Watt It Takes: The Startup Making Solar-Storage Better Than the African Grid

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By Greentech Media

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This week on Watt It Takes: how a computer nerd who loved assembling electronics became obsessed with designing a solar-storage system to light up Africa.

In this episode, Powerhouse CEO Emily Kirsch sits down with Xavier Helgesen, the co-founder and chief technology officer at ZOLA Electric.

Zola is a provider of solar and storage systems in Africa. Since its founding in 2012, the company has served over a million people with clean power in five countries.

Over the years, Zola has evolved from a small, scrappy startup that offered very basic energy packages into a hardware company that installs sleek, scalable power systems that function better than the grid.

“[Our goal] was not to be worse than the grid, but available anywhere — but to just be better than the grid. For solar and batteries to fundamentally be cheaper and more reliable than the grid. And if we succeed in that in the developing world, then the market is almost limitless,” says Helgesen.

In this interview, Helgesen talks about how he first got interested in energy access, the complexities of setting up a company as an outsider in Tanzania, and how Zola shifted into designing its own hybrid system.

This conversation was recorded live at Powerhouse’s headquarters. To learn more about future speakers and attending a live event, go to Powerhouse.fund and click on the events tab.

Support for this podcast is brought to you by Sungrow. With the world’s most powerful 250-kilowatt, 1,500-volt string inverter, Sungrow is providing disruptive technology for utility-scale projects.

Subscribe to GTM podcasts via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you find your audio content.

Source:: Watt It Takes: The Startup Making Solar-Storage Better Than the African Grid

      

Are Ancient Bugs the Key to Storing Wind and Solar? [Special Content From NREL]

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By Greentech Media

This is a branded podcast made in collaboration between the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and GTM Creative Strategies.

As grids get saturated with wind and solar electricity, there’s pressure to find new ways to store that energy across daily, monthly or seasonal variations.

Could the answer be a billion-year-old microbe?

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and SoCalGas are currently testing a new bioreactor that could turn renewable electrons into renewable methane — allowing excess generation to be “stored” in existing natural gas pipelines.

The system relies on an ancient microorganism that ferments hydrogen and carbon dioxide and turns it into methane. By feeding the bugs hydrogen from renewable resources and CO2 from industrial sources, companies like SoCalGas could harness a new supply of renewable natural gas.

NREL has been testing the process in the lab for years. And it finally built a larger-scale version of the bioreactor.

We sent producer Catherine Jaffee to NREL’s lab in Golden, Colorado to check it out. We’ll learn how it works in the first part of the episode.

In the second half of the episode, we talk with NREL’s Kevin Harrison and SoCalGas’ Ron Kent about how the system is performing so far.

Learn more about all the world-changing research on clean energy happening at NREL.

Source:: Are Ancient Bugs the Key to Storing Wind and Solar? [Special Content From NREL]

      

We Didn’t Start the Fire

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By Greentech Media

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The world’s fifth-largest economy looked more like a developing country last week, as PG&E purposefully cut power to millions of people in Northern California for days.

We knew this was coming. The growing safety and financial risk of wildfires in the state mean mass power outages will become more common. But in this case, PG&E was slammed for the way it handled things.

We’ll dig into the scope, the fallout, and the solutions of California’s power shutoffs due to wildfire threats.

Then: Dyson made a big business out of selling $400 hair dryers and $500 vacuum cleaners, but it couldn’t make a high-end electric car work. We’ll talk about why Dyson wrote off its EV plans.

Finally, the Trump administration lifts a tariff exemption for bifacial solar panels. So why are these two-sided solar panels becoming so popular now?

Additional resources:

  • New York Times: Inside PG&E’s Control Room
  • Bloomberg: What Happens When a Vacuum Company Tries to Make an Electric Car
  • GTM Squared: Has Bifacial Solar Finally Moved From Theoretical to Practical?

Support for this podcast is brought to you by Sungrow. With the world’s most powerful 250-kilowatt, 1,500-volt string inverter, Sungrow is providing disruptive technology for utility-scale projects.

Subscribe to GTM podcasts via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you find your audio content.

Source:: We Didn’t Start the Fire

      

How America Thwarted a Giant ‘Extension Cord’ for Renewables

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By Greentech Media

America is a place where if you can dream something — no matter how big or ambitious — you can do it.

Unless you’re trying to string 700 miles of high-voltage transmission lines to bring wind power from Oklahoma to Tennessee.

Our guest this week is Russell Gold, author of a new book about the saga that unfolded when wind energy pioneer Michael Skelly tried just that.

The book, “Superpower,” is all about Skelly’s attempt to build one of the most ambitious energy infrastructure projects in recent history — and how he faced nearly every obstacle imaginable. What does Skelly’s journey tell us about America’s diminishing ability to do great things?

Russell Gold is a veteran newspaper reporter who was a pulitzer prize finalist for his reporting on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He wrote a book in 2014 on the rise of fracking, called “The Boom.” He’ll join us to talk about the reasons why Skelly’s transmission plan failed.

Then, two top presidential candidates are calling for a ban on fracking and promising to phase out nuclear power. What would be the consequences if a democrat actually put those promises into action?

Finally: we’re digging into a piece from Jonathan Franzen in the New Yorker that got a lot of angry criticism. Should we just give up and stop pretending we can do anything about climate change?

Support for this podcast is brought to you by Sungrow. With the world’s most powerful 250-kilowatt, 1,500-volt string inverter, Sungrow is providing disruptive technology for utility-scale projects.

Subscribe to GTM podcasts via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you find your audio content.

Source:: How America Thwarted a Giant ‘Extension Cord’ for Renewables