale that actually give us an incredible amount of capacity to use existing infrastructure. And I think that, as an industry, we are focused on like, let's go build solar and wind plants. John, John is obviously looking at how do we complement that? And I think one way to complement it as well, that is not getting enough investment is what about the existing infrastructure that can be retrofitted in some way to be utilized for renewable as a renewable asset or in some way renewable?

Mike Casey

It’s an interesting point, because I'll tell you, we were just talking about in a staff meeting here a couple of days ago, if we're going to see the clean energy transition happen at a pace that staves off the worst of global climate destruction, we're going to have to have sinners, leave the ascending lifestyle, if you will, and move into, you know, being part of the solution going from part of the problem part of the solution. And the art and the science here is going to be figuring out how sincere they are, at any given time. You know, Exxon Mobil, you pretty much know that their commitment to sustainability stops at the greenwashing ad fee.

I think when you go to like a Shell, you know, and there's a lot of utilities that are like buying massive amounts of clean energy, and they were, you know, 15 years ago, they're buying massive amounts of coal. So I think you're seeing real change in economics that are attracting even some of the previously implacable folks. That company you talked about Breeze and disclosure I'm on the on the board of advisors. These guys want to use idle oil and gas pipelines as wires, basically, because you'd have to build an end transmission. Why are you going to ship compressed air through you compress the earth renewable energy, you store it for 40 days ship it, it's all there. I think one of the cool things about working in clean energy is that you rub elbows with these people who have these brilliant solutions -- like see this thing hiding over here, we can repurpose it for x. It's really quite interesting.

Tim Montague

Literally put wires in those pipes there's a lot of assets underground that will be stranded. What we need to do is, is create lots of high voltage DC which works well underground. Check out Solar Power Hour episode 99 with Jay Caspari. Apparently high voltage AC doesn't work so well underground for some obtuse physical reason, which is above my paygrade, but HVDC if you go to China, you see that they're building a massive HVDC grid. We're not doing that here in the US, we have some little experiments going on the west coast, but it's much more efficient, like 40% more efficient.

Julia Pyper

Well, I can actually maybe get you back on what Nico was saying, because I was gonna say something similar. There's actually a program enabled by the Inflation Reduction Act, called the section 1706 program for the Department of Energy, that gives the Loan Programs Office $5 billion in actual dollar amount, but $250 billion in authority to lend out to utilities and other market players to revitalize old fossil fuel polluting infrastructure, and use those facilities and sites to deploy cleaner energy solutions. And that could be reforming a fossil fuel plant to decarbonize or a whole new type of clean energy project. But it's actually $250 billion from the government now to facilitate that, and that's not necessarily for fossil fuel companies, although maybe there'll be participants but the Edison Electric Institute and utilities themselves were particularly excited about this, because it can be hard to get capital to make those transitions. And this will be good for ratepayers because they won't have to pay off that existing asset for decades to come as it just laying languishes over time, they can upgrade it, revitalize it pay off that initial debt faster. So that's a really exciting program, I think. And we could see more private capital step in as the public capital comes in. I want to stir the pot quickly, though, and say, Tim, you will love this. But nuclear power has been one of the largest recipients of investor funding in the last five years, it's outpaced all venture capital funding over the last five years for the nuclear power sector, including the fast growing clean tech sector. So whether or not that materializes into a real industry and with you, there's we got to poke and prod that a little bit.

Tim Montague

There's gonna be a lot of blood on that floor.

Julia Pyper

Well, the government is also supporting this with demonstration projects, their funding, and you can actually see some communities being really excited about the revitalization opportunity that these small modular reactors could bring to their towns.

Tim Montague

Can they build those SMRs?

Nico Johnson

I hope they don't. Yeah, hope they don't become as disenfranchised as my compatriots in South Carolina who are burdening a bearing of $13 billion tax burden. Exactly right.

Julia Pyper

Different technology I will say…

Tim Montague

That's the thing, they have tricked you into thinking it is different and it is not.

John Belizaire

You have massive connection keys, as I talked about 930 gigawatts. 42 gigawatt, 400, 420 gigawatts of storage, waiting to connect. So that's just a recipe for massive amounts of wasted energy. And so solutions to that, obviously, include things that I'll be biased to present, which is flexible data centers. But there are other things like AI and software being used to use predictive methods, understand where that congestion will occur, and then work with existing loads in a software fashion to turn them into, you know, the portable assets, I think we're gonna see a lot more of that science and technology incorporated into the intelligence of the grid. And I think the other is just workforce development. I think we need a lot more people in the clean energy industry a lot more, and finding a way to scale that, you know, creating mechanisms for people to receive advanced training, start, you know, new apprentices, apprenticeship programs for people to get involved in, in the clean tech space I think will be exciting, and also drawing in people from outside the industry. It's become it harder for me to say that I'm not a clean tech person anymore and bringing them into the industry to help out and bring lateral thinking to the space. So work force development, I think is the next key vertical play.

Mike Casey

And I'll tell you another one that's going to be a little bit unusual here. I'll tell you, it's biochar. Probably nobody's heard of this. Or maybe you might have heard of this. This is, as a former client of mine explained, this is technology invented by Brazilian housewives 1000 years ago. Native people in the Amazonian Basin figured out a way to burn their waste while buried so in a low-oxygen environment. It makes super carbon waste soil. And if you think about the massive dead zones, we have, it's largely agricultural waste being washed off poorly, you know, excessively tilled surfaces into waterways, washing out to the mouths of rivers into the ocean, creating dead zones. So you got, you know, here where I live, there's a huge poultry industry in the Delmarva Peninsula, tons of waste eastern North Carolina, huge CAFOs with you know, basically you have you have the equivalent of Mexico City in eastern North Carolina, with nowhere for the waist to go because you have hogs that that equate to that population of humans, if we took that figured out how to use agricultural waste, burn it in a way that produced highly usable soil. You would soak up amazing amounts of carbon and it's kind of like the dumb simple thing right in front of us they could find and I think it would, it would produce a massive benefits. The New York Times reported as I noted, the Texas Public Policy Foundation is carrying water for the fossil fuel lobby. Ray Locker at the Checks and Balances Project has blogged and Kevin Martin's work to close the Midwest to renewables. Michael Thomas doing some very exciting reporting on Twitter.

Tim Montague

A real Achille’s heel for the clean energy transition that the fossil companies fully are leveraging out the wazoo. They have cast a lot of shade on the Clean Energy Transition, saying that, you know, wind farms cause cancer, and just crazy nutjob ideas like that. Right? And, and they've put this fear in America that somehow we're stepping into this very uncertain, scary future by making the clean energy transition, which is the complete opposite. I just want to point out, you know that we could do it. Saul Griffith has pointed this out, right? And check out his book, Electrify, awesome book. Super smart dude. Within 15 years, we could fully make the clean energy transition, create to 25 million jobs, hey, that's 10% of our workforce, and save consumers $1,000 a year. And not only talk about a safer, healthier future for humanity. So yes, we need to be very, very, very concerned, especially once you put this AI in their hands, which makes them the savviest communicators on Earth. It's a very uncertain future.

John Belizaire

Yeah, I'd say, you know, climate deniers like John Dross, you know, he's throws, I believe, a threat. I think the work that he's been doing has a real impact on innovation and progress. And I think we saw that with his influence on blocking some of the climate policy in North Carolina and beyond. So it'd be a mistake to just brush them off, really at a pay attention to those folks. They do have influence. But ultimately, I think they're already you know, I think over the last two years, we've seen a tremendous shift in people waking up potential of renewable energy. I think the world is really moving in the opposite direction of the John Dross says, you know, and I think it's moving us all towards renewable energy. I like to say we're all sitting in the back of a fast-moving Tesla and I think the driver might be an AI none of us are driving and renewable energy is you know, domination is inevitable. If we can only solve the wasted energy problem. 

Julia Pyper

Yeah, I'll just chime in as well. I think we're gonna have to get used to building things in America. Again, I feel like it's a common or framed people want to revitalize communities. But it's going to take a change of perspective. And I actually think this is not a right thing or a left thing. I see it across the board. There are actual concerns about protecting, for instance, indigenous land about protecting species, we have some real questions and work to do. Frankly, I think it's all solvable. But we got to get a broad buy in that we need to build things again in America. And let's not pretend that's going to be easy on any side of the aisle or any community, actually, it's a very local issue. And so the industry now has to act like a sophisticated industry and build those relationships with local leaders make sure we're getting adequate stakeholder input. That's the only way to get people to be excited about a project is to do that legwork and not think we can kind of come over the top and just put down a bunch of poles and wires and solar panels and wind turbines. So I hope the industry will do that stakeholder works. I think that's the only effective way to kind of combat some of the misinformation is to actually build a genuine grassroots movement that embraces the potential industry has to offer.

Mike Casey

Alright, there's a new chairman decision from the US. Anyone interviewed guests? Who brought some interesting views on this? And if so, what were your takeaways? 

Nico Johnson

Yeah, I wouldn't say I've interviewed a guest, specifically on the show. But I've had lots of conversations having come from formerly working at Trina 10, now almost 10 years ago, but I won't quote who specifically said it. But I'll read the message that I was given on WhatsApp, which is it will have minimal impact. The reason for the constrained supply is the huge backlog form from Longi, Jinko. And Trina, people like to point to the ad CVD is the culprit though. The UF LPA and COVID. FME are the real reason. So it's that's someone who runs a major global module manufacturer, just I think that nobody is going to say that as a guest on a podcast, specifically as a named guest. But there doesn't seem to be a slowdown, if anything, it's going to help accelerate the industry now because it's there's clarity around it, and people don't have uncertainty. And there are easy ways around it.

Julia Pyper

Oh, gosh, I'm looking forward to getting together with all the folks who worked on this over the year, I think we're going to have a a happy hour in January to at least not celebrate, but kind of pour out our sorrows here. But look, so California net metering, as people may know, we are shifting pretty rapidly as of next April to a net billing structure, which means net metering is effectively gone in California. And the export credit that customers received for their excess solar power will decline substantially from around 30 cents to around six or seven cents starting next April. So that's going to be, it’s a transition. But as I said at the top of the show, I think this does start it'll be painful couple years but starts to prompt new questions around New Business Models, how can we self-consumed more as individual or storage customers using power when it's beneficial to the grid helping avoid those blackouts in California that are really dangerous and deadly.  

So I think it'll be a new charge for the distributed energy sector figure out how they can play in this environment. The benefits is that we did not have a $60 per month flat fee added to two solar customers that would have truly just, I think had a decimating effect on the largest solar industry in the country in the world. And number one in them to customers have been protected. So I don't want to be all doom and gloom. It was a big busy year, a lot of stakeholders weighed in, including Governor Newsom, who I think really helped the industry at the end of the day, get to a better conclusion here. It's not everything we wanted. But I think the best companies now figure out how to adapt to this new environment. So that's kind of where I'll leave that I could do a whole other podcast on the ins and outs. But I think the industry rallied in a big way. And we have work to do to build more relationships with politicians in the state show the value of our industry, I think that was really missing the refrain that this industry is bad, I think has resonated among decision makers, even though I don't see it resonating among the population in California, people are very supportive of it. But in the political community, we have to show our value, I think a little bit more. So I hope we can continue to work on that in the months and years ahead.

Mike Casey

As I think, three days before the decision came down. I saw in my news feed us trends in who's buying solar for their roof. And the average household income was coming down a lot. So more low-income people were buying solar, surely through No Money Down solar leasing. But the point is, the market is accommodating itself to take in more customers. And if he's elected officials that left things alone, it would have gone to a very positive place in it. But it also would undercut the argument utilities wanted to make in order to stop rooftop solar.

Julia Pyper

I will also add also loans as good liberal loan provider, and our numbers are even better than that Berkeley National Lab report, it's about a year-old data by the time they release it, these 2029 one number, so as of today, in our portfolio, we're 15% even higher, so it's more like 55 0% of our customers make less than $100,000, or even 80% of area median income. So massive shifts to democratizing of solar. And I do hope that we can continue that because this change of policy will make that harder until the industry is able to adapt. And I think that's going to be a challenge for the next year and a half or two years.

Tim Montague

And this is going to drive massive adoption of home batteries. The best way to fight back against them three is to install a battery with your solar, the solar, the battery collects the extra energy from the solar during the middle of a day. And then you leverage that in the evening. And you don't worry about net metering so much. And it's still pencils. And it's good for consumers, and it's good for the environment. So yeah, number three is a bummer for solar. I'm not going to deny it. Just like the tariffs are a bit of a bummer. The tariffs aren't as bad. John Weaver and I, my co-host, did talk about the tariffs on the on the weekly news show. So check that out. Cleanpowerhour.com.

Mike Casey

I'll leave you leave this topic with this thought here. You know, there's actually a name for the business practice where you demand people pay you to stop using their product. It's often seen in movies based in John's hometown, right with the saying and he agreed that we determined a loan sharking just I think that's, you know, protection by it, you're not going to use my protective services. So pay me something bad happens here. stuff. All right. Given the transition to a Republican House, a lack of a red wave. What are your thoughts about how clean energy did in November elections? And do you have a clean energy hero you think deserves some credit for these electoral outcomes? anybody anywhere think they is a clean energy hero emerging out of the elections?

Julia Pyper

Yes, the Environmental Voter Project, which is run by Nathaniel Stinnett, they do a great job of mobilizing environmental voters not with any particular agenda for which politician to support but just getting them to show up at the polls is a big untapped, energized group of voters. But sometimes just our you know, don't show up and don't get out the vote. So they do a great job of mobilizing them. And Caroline spears that climate cabinet, they do a great job of coming up with climate platforms for local politicians state level and even I think federal to have helping them get up to speed on climate issues so that those leaders integrate climate clean energy into their policies and are educated if and when they get elected. So I think those are some real winners. I'm not sure that climate clean energy played out this election and the way we might have thought it we just saw the largest clean energy bill passed in US history. And yet polling shows the vast majority of voters never saw an Inflation Reduction Act ad for or against. Republicans didn't really campaign against it. Democrats didn't really campaign on it, they focus more on the drug saving things than on the clean energy element…we've progressed beyond you know, pitting folks together on clean energy, it's just not a winning issue one way or the other, but time will tell.

John Belizaire

Maybe both sides have just agreed to disagree and just look at it as more of an economic driver for the for the country. Right. I think, you know, to some extent, I was I was kind of worried about the outcome because I felt we might get a reversal on all of this. But instead I think, from my we, you know, the headlines really describe this to some extent around as a green wave, you know, people were embracing of this, of this potential and its potential to drive the creation of jobs and innovation. I know in my home state in New York, we passed a $4 billion, give or take clean water clean air and Green Jobs Act. It was driven by the former governor and the new governor wholeheartedly embraces it and you know, the whole focus is, is to drive the state to be more green and don't think we're gonna do that. Around the country, there were some sort of state level re elections that were in the face event, any renewable efforts, I think, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, a lot of fighting there on the ground. So there's no one person to name but I think, as a country, you know, I think I'm proud to say that we finally passed a national bill that's going to set the country up for a major transformation in our energy policy, and make us more resilient and more sustainable.

Mike Casey

And because I can't let him argue, get all the haters on LinkedIn, I'm gonna say, I think the clean energy hero is Joe Biden. I gotta say, like the guys, just like you can. Amen people, the people can say what they want you about, about how clearly he speaks his age, but the guy is just, he's just keeps on keeping on. And like he's got, I think he's, I think he's played Putin like a fiddle. I think he's, I think he's done in a way that's like really accelerated clean energy trends around the globe, intentionally or not. And I think he, you know, he, I don't know that he's the most adroit politician I've ever seen. But you, you got to look at what he did, and how he what he was pulled off on there is tenure. And to me, I think it's I think Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post is right, I think he's gonna be a very significant precedent. So big deal.

John Belizaire

That was just the tip. He's got he's almost 100. We should put them on some, you know, give him some clips on some peloton, some doing some push ups or something, you know, just to just to make us think twice about whether he's really that'll run clean. I don't know if John will take the job at the White House cons.

Mike Casey

Yeah, that's it. All right. We are four minutes left here. So I want to try a new feature here darts and laurels. You dark darts do laurels anybody like has said something done something you think deserves particular shout out or someone doing something that needs a little bit of a compassionate kick in the pants?

Nico Johnson

I'll jump I'll jump in real quick on behalf of Josh Porter, everybody and Solar Coaster who is going through a storm right now in Hawaii and couldn't stay connected. He WhatsApped to me his answer to this question. So Josh says Europeans in general, are the unforced error of linking the price of electricity to the price of natural gas. And he referenced in all of his other answers that he also what's up to me in the longest WhatsApp message I've ever received the reference to a Princeton Decarb study that I'll ask him to post on LinkedIn later, Brent Alder for and Jesse Jenkins, postdoc on the Decarb study of PJM grid and the IRA impact over their time periods. So I'll ask Josh to go and post that up. I don't particularly have a question and answer to this question. So I thought I would just bring Josh's voice. 

Tim Montague

I'll throw a dart and laurel at Elon Musk. He did drive the electrification of transportation in this country with making Tesla a substantive manufacturer of EVs. You know, Rivian in my backyard here in central Illinois is really struggling to scale manufacturing of their lovely SUV and pickup truck, which I think are really beautiful, but they're expensive, and they're only trickling off that factory floor. You know, 80% something like that of new EV sales in the US are Tesla's and it's no accident. Meanwhile, he has gone to crazy town and I think he should get off of Twitter and stop running Twitter and focus on what's important like going to Mars and electrifying transportation.

Nico Johnson

Thankfully, he's agreed to do that. And also, if you've driven any other electric not Tesla lately, you know that Tesla is still eons ahead of every other electric.

Tim Montague

Hyundai seems to be one to one to watch network by networks. They're climbing, they're climbing well, but they're climbing in the ranks. And that's terms of curb appeal and price point.  

Nico Johnson

You're right, I'm referring specifically to the pain of every non-Tesla electric car owner when it comes to every charging on any trip longer than 30 days.

Tim Montague

Yep. Yeah, just follow John Weaver. He'll tell the truth about that.

John Belizaire

A lot of entrepreneurs in our show, I think, deserve a shout out to laurel. You know, anyone who's up for the challenge ahead of helping us accelerate getting renewables to become a global superpower need a standing ovation. Ben Sorkin he's, he founded a company called Flux Marine, and they're building electric motors for you know, the marine world. So thank you Tesla for boats. We spoke to Sean Patrick who founded PingThings. It's a company that's deploying sensors to the grid to increase the accuracy and efficiency of data collection and just fighting, fighting the fight using more data and making it more accessible. We love talking to Catherine McLean, who founded Dylan Green, it's here is fantastic, is great agency on a mission to just bring more diverse intersexual talent to the clean tech space, we need a lot more diversity in order to drive more innovation in the space. I had heard of Lee Taylor, I've seen him speak many times. He's the CEO 33 surety for risk management firm that supported over 7000 megawatts of renewable energy generation capacity and counts many of the world's largest and probably most sophisticated companies, as its clients and partners, just really novel solutions there. He's also come up with this new concept of you know, local marginal pricing. So you can see local marginal emissions. So you can see sort of in your location, what's the mix of, you know, electrons in that location, just so many more entrepreneurs that I love to think that those are the ones that were great additions to our show, and really enjoyed talking to you.

Mike Casey

All right, Miss Pyper, you get two extra this episode with maybe last thought you got a dart and laurels. You want to hand out?

Julia Pyper

Yeah, hopefully my computer keeps up here. It's ready for holiday vacations. So let's see, I actually have one for Governor Newsom. I know sticking with the California theme, we talked about NEM 3.0, and how that'll be a challenge. So I think that's a blow to our industry. But we also have to recognize that he and his team have done an incredible amount for the state, they just approved $54 billion and climate and clean energy spending from the California surplus over the last two years that the state's going to have all new electric vehicles required starting in 2035 is a billion dollars for clean buildings. They've become even more aggressive with some other intermediate climate goals in the state $20 million for streamlining residential solar permitting, which is passed by the legislature and signed by Newsom.

So it's both my dart and my laurel to say, I think we could do more on distributed energy in the state, but also really want to say I'm proud to live there. And I think there's a lot of exciting opportunity and shout out to the staff at the California Public Utilities Commission. We may not like as an industry, all of the decisions that come out, but I do know that that staff works really hard, including the governor staff, people like Lauren Sanchez, on his team who lead the climate portfolio. So I think as an industry, we got to remember like we have wins and losses on the policy front, but the public servants I think in the state do work really hard. So I would like to leave with a note of you know, appreciation on that front, even though we didn't get everything we wanted on them.

Mike Casey

All right. Well, my laurel was gonna go to Julia Pyper for doing awesome podcasting for several years. Seriously, your voice will be missed. And we want you to come back.

Nico Johnson

Truly, truly, truly the post this week on LinkedIn that made me feel the most melancholy.

 Julia Pyper

Um, well, I hope folks check out Political Climate, we do have a great evergreen, you know, a library of content. And I hope you know, anyone needs that content for any university courses or anything that's the biggest win is when people spend their time with us and hopefully get careers in this sector as a result, or what have you. So I really appreciate you guys, you know, being supportive on it and letting me join you here and maybe even again in future.

Mike Casey

This is a wrap on the seventh quarterly Cleantech Podcasters Roundtable. We are delighted that you tuned in and listened. Thank you to all of our panelists. You guys are great. This is like the highlight of my quarter do this. I have so much fun in these things. John, we’re glad you joined us and we may be knocking on your door you pass the test I got gotten dressed them up a little bit, you know. Okay, but like having back. Okay, so well.

Tim Montague

Great addition. And let's, let's get some choice ranked voting going on on these questions. Okay, I'm not sure who wrote those questions. We need some better questions.

Nico Johnson

Hilarious. I want to also take a moment to take a moment to thank Mike and his team for CO producing and putting this together for coming up with the questions for wrangling all of the folks throughout the year who join us. And also to the folks that are watching online right now Chris Caldwell, and Michelle Hirens them among a few others, Rob Latimer, who were commenting on LinkedIn and YouTube. Thank you for tuning in. When we do these live, it's awesome to get real time feedback. And again, thanks, Mike for doing this for and with us.

Mike Casey

Why? Great. All right, y'all. Hey, thank you so much, everybody. You take care and this one is a wrap up. 

Nico Johnson

Merry Christmas.

 

 

Topics: Quarterly Cleantech Podcasters/Editors Roundtable