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"Is the Mass Market Holding us Back in Energy Innovation?"


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"Is the Mass Market Holding us Back in Energy Innovation?" …

"Is the Mass Market Holding us Back in Energy Innovation?"

A talk for IEEE, Austin by Joel Greenberg,
June 2010

In this talk, I take on the requirement by many status quo energy commentators that new technologies must scale in order for them to be considered as solutions to our energy problems.

It's my belief that they use the argument to actually damp innovation and therefore, retain their status quo position.

For example, gasoline didn't scale when it was emerging from being just a waste product in the second half of the 1800's. Indeed, the gasoline engine didn't scale when car designers in the 1890's, 1900's, and 1910's were choosing between gasoline, diesel, steam, or batteries for propulsion.

If scale was the main requirement for bringing the gasoline engine into the market in the early 1900's, we may still be driving Stanley Steamers in 2010.

In the talk, I discuss appropriate analogies from computers and telecom that may be useful to apply to energy. Looking back over the past 30 years, we can see times when the status quo was clearly about to change, even though the change wasn't so clear for those in the industry at that time. I argue that because of the confluence of economics, huge innovation in energy that hasn't been seen in a hundred years, and cultural factors that contribute to behavior change, we're almost at one of those inflection points in history.

The main idea is the future doesn't have to be like the present. With a combination of technology, economics, policy, and behavior change, how we use and produce energy in the next 10-30 years could be somewhat to significantly different than how we do so today.

To begin the presentation, I asked this simple question, "How many of you think that we have the best possible energy system today?"

It's a nice way to kick off the discussion.

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  • 1. Is the Mass Market Holding Us Back in Energy Innovation? Joel Greenberg [email_address] 512-736-1835
  • 2. Texans for a Sound Energy Policy Alliance
  • 3. Quick Intro to Energy
  • 4. Q: From what country does the US import the most oil? a) Saudi Arabia b) Nigeria c) Canada
  • 5. Q: What's the percentage of US electricity generated by oil? a) 30% b) 20% c) 10% d) 2%
  • 6. Q: The main electrical storage technology currently used by electrical utilities is: a) large LiON batteries b) large lead acid batteries c) large capacitors d) pumped hydro
  • 7. Q: There's a “Moore's law” of energy: a) True b) False
  • 8. All Energy Is Political Energy = Tech + Policy + $$
  • 9. Mass is the DNA of the Existing Energy System
  • 10. Oil is a Transportation Problem
  • 11. Electricity is an “ Everything Else” Problem
  • 12.  
  • 13. Texas Electricity Generation: 10/08 to 10/09 Source: PUCTX
  • 14. The existing electric grid is like radio networks of the 1920's
  • 15. Electricity is a Steam Punk World 95L = 1 kw-hr
  • 16. Source: American Energy Innovation Council, NSF
  • 17. Source: American Energy Innovation Council
  • 18. Source: Stephen Chu
  • 19.  
  • 20. Status Quo: - We love hydrocarbons - No one wants less - I don't see people changing - More nukes, now - Renewables suffer from terminal intermittency
  • 21. What's the one question everyone asks of energy?
  • 22. Will it Blend?
  • 23. Will it Blend? Scale
  • 24. If today in the energy industry was like other industries, what year would it be for them?
  • 25. 1976 for the Computer Industry
  • 26. It's 1980 for AT&T
  • 27. It's 1992 for The Internet
  • 28. A Goal
  • 29. A Goal “ Energy needs to be both cheap and clean.” – Bob Metcalfe
  • 30. Then Now - had to syncronize /w/ network - no storage - had to get permission - not syncronized - storage - anyone can connect Telecom Network
  • 31. Today Tomorrow? - have to syncronize /w/ network - no storage - have to get permission - not syncronized? - storage? - anyone can connect? Electrical Network
  • 32. Behavior Change
  • 33.  
  • 34.  
  • 35.  
  • 36. Opower: you vs. neighbors 3% savings.
  • 37. Home Energy Management Systems How much savings?
  • 38. Big, Bold Ideas
  • 39. Dr. Porche's electric car – 1900 For the first time in 100 years, utilities will compete with oil companys for transportation “fuel”. Electric motor vs ICE Been there, done that?
  • 40. Advantages of electric motors: - highly reliable - little maintenance - relatively small / can use more than one - can be designed for power or torque - little need for a heavy, complicated transmission - electrons can come from anywhere Chevy Volt Hybrid System
  • 41.  
  • 42.  
  • 43. Source: DOE
  • 44. $100 Hydrogen Fuel Cell Charger For Batteries
  • 45.  
  • 46.  
  • 47. - The future doesn't have to be like the present. - Scale should not be an initial gate keeper to new energy solutions. - To innovate, go where the incumbents are not. - Challenge the Status Quo in personal, professional, & political conversations What to do?
  • 48. Is the Mass Market Holding Us Back in Energy Innovation? Joel Greenberg [email_address] 512-736-1835