It’s possible to pick the major technologies which will support 100% renewables now

As the grid decarbonizes and everything electrifies over the coming decades, a key part of the end game is electricity storage. However, it’s not a prerequisite to getting started, otherwise we wouldn’t have been building as much wind, solar and, in the case of China, hydroelectric generation as we have been for the past decade or two.

Chart of currently deployed grid storage courtesy PNNL
Chart of currently deployed grid storage courtesy PNNL
Chart of currently deployed grid storage courtesy PNNL

At present, there’s a lot more grid storage than most people realize, over 170 GW of deliverable power. Almost the entirety of it is pumped hydro storage, built mostly to give nuclear and coal plants something to do at night and the vast…

Vehicle-to-grid visions such as VW’s fail to account for significant barriers to use, but demand management will be strong

Volkswagen (not Voltswagen after all, sadly) is creating some hype recently with its announcement that its Modularer E-Antriebs-Baukasten (MEB) platform will include vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capabilities starting in 2022. There’s only one problem with that: the company is probably 15 years early.

It’s not that I don’t think the rolling stock of batteries won’t be useful and used for vehicle to grid applications, I just think that V2G specifically is a late-stage decarbonization lever and requires very significant numbers before utilities will be interested. Other opportunities provided by vehicle batteries will be exploited and of value much earlier.

I see the…

Two of them are exceptionally rare and mortality is too slow

Australian climate change deniers
Australian climate change deniers
Australian climate change deniers

There are four paths out of climate change denial, and only two of them are likely to be taken by more than the tiniest fraction of deniers.


Deniers skew old, much older than the rest of the populace. So many of them will die denying, but still, they’ll be dead and their science denial will die with them.

From architect’s day-to-day tools to sophisticated digital twin simulation to insight

Imagine if the architecture of buildings was designed from the beginning to aid occupants to get to know one another, to become acquaintances and possibly friends, to look out for one another. The benefits can be remarkable. In public health and social sciences, the evidence is clear that mental and physical health are improved by social interaction. Simply saying “Hello” to someone can improve their day and their health.

If you are an architect or a developer focused on architectural solutions, you have an opportunity to help shape this.

Cutaway of a multi-unit residential building with annotation of the social syntax Human Studio has developed
Cutaway of a multi-unit residential building with annotation of the social syntax Human Studio has developed
Cutaway of a multi-unit residential building with annotation of the social syntax Human Studio has developed

As we move out of our isolation due to COVID-19 and…

Aquamation is something to put on your kick-the-bucket list

Conversations about death now start with Facebook.

That was possibly the oddest insight I’ve gained from a couple of conversations in the past year. Sharon Hartung, one of my former bosses at the global tech giant we used to work for, is now the founder of Your Digital Undertaker. Her firm deals with the messy reality that passing in the digital age includes a lot of passwords, accounts, and odd legal conditions that require attention in the way that property and pets used to.

Your Digital Undertaker cover
Your Digital Undertaker cover
Image courtesy Your Digital Undertaker

Sharon probably extended the strategic side of my brain more than anyone I’ve ever dealt with…

Roughly $4 billion annually is spent by the US alone securing nuclear generation

The nuclear industry requires, but doesn’t pay much of the price of, several overlapping layers of security on its international and national supply chains, generation sites, and waste management. It’s spread across a hard to fathom number of budget lines, and there doesn’t appear to have been any attempt to consolidate the costs prior to this article. This was covered recently in a CleanTech Talk with Paul Werbos, formerly with the US National Science Foundation, and he agreed that the costs were large and mostly under the radar.[1]

Per reactor annual costs appear to be in the range of $50…

Upstream and refinery emissions must be priced as well

For the past few months, I’ve been digging into the implications of Canada’s recently announced $170 CAD per ton of CO2 carbon price cap, something the country will move toward annually in $10 and $15 increments before reaching it in 2030. One focus has been Alberta’s electrical grid, where the higher carbon price will radically change the economics of natural gas vs renewables. …

92% of hydrogen used in refineries and fertilizers will diminish radically

Hydrogen demand per year, courtesy of IEA

A tremendous amount of attention in governmental and traditional media circles is being given to the promise of a “hydrogen economy”. In general, traditional media and its journalists are non-technical, so coverage tends to follow along with the press releases from the fossil fuel industry and major automotive players who are continuing to try to push the rope of fuel cell, light vehicles up hill.

Governments are putting billions into the promise of the hydrogen economy, prodded by oil and gas lobbyists, as pointed out in CleanTechnica and other sites in different pieces recently. Germany is committing $10.76 billion. Canada…

Quebec and Alberta lithium resources are a tale of two extraction challenges

Map courtesy Institute of the Americas and the Payne Institute of the Colorado School of Mines

Lithium was once used to treat perceived mental health challenges, and now its availability or lack thereof is making markets swing. In the 1950s, Canada was a player in the international lithium market, with a mine in Quebec providing tons of the salt, which then failed as the health market failed. Fast forward to 2021, and lithium is a core component of the electrification of transportation, in all of our electronic gadgets and a lesser component for grid storage.

Canada has significant lithium reserves underground in Quebec and western Canada. …

Biden and Carney identify four overlapping major crises, but the CPC is mostly silent on the major issues of the day

In March of 2021, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, with climate change accelerating, a decade after the sub-prime mortgage crisis exposed deep flaws in the global economy and after the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) had been out of power for six years and counting, they held a policy convention. International headlines were devoted to their rejection of acceptance of climate change and the need for action as an element of their policy. But it’s worth looking at the full set of principles and those devils that the headline 22 principles elide. …

Michael Barnard

Chief Strategist, TFIE Strategy Inc. Business and technical future-proofing. Top Writer Quora since 2013. CleanTechnica, Forbes, Quartz+ more. In 4 books.

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