125 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. Produced by Latitude Media.

Catalyst with Shayle Kann Latitude Media

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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. Produced by Latitude Media.

    The Big Switch: Are Batteries the New Oil?

    The Big Switch: Are Batteries the New Oil?

    This week we’re bringing you a deep dive into battery supply chains — the season premier of The Big Switch, a show that Latitude Media makes in partnership with Columbia University’s SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy.
    Across this five-episode documentary series, hosted by the acclaimed energy scholar Dr. Melissa Lott, we examine every step of the sprawling global supply chains behind lithium-ion batteries.
    In this first episode, we break apart one of the battery cells that was in the original Tesla Roadster. Then we explore how critical minerals, like copper, lithium, and nickel, are becoming a major force in global geopolitics, especially involving China, which dominates battery supply chains.
    The supply chain behind all those batteries could be worth nearly half a trillion dollars by 2030. Whoever controls that supply chain has enormous power — figuratively and literally. 
    In this episode, we explore the stakes of the battery-based transition and ask whether critical minerals will look anything like oil.
    To listen to the full five-part series, including episodes on mining, manufacturing and more, subscribe to The Big Switch on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

    • 46 min
    The world of battery recycling

    The world of battery recycling

    The lithium-ion battery business is taking off, and the battery recycling business is close behind. Financiers are pouring over a billion dollars into recycling companies like Redwood Materials, Ascend Elements, and Li-Cycle. But success depends on a steady supply of used batteries, and with batteries lasting longer than expected — and the battery market still in its infancy — there just aren’t enough dying batteries to go around. 
    As a result, a significant portion of recyclers’ feedstock is coming from manufacturer scrap, i.e. the waste that companies like SK On and Panasonic don’t turn into cells at the factory. But these battery makers are incentivized to minimize waste, which raises big questions about whether recyclers will be able to get enough used batteries to sustainably feed their operations.
    So which technologies and business models will succeed in this chapter of the battery industry?
    In this episode, Shayle talks to Dan Steingart, chair of the earth and environmental engineering department at Columbia University. (Steingart’s lab gets funding from battery manufacturer Northvolt.) Shayle and Dan cover topics like:

    The steps in nickel-manganese-cobalt battery recycling and what Dan calls “zombie lithium”

    The differences between pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy

    Dan’s bet on solvent extraction as an under-appreciated technology

    Redwood Materials’ focus on winning the feedstock battle

    Ascend Elements’ hydro-to-cathode technology

    Li-Cycle’s focus on making inputs for cathode manufacturers

    How these recyclers want to compete downstream by producing cathode precursor and cathode material 

    Why Dan is surprisingly bearish on direct recycling for lithium-iron-phosphate

    Recommended Resources:
    Nature Sustainability: Examining different recycling processes for lithium-ion batteries
    Latitude Media: What’s so hard about building a circular battery economy?
    Are growing concerns over AI’s power demand justified? Join us for our upcoming Transition-AI event featuring three experts with a range of views on how to address the energy needs of hyperscale computing, driven by artificial intelligence. Don’t miss this live, virtual event on May 8.

    • 36 min
    The electricity gauntlet has arrived

    The electricity gauntlet has arrived

    The electricity gauntlet we covered last year has been having a moment in the national spotlight, with coverage of rising load growth in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. 
    On one side of the gauntlet, demand for electricity is rising, driven by new loads like EVs, data centers, and electrification. On the other side, electricity supply is slow to grow, bogged down by years-long interconnection queues, the immense challenges of building transmission, and other bottlenecks. And utilities are stuck in the middle, struggling to deliver enough power to meet that rising demand.
    These challenges have been brewing for years, but the AI race is supercharging demand as big tech companies seek out power for their growing data center fleet. 
    So what does all this mean for emissions and prices? And what tools do we have to make it through this electricity gauntlet?
    In this episode, Shayle talks to his colleague Andy Lubershane, partner and head of research at Energy Impact Partners. Shayle and Andy cover topics like:

    Why utilities are building new natural gas plants and keeping coal plants open to meet load growth

    How technologies like nuclear, grid-enhancing technologies, geothermal, and multi-day storage could meet load growth with fewer emissions

    What utilities can do to prepare new gas plants for carbon-capture and storage

    What the gauntlet might do to electricity prices and which customers might be willing to pay higher premiums (data centers, cough cough)

    Whether the hype around rising power demand is overblown

    Plus, what medieval Swedish spearmen have to do with electricity 


    Recommended Resources:
    Andy Lubershane: The electricity gauntlet
    S&P Global: NERC raises North American power system reliability flags as demand could outstrip supply

    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.
    Catalyst is brought to you by Atmos Financial. Atmos is revolutionizing finance by leveraging your deposits to exclusively fund decarbonization solutions, like solar and electrification. Join in under 2 minutes at joinatmos.com/catalyst.

    • 47 min
    Digging into the SEC climate disclosure rules

    Digging into the SEC climate disclosure rules

    The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved new rules this month on what information companies must disclose about their greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks, but notably dropped more stringent requirements that the commission initially proposed. 
    Despite being halted by lawsuits, the rules are a significant win for climate transparency. But they’re not as strong as existing climate disclosure regulations in California and the European Union, where many multinational corporations do business anyway.
    So how big of a deal are the new SEC rules?
    In this episode, Shayle talks to Mallory Thomas, risk advisory partner at consulting and accounting firm Baker Tilly US. The two talk about the details of the new rules and cover topics like:

    The rules’ requirements for disclosing greenhouse gasses and climate risks

    How the rules compare to European Union’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive and California’s twin climate disclosure laws


    Which companies are required to comply and under what conditions

    How standardized reporting may help with comparability across companies 


    Recommended resources:
    Baker Tilly: SEC announces final rules for climate-related disclosures
    Deloitte: A landmark ruling for ESG disclosure requirements
    Reuters: US climate rule will boost sustainable accounting industry
    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.
    Catalyst is brought to you by Atmos Financial. Atmos is revolutionizing finance by leveraging your deposits to exclusively fund decarbonization solutions, like solar and electrification. Join in under 2 minutes at joinatmos.com/catalyst.

    • 32 min
    Climate tech’s tough year in the public markets

    Climate tech’s tough year in the public markets

    Two major indicators of climate tech stocks – the S&P Clean Energy Index and the MAC Global Solar Index – are significantly trailing the overall market. They’ve been declining for months, down from their mid-pandemic highs when they performed far better than the rest of the economy.
    So what happened to climate tech investments in the public markets? And what do these investments tell us about the coming year for climate tech?
    In this episode, Shayle talks to Shanu Mathew, portfolio manager and research analyst at Lazard. They cover topics like:

    The macroeconomic factors behind this underperforming sector, like higher interest rates, election uncertainty, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine

    Trends in specific industries, like EVs, solar, and lithium

    Investors moving funds into (and paying more for) climate tech stocks with consistently higher performance 

    Analysts’ expectations for climate tech stocks in the the near- and long-term


    Recommended Resources:
    Shanu Mathew: Cleantech FY23 Recap And FY24 Outlook
    Catalyst: How has US industrial policy impacted climatetech investment?

    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.
    Catalyst is brought to you by Atmos Financial. Atmos is revolutionizing finance by leveraging your deposits to exclusively fund decarbonization solutions, like solar and electrification. Join in under 2 minutes at joinatmos.com/catalyst.

    • 40 min
    The early days of AI on the grid

    The early days of AI on the grid

    The first wave of digital grid infrastructure in the U.S. didn’t quite deliver on its promises. More than 100 million smart meters have rolled out across the country, buoyed initially by billions in federal funding. But instead of using them for exciting things like time-of-use pricing and automated demand response, utilities used them for more mundane things like automated billing, according to a whitepaper from Guidehouse. 
    Could the new wave of AI-based grid tech be different?
    In this episode, Shayle talks to David Groarke, managing director at the energy consultancy Indigo Advisory Group, who co-authored a forthcoming Latitude Intelligence report on utilities and AI.
    David says that AI is showing promise so far. Unlike the first wave of hardware-focused advanced-metering infrastructure, AI leans heavily on relatively cheap software and data. He also says that AI’s capabilities are advancing quickly (“doing pressups” as the Irish say) by improving algorithms, handling more tasks, and improving efficiency. 
    David and Shayle cover use-cases and other topics like:

    Wildfire management, using data from cameras, lidar, and satellites

    Customer propensity modeling, including detecting EVs to aid with infrastructure planning

    Automated and personalized communication with customers

    Predictive maintenance of substations and other grid infrastructure, using data from, for example, computer vision to detect corrosion and reduce downtime

    Optimizing transmission capacity by moving from static ratings of transmission lines to real-time ratings

    Whether incumbents or startups are leading the development of these AI-based solutions

    David’s take on whether AI’s impact on utilities will be revolutionary or incremental


    Recommended Resources:
    Latitude: Welcome to the smart meter’s second act
    Latitude: AI is simplifying complex decisions for utilities
    Latitude: Seven ways utilities are exploring AI for the grid
    Latitude: Could AI-fueled weather forecasts boost renewable energy production?

    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.
    Catalyst is brought to you by Atmos Financial. Atmos is revolutionizing finance by leveraging your deposits to exclusively fund decarbonization solutions, like residential solar and electrification. FDIC-insured with market-leading savings rates, cash-back checking, and zero fees. Get an account in minutes at joinatmos.com.

    • 37 min

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