14 episodes

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

The World Changing Podcast TheWCP

    • Technology
    • 5.0 • 9 Ratings

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

    Clean Energy Around the Clock Today!? Inventor and Energy Dome CEO Claudio Spadacini on his New Battery

    Clean Energy Around the Clock Today!? Inventor and Energy Dome CEO Claudio Spadacini on his New Battery

    Born and raised in a small Italian town near the Swiss Alps, Claudio Spadacini learned from an early age that electricity can spark world changing innovation anywhere. Due in large part to their access to hydropower, the first car ever built in Italy came from his small town. In step, Claudio’s first aspiration was to design race cars. While he still loves race cars, Claudio eventually transitioned his passion into engineering and sustainable energy solutions. 

    In this episode, Greg and Claudio recount first meeting at COP 28 in Dubai. Claudio shares his journey from the geothermal energy sector to Energy Dome - creating the world’s first CO2 battery. He also explains his perspective on what it takes to be truly innovative in a sector. Yes, this conversation definitely exhilarated Greg and his passion for physics! We hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did.
    Outline: Chapter 1: Recap and Introduction to the Episode with Greg and Flo (00:38 - 04:33)Greg and Flo Recap the interview and introduce Energy Dome as a company focused on enabling clean energy production around the clock.The importance of energy storage for 10-12 hours is highlighted as a key missing piece in the clean energy transition.
    Chapter 2: Interview Begins, Meeting Claudio at COP 28 and Energy Dome's Mission (05:02 - 08:56)Claudio and Greg discuss meeting at COP 28 and sharing insights on clean energy initiatives.Claudio's background in engineering and his success in founding impactful technology ventures are mentioned.
    Chapter 3: Challenges in Geothermal Energy and Energy Dome's Solutions (09:17 - 14:46)The challenges of geothermal energy as a base load power source are discussed.Energy Dome's approach to solving these challenges and transitioning into energy storage solutions is explored.
    Chapter 4: Entrepreneurial Journey and Innovation Process (15:02 - 20:07)Claudio talks about the innovation process starting with deep knowledge and challenging the status quo.The importance of analyzing and synthesizing information to drive innovation is emphasized.
    Chapter 5: Energy Dome's Technology and Impact in the Market (22:00 - 27:43)The discussion shifts to Energy Dome's technology and its ability to maintain efficiency on a weekly basis for energy storage.Claudio explains the importance of stress-testing the technology and continuing to evaluate its performance in the market.
    Chapter 6: Standardization, Business Model, and Finance (31:19 - 43:34)Standardization challenges in geothermal energy projects are addressed, along with the goal of making Energy Dome's technology temperature independent.The scalability and financeability of the business model are touched upon, highlighting the need for creating a significant impact in the market.
    Chapter 7: Looking Back and Future Outlook (45:06 - 52:57)Claudio reflects on starting a company in 2007 and the importance of thinking big and being laser-focused on goals.The conversation ends with a call for strong teams and individuals to drive the transition away from fossil fuels towards cleaner energy solutions.
    Claudio Spadacini Bio and Publications:
    Claudio holds a Master’s degree from the Polytechnic University of Milan in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in Turbomachinery, Energy Production, and Conversion. Claudio was awarded the Sesini Award as a top graduate student and, during his career, filed 45 patents.He's the founder and CEO of Energy Dome, a leading long-duration energy storage solutions provider. The company developed the CO2 Battery, a breakthrough technology capable of storing a large quantity of energy cost-effectively and efficiently. Energy Dome’s mission is to unlock renewable energy and make solar and wind power dispatchable 24/7. An engineer by education, but most importantly, an innovator and entrepreneur by nature and experience, Claudio has founded multiple successful technology ventures in the energy sector, taking them from germinal concepts to tangible market leadership

    • 53 min
    Scaling Alchemy, the Breakthrough Marvel Microreactor and Aalo Atomics Co-Founder Matt Loszak

    Scaling Alchemy, the Breakthrough Marvel Microreactor and Aalo Atomics Co-Founder Matt Loszak

    As a kid, Matt Loszak loved to learn and perform magic tricks. The only problem? He ended up telling the audience the secret mechanism of the trick! Today, Matt is still breaking down magic tricks, but this time, it’s the alchemy of nuclear power. Matt and his team at Aalo Atomics are working to commercialize the breakthrough Marvel microreactor developed by Idaho National Laboratory. Their goal is to deploy cheap, safe nuclear power within a few years.
    Why is the Marvel Microreactor a breakthrough development?How will Aalo Atomics scale nuclear power in the coming years? Listen in and find out!
    About Matt Loszak:Matt studied Engineering and Physics at Queens University, then worked as an acoustical engineer for one year before quitting to spend ten years in the software startup world. Most recently, he cofounded Humi, an HR software suite that scaled up to 150 employees. His holy grail has been to return to his roots, combining engineering and physics with what he has learned from the startup world. Aalo Atomics is the result - they will be commercializing the MARVEL micro-reactor from INL, the first new micro-reactor built in the US in decades. Matt's TwitterMatt's Linkedin

    • 1 hr 5 min
    The Global Impact of Local Energy with Bill Nussey

    The Global Impact of Local Energy with Bill Nussey

    Bill had an impressive career as a tech entrepreneur and businessman before he turned his sights (back to) energy. He started his first company in highschool - a graphics software company when personal computers were still text based. He has started and sold several tech companies. He joined one startup as CEO, grew the company to nearly $100 million in revenue, and then sold it to IBM. He then served as an advisor to the C-suite on at IBM on strategy. 
    But even before all of this success, his first love was electricity and the power grid. After graduating from NC State University, Bill traveled all over North Carolina to inspect power plants - climbing down into dams and up towers - literally touching the vast infrastructure of the power grid.
    So what does this technology and business guru think about the future of energy? 

    Looking through the lens of his technological and business experience, he began his career transition to renewable energy with a TED talk about accelerating the shift to clean energy. Then, he created the number one ranked renewable energy podcast called the Freeing Energy podcast and, ultimately, used his research to publish a best selling book called Freeing Energy at the end of 2021 - “how innovators are using local scale solar and batteries to disrupt the global energy industry from the outside.” Bill is now a Department of Energy clean energy champion. He co-founded a company called Solar Inventions, whose mission is to commercialize a set of scientific breakthroughs for improving silicon photovoltaics. He is again a venture capitalist, but for the energy transition. 

    We talk about the power of networked technologies, the monopolistic nature of current utilities and discuss parallels between the mobile phone revolution and the future of local, on-site clean power. We even get to hear Bill's personal story of what has fueled his entrepreneurial career from high school to this very day. This is a good one guys. 
    Outline 
    Chapter 1: Introduction
    Timestamp: 00:00-01:07
    Description: Introduction to the podcast and its focus on decentralized and carbon-free energy solutions. Introduces the host and producer.
    Chapter 2: Bill's Background and Freeing Energy Journey
    Timestamp: 01:29-06:37
    Description: Discussion about Bill's background as a tech entrepreneur and his transition into the energy industry. Mention of his book "Freeing Energy" and the research journey behind it.
    Chapter 3: Sparking the Journey
    Timestamp: 08:29-10:28
    Description: Bill shares a pivotal moment that sparked his interest in transforming lives through local energy systems.
    Chapter 4: Exploring Local Energy
    Timestamp: 12:56-15:37
    Description: Highlights the importance of small, local energy systems and their potential to disrupt the global energy industry.
    Chapter 5: Parallels with Computing Industry
    Timestamp: 16:45-18:35
    Description: Discusses the parallels between the electricity industry and the computing industry, particularly in terms of scalability and technological advancements.
    Chapter 6: Challenges and Opportunities
    Timestamp: 21:16-24:49
    Description: Explores the challenges and opportunities in transitioning to decentralized energy systems, including interconnection processes and the potential for global utility.
    Chapter 7: The Energy Internet
    Timestamp: 25:38-27:35
    Description: Introduces the concept of the "energy internet" and the need for a globally scalable tech platform in the energy industry.
    Chapter 8: Transforming Lives
    Timestamp: 36:28-39:31
    Description: Bill shares a conversation with a utility executive that highlights the transformative power of decentralized energy systems.
    Chapter 9: Fun Facts and Statistics
    Timestamp: 48:38-50:47
    Description: Presents interesting facts and statistics related to energy, including the impact of solar and battery technologies.
    Chapter 10: Conclusion
    Timestamp: 55:58-56:13
    Description: Wraps up the podcast episode and encourages listeners to tune in to future episodes.

    • 56 min
    No Miracles Needed to 100% Clean Energy with Mark Z. Jacobson (Stanford U., The Solutions Project)

    No Miracles Needed to 100% Clean Energy with Mark Z. Jacobson (Stanford U., The Solutions Project)

    Since he first struggled with air pollution as a teenager in Los Angeles, Mark Z. Jacobson has committed himself to understanding and solving this issue. And boy, has he succeeded! Today, Mark is a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford University. He has published six books and over 175 peer-reviewed papers.
    His research forms the scientific basis of the Green New Deal and many laws and commitments for cities, states and countries to transition to 100 percent renewable electricity and heat generation. 

    In Mark’s most recent book, “No Miracles Needed,” he says we still have time to save the planet without resorting to 'miracle' technologies. Not only is there no need for carbon capture, biofuels or nuclear power, but investment in these technologies are sucking up valuable time and money we could be using to scale existing clean energy technology - wind, water and solar. We also discussed one of our favorite challenges to greening the grid, incentives. How is the Inflation Reduction Act incentivizing the development of various forms of energy and “climate tech”? Let’s find out.
    References:Mark Z. Jacobson Full CV - Has links to Mark's breakthrough research as well as his interview on The David Letterman Show.
    Reference at 01:08:32 to organizations that track government subsidies to the fossil fuel industry .- International Monetary Fund
    The Solutions Project
    Outline: 1. Introduction to the World Changing Podcast (00:00-01:19)- Podcast's purpose: deconstruct projects and products for a decentralized and carbon-free future.- Host introduction: Greg Robinson, co-founder of Aston and producer.- Mention of first episode of the second season.- Guest introduction: Mark Jacobson, professor and director at Stanford University.
    2. Greg and Flo Introduce Mark Z. Jacobson2a. Mark Jacobson's Research on Fossil Fuel Elimination (01:32-05:09)- Mention of Mark Jacobson's work in 2015 on a mathematically verifiable plan to eliminate fossil fuels.- Research initially focused on the US and expanded to 139 countries.- Reference to Mark Jacobson's book, "No Miracles Needed".2b. Background of Mark Jacobson (03:24-06:30)- Mark Jacobson's position as a professor and director at Stanford University.- Publication of books and peer-reviewed papers.- Involvement in the Solutions Project.- TED talk and appearance on David Letterman's show.- Flo discusses her favorite parts of the conversation.
    4. Discussion on Climate Change and Finance (06:30-08:37)- Mention of attending COP28 and roundtable discussion on direct air capture.- Invitation to discuss topics Mark Jacobson has recently talked about.- Focus on avoiding explanations of Mark Jacobson's research and papers.
    5. Financial Challenges in Transitioning to Renewable Energy (08:42-22:09)- Exploration of financial challenges in renewable energy transition.- Emphasis on time constraints and urgency.- Mention of a guest with expertise in power electronics and transmission lines.
    6. Overcoming Barriers and Unlocking Financing (22:09-49:26)- Addressing the need for solutions to overcome financial barriers.- Reference to the importance of information and providing cost-benefit analyses.- Highlighting the necessity of stakeholder engagement and community involvement.
    7. Scaling Research and Engaging Stakeholders (49:27-1:14:03)- Discussion on scaling Mark Jacobson's research across 139 countries.- Consideration of forming a company or utilizing NGO-style mechanisms for scaling.- Importance of engaging stakeholders and policymakers to effect change.
    8. Conclusion and Call to Action (1:14:03-1:16:24)- Acknowledgment of the need to target specific listeners and stakeholders.- Appreciation for the conversation with Mark Jacobson.- Closing remarks and invitation to follow the World Changing Podcast.
    Note: The timestamps provided are approximate and may differ slightly from the actual timing in the transcript.

    • 1 hr 16 min
    Five Challenges to Greening the Power Grid, It’s Season 2!

    Five Challenges to Greening the Power Grid, It’s Season 2!

    We're back and we're asking questions like “Why do environmentalists try to kill windfarms?” It’s a big, complicated world out there and we are breaking down five key challenges to greening the power grid. From geography to misaligned incentives, here’s a brief rundown of the themes we will be discussing throughout season 2. Want to learn more? Head to the Aston website to read the blog.
    References: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/713101
    https://www.astonlabs.co/news/5-key-challenges-updating-us-power-grid-carbon-free-energy

    • 14 min
    Greg & Flo Take on The (monolithic) Power Utilities

    Greg & Flo Take on The (monolithic) Power Utilities

    Flo asks: "Are our power utilities businesses or part of the government?" The answer is pretty murky. How did most power utilities in the US become investor owned, publicly traded companies with no competition? In this episode, Greg and I try to address these questions. We look into the history of power utilities in the U.S. and try to imagine how the current “business model” could be innovated. How we use power has changed a lot since 1882, but the companies and business models that serve us, have not. Today we have all kinds of energy consumers - large and small - depending on the power grid for anything from producing pharmaceutical drugs to powering your home air conditioning. Additionally, customers increasingly want to both consume and produce green energy (solar PV etc). Seems like we need our power grids and the businesses that run them to innovate. But what will incentivize this innovation when they have no competition? Let's discuss. 

    • 1 hr 12 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
9 Ratings

9 Ratings

Jessica Mitsch Homes ,

Great resource!

The World Changing Podcast is a great resource for learning about energy and the challenges of transitioning to clean energy. The hosts, Greg Robinson and Flo Lumsden, do a great job of interviewing experts in the field and making the topic accessible to a wide audience.

LBW049 ,

Thought proving show!

Such a though proving show! Great content, easy to follow and I always learn a lot.

FakeRishi ,

amazing podcast

I really love how Aston Labs takes complicated concepts and simplifies them. One of my favorites that I look forward to every month!

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