53 episodes

Investor Shayle Kann is asking big questions about how to decarbonize the planet: How cheap can clean energy get? Will artificial intelligence speed up climate solutions? Where is the smart money going into climate technologies? Every week on Catalyst, Shayle explains the world of "climate tech" with prominent experts, investors, researchers, and executives. The show is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.

Catalyst with Shayle Kann Post Script Media

    • Technology
    • 5.0 • 148 Ratings

Investor Shayle Kann is asking big questions about how to decarbonize the planet: How cheap can clean energy get? Will artificial intelligence speed up climate solutions? Where is the smart money going into climate technologies? Every week on Catalyst, Shayle explains the world of "climate tech" with prominent experts, investors, researchers, and executives. The show is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.

    Fixing cement’s carbon problem

    Fixing cement’s carbon problem

    We want your feedback! Fill out our listener survey for a chance to win a $100 Patagonia gift card.
    Join us on November 30 for a live, virtual episode of Climavores. Come ask a question about food, nutrition, and eating for the climate.
    Concrete is an incredible material. It’s essentially pourable rock, and we use it in almost every part of the built world. We also consume more of it than any other man-made material in the world—about three tons per person annually.
    And the secret ingredient in all this concrete? Cement. Think of it as the glue that binds the crushed rocks in concrete together. 
    But here’s the problem. Making cement emits lots of carbon. The cement industry alone produces 8% of global emissions. 
    Why? First, the process happens at 1500 degrees Celsius, a temperature so hot that companies often burn coal to reach it. Second, the chemical reaction involved in creating cement releases carbon dioxide.  
    So what are the solutions? 
    In this episode, Shayle talks to Leah Ellis, co-founder and CEO of Sublime Systems, a startup that has developed a novel way to produce cement at room temperature without releasing carbon dioxide. Shayle’s venture capital firm Energy Impact Partners is an investor in Sublime.
    Shayle and Leah discuss:

    The important properties of cement and why we use so much of it

    The chemistry of cement and why it releases carbon dioxide

    Alternative chemistries to Portland cement, the most common and useful formulation

    Things you can add to the mix, called supplementary cementitious materials, to offset some of the Portland cement required (like fly ash from coal-fired power plants)

    Adopting performance-based standards that allow more flexibility in the materials used in cement

    Replacing coal with electrification and alternative fuels in cement kilns 

    Post-combustion carbon capture for cement kilns


    CarbonCure’s technique for injecting carbon dioxide into concrete to increase strength and reduce the amount of cement required

    Sublime System’s electrochemical technique for manufacturing cement without carbon emissions


    Recommended Resources:


    The New York Times: Making the Concrete and Steel We Need Doesn’t Have to Bake the Planet


    Canary Media: Major construction firms team up to get the carbon out of concrete


    Bloomberg: Breakthroughs Are Helping Even Cement and Steel Go Electric


    E&E News: Congress wagered on ‘low-carbon’ concrete. Will it pay off?


    Canary Media: Cement is terrible for the climate. California just passed a law to fix that


    Catalyst is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.
    Catalyst is supported by Scale Microgrid Solutions, your comprehensive source for all distributed energy financing. Distributed generation can be complex. Scale makes financing it easy. Visit scalecapitalsolutions.com to learn more.
    Catalyst is supported by CohnReznick Capital, a trusted source for renewable energy investment banking servicing the US sustainability sector. Visit cohnreznickcapital.com to learn more.

    • 45 min
    Unleashing the magic of heat pumps

    Unleashing the magic of heat pumps

    What’s not to love about heat pumps? Well… a few things, actually. 
    Don’t take this the wrong way: Heat pumps are magic. They heat. They cool. They’re way more efficient than gas boilers. Switching to one can save a household hundreds of dollars in energy bills and lots of carbon emissions. It's why governments are incentivizing and requiring them.
    But heat pump adoption has slowed nationally. It’s even declined in colder regions. What‘s holding it back?
    In this episode, Shayle talks to his colleague Andy Lubershane, managing director for research and innovation at Energy Impact Partners, a climatetech venture capital firm. 
    Andy and Shayle talk about the state of heat pump technology and what we need to fix to speed up adoption. They cover topics like:

    The relatively high upfront costs and messy customer journey to installation

    What mass adoption would do to peak demand on the grid in cold climates 

    How heat pumps dramatically ramp up electrical load in a typical home and on the grid

    Heat pumps powered by natural gas or hydrogen

    Plus, why Andy would be a great early adopter for any company that wants to pitch Shayle on solving these problems.

    Recommended Resources:

    US Department of Energy: Residential Cold Climate Heat Pump Challenge


    Canary Media: Heat pumps now required for new homes in Washington state


    Canary Media: One weird trick to make heat pumps boom


    Canary Media: Will tough standards for heat pump tax credits hurt adoption?


    Canary Media: Window heat pumps will help electrify New York City’s apartments


    Catalyst is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.
    Catalyst is supported by Scale Microgrid Solutions, your comprehensive source for all distributed energy financing. Distributed generation can be complex. Scale makes financing it easy. Visit scalecapitalsolutions.com to learn more.
    Catalyst is supported by CohnReznick, a trusted partner for navigating the complex and evolving financial, tax and regulatory landscape of the renewable sector. Visit cohnreznick.com to learn more.

    • 42 min
    Getting more energy on the wires

    Getting more energy on the wires

    Want to build a power plant in the U.S.? Here are three things to know. 

    First, connecting a wind farm, utility-scale battery, or other big source of power to the grid means getting in line. A typical project’s wait time has increased from around two years in 2005 to four years in 2020, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. 

    Second, the interconnection queue is a crowded place. In 2020 there were 1.44 terawatts of projects in the queue. That’s more than the U.S.’s current fleet of generation.

    Third, dropouts are the norm. Only 25% of projects make it to completion. Projects withdraw from the queue for lots of reasons, but wait times are a big factor. During long waits, negotiations can fall apart and rights can expire, reports Emma Penrod of Utility Dive.

    Why the bottleneck and long queues? Lack of transmission is the single biggest factor. We need way more of it to bring power from rural areas with rich wind and solar potential to power-hungry population centers. But NIMBYism and a complex permitting process have slowed the construction of new transmission to a glacial pace. So while congress debates permitting reform, what technologies could help us get more energy on the wires?

    In this episode, guest host Lara Pierpoint talks to Liza Reed, electricity transmission Research manager for climate policy at the Niskanen Center, a think tank in Washington D.C. She’s also a grid fellow at Prime Movers Lab.

    Lara and Liza explore ways to expand transmission capacity:


    Replacing steel-reinforced lines with composite-core lines to carry more energy, known in the industry as “reconductoring”

    High-voltage direct current lines capable of sending lots of power long distances (a common solution in China but rare in the U.S.) 

    Running transmission lines underground, known as “undergrounding”

    Building lines along existing rights of way, such as highways

    High temperature superconductors, which involve cooling wires down to carry more power

    Line monitoring technology that analyzes local weather, wind and other factors to detect which lines are cooler than expected, allowing grid operators to send extra power through them

    Improving grid studies that determine what kinds of upgrades are needed for interconnection 

    Federal permitting reform, which might allow more new transmission to be built


    Resources:


    Utility Dive: Why the energy transition broke the U.S. interconnection system


    Volts Podcast: Transmission month: everything in one place


    Canary Media: Manchin’s permitting-reform bill splits Dems, pro-renewables groups


    Canary Media: New software can find more room for clean energy on transmission grids


    Canary Media: FERC has a new plan to connect clean energy to the grid more quickly


    Catalyst is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.
    Catalyst is supported by Antenna Group. For 25 years, Antenna has partnered with leading clean-economy innovators to build their brands and accelerate business growth. If you're a startup, investor, enterprise, or innovation ecosystem that's creating positive change, Antenna is ready to power your impact. Visit antennagroup.com to learn more.
    Solar Power International and Energy Storage International are returning in-person this year as part of RE+. Come join everyone in Anaheim for the largest, B2B clean energy event in North America. Catalyst listeners can receive 15% off a full conference, non-member pass using promo code CANARY15. Register here.

    • 59 min
    Climatetech for developing economies

    Climatetech for developing economies

    Utilities in developing countries are juggling a complex set of problems: How to extend electricity to those who don’t have it; how to deploy large-scale power generation to power economic growth; and how to pursue these goals while decarbonizing. 
    In this episode, guest host Lara Pierpoint talks to Kate Steel, CEO of Nithio, a finance company focused on off-grid clean energy in Africa. Kate and Lara discuss the options for separating economic growth from fossil fuels. And she argues that we have the technology to develop low-carbon electrified economies in developing economies; we just need to deploy it.
    Lara and Kate weigh in on: 

    The tension between expanding access to low-cost power and attracting investment in large-scale baseload generation

    Why off-grid solar is often more economically viable than diesel generators for rural electrification

    How canceled power purchase agreements have stymied the development of renewables and how to solve these financing challenges 

    “Reverse” tech transfer from developing countries to developed ones, such as hyper-efficient appliances 

    Options for off-grid power, such as lanterns, microgrids, microhydro, biogas and liquefied petroleum gas canisters.

    How transportation may leapfrog fossil fuels in developing countries with electric motorbikes, buses and cars

    Recommended Resources:


    Canary Media: COP26 players pledge funding to shut down coal plants


    Bloomberg: A New Era of Climate Disasters Revives Calls for Climate Reparations


    Canary Media: Expanding solar access in Africa through artificial intelligence


    Columbia University’s Center on Sustainable Investment: Roadmap to Zero-Carbon Electrification of Africa

    
    Catalyst is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.
    Catalyst is supported by Scale Microgrid Solutions, your comprehensive source for all distributed energy financing. Distributed generation can be complex. Scale makes financing it easy. Visit scalecapitalsolutions.com to learn more.
    Catalyst is supported by CohnReznick, a trusted partner for navigating the complex and evolving financial, tax and regulatory landscape of the renewable sector. Visit cohnreznick.com to learn more.

    • 49 min
    How the US climate bill will finance the energy transition [partner content]

    How the US climate bill will finance the energy transition [partner content]

    In this episode, produced in partnership with CohnReznick, we explore the market implications of the Inflation Reduction Act.
    The Inflation Reduction Act is an incredibly important win for climate. It puts the U.S. back on the global stage as a serious climate negotiator. It puts the country within reach of a net-zero grid. And it will put hundreds of billions of dollars toward renewables, storage, carbon-capture, and hydrogen.
    In reality, it’s a very practical – and very complicated – tax bill. We support clean energy in America through the tax code, and this legislation builds on that framework in a big way.
    This episode was produced in partnership with CohnReznick and CohnReznick Capital. 
    CohnReznick’s Renewable Energy Industry Practice can help your business move forward by proactively addressing even your most complicated challenges and needs. 
    And CohnReznick Capital’s industry-leading investment banking team can help your company break through the dynamic and evolving sustainability sector by simplifying project finance, M&A, capital raising, and restructuring.

    • 16 min
    What’s holding up hydrogen in Europe?

    What’s holding up hydrogen in Europe?

    Europe’s hydrogen economy is so close to becoming a reality. Billions in public and private dollars are lining up to invest in a wave of newly planned hydrogen facilities. EU policymakers are finalizing new regulations and subsidies. And the region’s energy crisis–sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine–has accelerated the need for alternative energy sources like hydrogen.

    But an unexpected twist: The U.S. passed the Inflation Reduction Act, with subsidies for hydrogen production and far looser rules than those under consideration in Europe. Could Europe lose its hydrogen competitiveness?

    In this episode, Shayle talks to Gniewomir Flis, an independent hydrogen consultant. Previously he researched hydrogen at Agora Energiewende, a decarbonization think tank, and Energy Revolution Venture, a decarbonization venture capital firm.

    Gniewomir explains that some in Europe worry the U.S. might become a more attractive place to invest in hydrogen if the EU’s rules are too strict. This concern throws more complexity into an already difficult policy-making process. It’s causing EU policymakers to fight over proposed rules and investors to delay final decisions to greenlight European projects.

    Gniewomir and Shayle discuss questions like:


    What’s the evidence for the concerns about Europe’s competitiveness?

    What counts as renewable hydrogen in the proposed EU rules? They discuss the three key criteria that could be required for subsidies: additionality, temporal correlation and geographic correlation

    Which electrolyzer technology—proton exchange membrane (PEM), alkaline, or solid oxide—is best for which power generation technology, such as solar, gas, and wind?

    How will the proposed rules impact developing countries’ plans to export hydrogen to Europe?

    How do we transport hydrogen? They discuss options, such as metal hydride, ammonia, methanol and liquid (also known as cryogenic) hydrogen.

    Will China ultimately take over electrolyzer manufacturing, like it did for solar photovoltaic manufacturing?


    Recommended Resources:


    Agora Energiewende: 12 Insights on Hydrogen


    Guidehouse: Facilitating hydrogen imports from non-EU countries


    Florence School of Regulation: Green hydrogen: how grey can it be?


    The New York Times: Can This Man Solve Europe’s Energy Conundrum?


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

    Catalyst is supported by Scale Microgrid Solutions, your comprehensive source for all distributed energy financing. Distributed generation can be complex. Scale makes financing it easy. Visit scalecapitalsolutions.com to learn more.

    Catalyst is supported by CohnReznick, a trusted partner for navigating the complex and evolving financial, tax and regulatory landscape of the renewable sector. Visit cohnreznick.com to learn more.

    • 44 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
148 Ratings

148 Ratings

Factor96 ,

Amazing Climate Tech Show

One of the few sources of intelligent optimism on the climate crisis, and a great introduction on everything from advanced fission reactors and solar to cultivated meat and insurance. Incredible technology to hear about.

MTNmojo29 ,

The best in the business

This is the best show on climate/clean tech - make sure you’re ready to go deep! Shayle is a great host and knows how to get into the core issues with each guest.

Every week is a must listen, thanks for the awesome discussions!

MikeM37363729 ,

Get smart on climatetech

If you’re working (or investing) in climate in any capacity, you should absolutely be subscribed. Shayle is an incredible synthesizer of complex information and a great communicator. And every show he brings on a brilliant guest that’s working on important energy & climate problems.

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