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TALKS FROM 2018

AirMiners.org

The first “Business & Energy Talk” was held in mid-January, 2018.  The presenters were Tito Jankowski and Matthew Eshed, co-founders of Impossible Labs in San Francisco.  After evaluating carbon dioxide emissions and climate-related initiatives, Tito and Matthew came upon an important opportunity – going beyond “zero emissions” and into a world of “negative emissions”.  Tito and Matthew have formed a new venture, AirMiners.org, and have identified over 60 companies and institutions who are taking a business-based approach to capturing CO2, sequestering it, and turning it into products.  Watch the video to get a sample of what they’ve found.

Here is the link to that discussion:  Click here.

Contact: Tito Jankowski (tito@impossiblelabs.io) and Matthew Eshed (m@impossiblelabs.io)

SOFTCAR

Our second talk was in March, 2018.  The presenter was François Vuille, PhD, who is Executive Director at the Energy Center of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland (EPFL).  François is also Chairman and CSO of SOFTCAR, a pioneer among battery electronic vehicles and a potential industry disruptor.  A Swiss start-up, SOFTCAR is based on novel vehicle architecture and massive use of biopolymer materials and advanced composites. Unlike other electric vehicle projects, SOFTCAR can be produced at unprecedented low weight, low cost and low capital investment, without compromising on performance and safety.  Questions from listeners examined SOFTCAR’s operating and safety performance, and the flexibility afforded by biopolymers and recyclable advanced composites.

To see how François and his team intend to bring SOFTCAR to market, Click here

https://zoom.us/recording/play/2WuiUDOGz0w0Bz4RmG7p3K8sKL8-PcfQShDTKcFjCoxG2YrZu-UzLbCnhBaEr2_t

Contact: Dr François Vuille, Chairman & CSO  vuille@softcar.ch 

Racepoint Energy

Our May 2018 presentation was from Dr. Anna Demeo, Director of Smart Grid R&D for Racepoint Energy. Anna has a broad academic background, and will join the faculty at UPEI’s School of Sustainable Design Engineering in the fall of 2018.  She also has broad experience in industry, specializing in system design, and has worked in telecom, IP network infrastructure, marine systems, power systems and smart-grid technology.

Anna’s talk focused on motivations for widespread adoption of smart micro grids, with applications for communities as well as for individual commercial and residential buildings.  Smart grid technology shifts the direction of “who leads and who reacts” – from electricity consumers leading demand generation – to electricity consumers responding to the demand generators make available.  Racepoint Energy is developing systems that allow individual consumers to customize how they prioritize their energy use throughout the day – bringing electricity use “out of the shadows”, much as telecoms has been transformed from the world of land lines. 

To see how Anna and Racepoint Energy intend to change local electricity use, click the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zz7cPj4AqtI

Contact:  Dr. Anna Demeo   annademeoswh@gmail.com

Energy Web Foundation

In June 2018, Dr. Ana Trbovich offered a discussion on “Blockchain in Energy – the EWF Platform and Use Cases”.  Ana is a council member of the Energy Web Foundation, which offers free public access to their systems. She is also co-founder and COO of Grid Singularity, and a professor of entrepreneurship at FEFA in Belgrade, Serbia. Ana serves as a member of the governing board of the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT).

Ana opened her talk with a brief description of what blockchain is and how it functions.  She described the need for blockchain in energy, blockchain’s specific applications in energy, and some background information on the Energy Web Foundation.  Using examples of early adoption, she illustrated why energy executives perceive blockchain as not only offering disruptive platforms, but as also delivering significant back office process improvements.

For more on how Ana and EWF are bringing new technology to energy commerce, Click here.

Contact: Ana Trbovich   ana.trbovich@energyweb.org

Cryptocurrency in Renewable Energy – SolarCoin

In September 2018, Nick Gogerty led a discussion on a company he has co-founded, SolarCoin.  SolarCoin ( https://solarcoin.org) is a blockchain based global solar energy rewards program worth +$7 billion USD, distributed in 27 countries. Gogerty was an award winner at UN COP 22 for inventing a developing country nano-grid solar energy and identity solution based on blockchain technology. The mission of SolarCoin, which has been in operation for about 4 1/2 years, is to accelerate the deployment of solar energy via a rewards program that Nick sees as akin to air miles. The discussion not only explored the world of blockchain and bitcoin, but also fundamental notions such as “why does any currency have value?”

Nick formerly served as the Chief Technology Officer of Healthcoin a global diabetes prevention program and ecosystem based on blockchain technology targeting 100 million people. He has authored The Nature of Value and is guest lecturer at Columbia University on investing, macro-economics and innovation. He received his MBA from Ecole de Ponts et Chaussées and his BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Iowa.

For more on how Nick and SolarCoin are advancing the deployment of solar energy, click here.

There was brief 4 minute discussion after the main 30 minute program.  You can access that discussion if you Click here.

Contact:  Nick Gogerty  nick.gogerty@solarcoin.org

Purify Fuel – Making Diesel Fuel Cleaner and More Efficient

In November 2018, Purify Fuel CEO John Carroll, supported by CFO Steve Guse, described their start-up firm and its promise to significantly reduce diesel fuel emissions while enhancing engine performance.  Purify Fuel is aggressively launching a patent-pending fuel additive based on nanotechnology oxygen catalysts which increases fuel efficiency by 6-12% while reducing harmful emissions by 25-50% for both Diesel and Biodiesel.  Their nanO2 Combustion Catalyst promotes a more complete combustion of diesel fuel to Save Money, Increase Power and Reduce Emissions.  Their nanO2 fuel additive causes combustion to start more quickly and then donates billions of molecules of oxygen per gallon late in the process to prolong the fuel burn.  This is the chemical equivalent of altering the timing of a compression combustion engine to burn a larger percentage of the fuel during the power stroke, thus increasing engine performance. In addition to improved fuel efficiency and additional power, a reduction in harmful emissions occurs as less unburnt fuel goes out the tailpipe as particulate matter.  Superior performance, improved fuel efficiency and emission reductions are achieved without any engine modification or upfront cost.

John Carroll spent 12 years as President/CEO of Intelio Technologies which did B2B sales to large petroleum resellers.  Prior to Intelio he was Sr. Vice President of Marketing/Strategy  at Meritage Technologies which was named Inc. Magazine’s #15 Fastest growing company in 2002.  Prior to Meritage he held senior marketing roles with Dell and Zenith Data Systems.  John has a BS degree from Northern Illinois University.  Steve Guse, Purify Fuel’s CFO, spent 30 years at Caterpillar.  Most recently he was Group Chief Financial Officer for Worldwide Services.  Prior to that role, Steve was Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer for the Caterpillar’s ElectroMotive Diesel acquisition which builds engines for Rail and Marine. Other Caterpillar positions included: Group CFO for Europe, and Regional CFO for Asia Pacific.  Steve received his BS in Accounting from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Northwestern.

For more about improving the performance of diesel engines while reducing emissions, click here.

Contact John Carroll:  j.carroll@purifyfuel.com

mobile: +1 949 842 6159

TALKS FROM 2019

SAF-USA.com:  Solar Activated Façade

Our January 2019 presentation was by Eric Nelson, the CEO of SAF-USA.com – a start-up company now bringing to North America an energy-efficient building cladding system that has been successfully deployed in Europe for over a decade.  As an architect, Eric fully understands the range of issues arising from legacy construction and insulation practices. 

At its core, the solar-activated façade (“SAF”) is a unique, eco-friendly cladding system comprised of glass and wood that captures and stores passive solar energy within the building skin – creating a thermal buffer against cold winter temperatures.  SAF not only reduces the CO2 generated to heat buildings by up to 85%, but it also reduces the wall thickness required to achieve satisfactory thermal insulation.  SAF can be combined with photo-voltaic electricity generation to further reduce the CO2 generated from operating a building.  Add to that the attractive look of the installed façade – where glass panels protect the wood from weathering due to UV radiation.

For more information about this innovative building product – click here.

For more information about SAF Systems, check out http://saf-usa.com/en/

Contact Eric Nelson at eric.nelson@saf-usa.com

Eric would like to get your feedback from the presentation, thus he is kindly asking you to fill out this brief survey. Thank you

Ammonia as a Low-Carbon Fuel

On 19 March, Dr. Stephen Wittrig discussed the history and future potential of ammonia, a molecule whose main market today is in the production of agricultural fertilizer.  Steve, with an extensive background in a variety of alternative energy options, believes that using ammonia as a fuel could scale up the global demand for ammonia by a factor of 50.  And with a 100-year history of safe use, ammonia is safer to handle than hydrogen gas, an oft touted alternative transportation fuel.

Manufacture of ammonia produces less CO2 than LNG, one of the current forms of international natural gas trade.  And while ammonia is manufactured from natural gas and coal, it can become “zero-carbon” by reinjecting the CO2 back into the hydrocarbon reservoirs.  Technically, although costly today, the produced CO2 can also be used to improve circulation in geothermal reservoirs.  Once produced, ammonia can be shipped almost anywhere to support neighborhood energy stations, micro grid systems, and island economies with limited local energy sources.

For more information on how ammonia competes with other power and transportation fuels: Click here   

(Note:  you may need to scroll the red line on the bottom back to left, i.e. to zero, to start the video from the beginning.)

For a copy of Steve’s presentation and backup slides, Click here

Contact:  tswittrig@gmail.com

Nuclear Energy:   A Key Weapon in the Battle to Limit Climate Change

On May 28, 2019, Dr. George Markowsky offered his perspective on the risks of climate change, and of the potential for updated nuclear energy technologies to play a bigger role in the global energy system.  George has a PhD in mathematics and started his career at IBM’s Watson Research Laboratories.  He is currently a professor of computer science at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

In George’s view, CO2 emissions not only need to be reduced, but in addition, significant amounts of CO2 already in the atmosphere need to be removed.  Nuclear power – which produces no CO2 – could play a big role in both endeavors.  But the generally remembered history of nuclear energy is one of nuclear weapons and nuclear accidents – a history based on technologies developed in the 1940’s.

For more on how modern nuclear energy technologies can play a role in the world’s energy future, click here.

Contact:  Dr. George Markowsky at markowsky@gmail.com

The Role of Energy in Sustainable Development 

Our September 10, 2019 presentation was given by Dr. Quinta Nwanosike-Warren. Dr Warren, a native of Nigeria, is a chemical engineer and an energy professional. She has experience in oil and gas, electricity generation and transmission, energy policy reform, and international development. Currently Dr. Warren is the founder and CEO of Energy Research Consulting, which provides energy and water solutions for small- and medium-sized firms, primarily in Africa. She has also published the textbook “A Practical Guide to Oil & Gas Resource Characterization for Geologists and Reservoir Engineers”.

Dr. Warren’s presentation focused on how best to make energy projects sustainable in the developing world. In her view, even though “sustainability” is often associated with environmental stewardship, it also refers to other factors that enable longevity of energy systems. She offered examples of sustainable projects where she has played a role, as well as examples of other projects that were well-intentioned but nevertheless unstainable.

During the question and answer session, Dr. Warren addressed issues regarding rural electrification, deployment of wind and solar projects, water scarcity, and the nexus between energy and water on the African continent.

To learn more about how Dr. Warren approaches sustainable energy projects, click here.

Contact: Quinta@EngrRC.com

Climate Legislation in the Obama Presidency

On October 24, 2019, Merribel Ayres shared “The Untold Story of People, Politics, and Policy”. Merribel has deep expertise in the political dynamics of the climate issue, with her earliest involvement dating back to the first known US forum on climate in October 1980. She has served on boards and advisory groups for both businesses and government, and is currently active on the Board of the US Energy Association (USEA).

Merribel graduated with honors in English Literature from Bryn Mawr College, and holds a graduate diploma from Trinity College, University of Dublin, in Anglo-Irish Literature. She has also participated in executive education programs with the Harvard Kennedy School, the Harvard Business School and the Wharton School (U of Penn.)

In the early 2000s, her firm, Lighthouse Consulting Group, was chosen to manage the political engagement strategy for the “US Climate Action Partnership,” USCAP was an unprecedented coalition of 25 major corporations along with five national environmental organizations. Merribel shared insights and “lessons learned” from the intense experience of managing this coalition of prominent players who held the shared goal of achieving climate legislation in the US Congress. She also commented on the political dynamics prevailing in 2009-2010 which, despite one party controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress, made it difficult to convert climate aspirations into law.

To hear more about the challenges of progressing climate legislation through Congress, click here.

Contact: mayres@lighthouseconsultinggrp.com

An Introduction to Military Operational Energy

On November 19, 2019, Dr. Paul Sullivan spoke about the challenges, risks, and innovations associated with the operational energy requirements of military organizations. His focus was on the US Department of Defense, but he shared that almost every military organization in the world needs to cope with these same issues. Dr. Sullivan drew on his extensive experience and insights to share how military planners approach the topic of operational energy (energy use in operations) in conflict and training – sometimes in remote and often hostile locations. Please note that all opinions presented in this talk are Dr. Sullivan’s alone, and do not represent those of the National Defense University or any other entity with which he may be associated.

Dr. Sullivan has been a full professor at the National Defense University (NDU) in Washington DC since July 1999, where he has taught economics, industry analytics, about the energy industry, and electives on economic warfare, Iran, Iraq, the Islamic world, and natural resources and international security. Dr. Sullivan has been a primary faculty adviser at NDU to flag officers from around the world. He also has been an Adjunct Professor of Security Studies at Georgetown University, where he has taught classes on global energy and international security, and has been advising senior government and military leadership on energy, water, and related security issues for decades.

He obtained his Ph.D. from Yale University with highest honors and graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis University. Dr. Sullivan is a graduate of the prestigious Seminar XXI Program at MIT. He has a certificate of completion from the graduate-level Ethnoarchaeology Field Study run by Flinders University in Barunga, Australia.

To learn more about the role energy plays in battlefield success, click here.

Contact Dr. Sullivan at paul.sullivan.civ@msc.ndu.edu  Please put “Forum2100” in the title line to facilitate a reply.

TALKS FROM 2020

How Solar Energy Became Cheap

On January 21, 2020, Professor Gregory Nemet of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, talked about his recently published book – “How Solar Energy Became Cheap: A Model for Low-Carbon Innovation”.  Greg teaches at the UW’s LaFollette School of Public Affairs, where, among other things, he helps deliver the Energy Analysis and Policy certificate program for graduate students from across campus.

Greg’s talk started by describing why energy transitions are hard – due to disagreements about priorities, the historically slow 60-70 year transition from one dominant fuel to the next, and now, the global nature and the sustained impact of CO2 emissions.

He then examined the history of solar energy, from when it was a relatively expensive source of energy that required subsidies to gain market penetration, to a well-established, price competitive, and growing source of carbon-free electricity.  He described solar’s lengthy history and the international flow of knowledge, where individual countries in turn “took the baton” in the race to develop a cost-effective source of energy.  Greg also shared other lessons learned along the way, and how these lessons might be applied to other sources of energy – to help accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels.

Nemet’s current research focuses on understanding the process of technological change and the ways in which public policy can affect it.  He is currently a Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 6th Assessment Report.

To learn more about Greg’s optimistic outlook for replacing fossil fuels, click here

Contact Greg Nemet at nemet@wisc.edu

searCH4power

Our second Business and Energy Talk for 2020 was presented by Daniel Feldman, who described how his company, searCH4power, is deploying an innovative approach using methane from oil fields (which otherwise would be flared) to power bitcoin mining.  In addition to describing the current status of natural gas flaring and bitcoin mining, Daniel also shared insights on the challenges of establishing a new business venture.

After graduating with a BA in Soviet Studies from Trinity College, Daniel got his law degree from Boston University and a Master of Laws in Security and Financial Regulation from Georgetown University.  His career includes work with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Ernst & Young, Yukos Oil Company in Moscow, and a number of start-ups.  Daniel, a big baseball fan, also had a 10-year run selling hot dogs at Boston’s Fenway Park, and was the pitching coach for the Soviet National team in the early 1990’s.

To learn more about meeting the power needs of bitcoin mining from an energy source that would be otherwise wasted – click here

Contact Daniel Feldman:  daniel@search4power.io

Climate Academy of Risk and Opportunity, or Climate CARO

Our third Business and Energy talk for 2020, presented in April, was by Dr. Jan Dash. Dr. Dash has founded an initiative, Climate CARO, to motivate graduate-level training of “Climate Change Risk and Opportunity Officers” by universities and practitioners. Proposed competencies as a “job description” are in the core areas of risk management, climate change basics, and the intersection of risk and climate. Some topics in these core areas are business and financial risk, climate mitigation and impacts, economics, policy, scenario analysis, data, communications, and the Sustainable Development Goals. The emphasis of opportunities in the transition to a future renewable economy is key.

Dash sees businesses as critical contributors in dealing with the challenge of climate change, mostly because of their potential ability to attract the trillions of dollars of investment capital that will be required. He believes that businesses, which are gradually becoming more aware of the climate risks and opportunities that they will face in the years ahead, will soon demand the skills being proposed by the Climate CARO. At present, such cross-disciplinary graduate-level programs are rare. Dash envisions an umbrella consortium that helps businesses and universities partner in the development of specific programs.

Jan Dash is the Editor of the Encyclopedia of Climate Change, to be published by World Scientific (2020).   Jan’s book has a chapter on “Climate Change Risk Management”. He sees climate change as the outstanding survival and ethical issue of our time, with substantial opportunities inherent in its solution.

He has had a wide-ranging career, including extensive experience in assessing climate change issues.

  • He did the math behind the Bloomberg Carbon Clock, and is the Managing Editor for the Climate Portal at climate.uu-uno.org. He also wrote the popular one-liner refutations of climate contrarian fallacies.
  • He completed a 30-year career as a leader in quantitative finance and risk management. His positions included Head of Quant Risk Analytics at Bloomberg LP, Director at Citigroup/Salomon Smith Barney, and V.P. Manager at Merrill Lynch. He was an Adjunct Professor at the Courant Institute and Visiting Research Scholar at Fordham U.
  • He was Directeur de Recherche at the Centre de Physique Théorique (CNRS; Marseille, France). He published over 60 scientific papers in professional journals.
  • He has a BS from Caltech, and a PhD in theoretical physics from U.C. Berkeley.

To learn more about the Climate Change Academy of Risk and Opportunity – click here

Contact Jan Dash: climate.caro@gmail.com 

Putinomics:  Russia’s Energy Strategy amid Low Oil Prices

Our fourth Business and Energy Talk for 2020 was presented by Dr. Chris Miller, a scholar of Russia who teaches at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts. He also is affiliated with the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Miller explained that, ever since Vladimir Putin first came to power 20 years ago, he has had a laser focus on sound economic policy. The “Three Pillars of Putinomics” have been:

  1. Sound microeconomic management,
  2. High pensions and social payments to keep influential groups happy, and
  3. Let the private sector work in certain non-political sectors.

But there is a huge caveat to the third pillar: it does not apply to the energy sector, which provides the Russian government with the bulk of its income. This heavy hand of the Russian government on the energy sector not only has implications for Russia’s economy, but geopolitical implications as well.

Chris Miller is assistant professor of international history at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and co-director of the school’s Russia and Eurasia Program. He is author of Putinomics: Power and Money in Resurgent Russia (2018) and The Struggle to Save the Soviet Economy (2016).   He has previously served as the associate director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy at Yale, a lecturer at the New Economic School in Moscow, a visiting researcher at the Carnegie Moscow Center, a research associate at the Brookings Institution, and as a fellow at the German Marshall Fund’s Transatlantic Academy. He received his Ph.D. and M.A. from Yale University and his B.A. in history from Harvard University.

To learn more about how Russia’s energy sector has been managed – and the potential challenges that lie ahead – click here

Contact Chris Miller – at Christopher.miller@tufts.edu or www.christophermiller.net 

“The State of the Equity and Commodity Markets from Mid-Feb 2020 – The Message from the Markets’”          

Our fifth Business and Energy Talk for 2020 was presented on September 30 by Dr. Ehud I. Ronn, who is a Professor of Finance at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.  His research and teaching interests focus on the valuation of energy commodity-contingent securities.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2018, oil and natural gas provided 54% of the world’s energy.  (Coal provided 26%.)  The over-supplied energy markets were already under stress as 2020 began.  The dual pressures of a Russia-Saudi Arabia oil price war, and demand destruction from Covid-19, caused oil and gas prices to tumble further.  They still remain well below 2019 averages, and the oil and gas sector is in the midst of some of the most dramatic restructuring in decades.

How do we interpret what the markets are telling us now?  Dr. Ronn responded to this and other questions, sharing his expertise in matters of pricing, options, risk, and volatility.

In his presentation, Dr. Ronn addressed the informational content of both equity and commodity markets.  In the equity markets, he reviewed the level of stock prices as well as the changes in the S&P 500 VIX index, a measure of forward-looking volatility.  In transitioning to the oil market, he considered the level of oil prices throughout the crisis, as well as the information contained in the changing slope of the oil futures curve which depicts prices to distant maturities.  Further, the OVX index — the oil-price analogue to VIX in the equity markets — was examined both with respect to its level as well as the so-called “vol skew” which identifies the oil market’s concerns with directional changes, up as well as down, in the price of oil.  In these and other measures, Dr. Ronn sought to interpret what the commodity markets are telling us regarding the current time and, in a limited way, prospective changes.

Dr. Ronn began his studies in economics and management at the Technion in Israel, and earned his PhD in Finance from Stanford University.  He has held academic positions at Dartmouth College, Fordham University, the European Business School, the Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration, and the University of California, Berkeley.  He has also held executive positions at Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch (now a division of Bank of America.)

He is the author of over 40 published articles, over a dozen book chapters and practitioner publications, and seminar presentations almost too numerous to count.  In addition to other awards, Dr. Ronn was selected by Energy Risk Magazine to the “Energy Risk Hall of Fame” in 2004.

To learn more about the information contained in volatility indices and commodity-contingent securities, click here

Contact Dr. Ehud I. Ronn:  eronn@mail.utexas.edu

“The Power of Narrative:  Humanity’s Greatest Asset for Strengthening Civilizational Security”

Our sixth Business and Energy Talk for 2020 was presented on November 10 by Roger Sorkin.  Roger is the Founder and Executive Director of The American Resilience Project (ARP), a nonprofit organization using mission-driven film to build a more resilient society.

Sorkin’s work addresses his own frustration with seeing many critical issues reduced to two-dimensional political battlegrounds.  Using the media of film, he seeks to engage audiences across the fault lines, creating stories designed to unite people in a common purpose.  In particular, he believes that the highly politicized arena of energy and climate change is in fact a debate about the security of civilization – and that film, if it can shift the conversation to basic human needs, can play an important role in helping to build consensus for action.

Sorkin has an extensive background in film production, writing, editing, and directing.  Prior to founding ARP in 2017, Roger consulted with and created documentary and dramatic films for a wide range of nonprofit, academic and government institutions, including USAID and NATO. He currently serves on the Climate and Security Working Group at the Center for Climate and Security, on the Managed Retreat Expert Group with the American Society of Adaptation Professionals, and as a fellow with the Truman National Security Project.

Roger also teaches energy and environmental communication at the Fordham University Gabelli School of Business, and he has lectured at NASA, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and at the U.S. Naval Academy. Other ARP films in production include Nation in Transition, about the Navajo Nation energy transition away from coal, and the first of ARP’s new series, Food, Farms and Fashion, designed to strengthen farming livelihoods and food security through better soil health.

Sorkin has a BA in Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University, and a Master of Communications from Stanford University.

To learn more about how strategic narratives can help build the connective tissue for civil engagement – by employing empathy, cultural sensitivity, and emotional intelligence – click here

As a mission-driven nonprofit organization, American Resilience Project relies upon the generous support of philanthropists to accomplish its work. Please contact Executive Director Roger Sorkin to discuss film series and outreach campaign underwriting opportunities, or visit ARP’s website to make a tax-deductible donation.

Contact Roger Sorkin:  roger@amresproject.org