Emrgy: Reimagining Hydropower Technologies

Emrgy is expanding America’s hydropower portfolio with an exciting new twist on reliable, affordable, modular hydropower. The company has innovated hydropower to reduce new builds’ capital and regulatory challenges by making its turbines smaller and more modular.

Rich Powell’s TED Talk: How to Modernize Energy Permitting

Rich Powell, ClearPath CEO, recently delivered a TED Talk on modernizing the energy permitting process. Rich shines his quintessential optimism on the otherwise gloomy permitting outlook, and outlines a plan for Congress to expedite project development and improve the burdensome judicial review process. There is no doubt the permitting system is slowing down America’s path to building more clean energy, and there’s no single national straightforward solution for our current permitting emergency, but it starts with all of us.

Watch Rich Powell’s TED Talk below:

Carbon Management's Role in Addressing Climate Change | COP28

ClearPath CEO Rich Powell joined Axios Publisher Nicholas Johnston on the sidelines of COP28 for a conversation on carbon management solutions.

Antora Energy: Thermal Batteries Revolutionizing Industrial Decarbonization

Roughly one-third of global emissions come from the manufacturing sector—more than electricity, agriculture, or transportation. By 2030, industrial facilities are expected to be the top source of U.S. emissions, too, exceeding those from both power plants and vehicles.

If we want to meaningfully reduce carbon dioxide emissions around the world using American technology — the industrial sector is a great place to focus.

Antora Energy has developed a way to store thermal energy and use it to deliver on-demand, zero-carbon industrial heat and power. Learn more from this video in less than four minutes!

Today, manufacturers have to generate a lot of heat and use a lot of fossil generated power for their process. Antora’s thermal batteries eliminate emissions from the equation.

You’re probably familiar with how to store energy using battery technology. And you may also know that the market for long-duration, grid-scale battery storage is growing rapidly.

The problem is, most batteries are too expensive to supply round-the-clock heat and power. There are also supply chain challenges associated with critical minerals like lithium and cobalt, which are key materials for many batteries.

Antora solves these problems using carbon blocks—the same blocks used in steel furnaces and aluminum smelters. The simplicity of this approach cuts out a lot of the complexity and need for critical minerals, eliminating the supply chain challenges that threaten conventional batteries.

In fact, of all the material options for thermal storage, carbon blocks may be the most energy dense, simplest, and lowest cost.

Antora’s thermal battery can store 15 megawatt hours in the footprint of a shipping container—that’s 5 times more than a Lithium-ion battery.

Antora’s thermal batteries take excess solar and wind energy not needed for the grid, and use it to heat blocks of carbon until they’re glowing hot — think of the glow from your toaster when the coils heat up. Then they discharge that heat to customers, on-demand, at temperatures up to 1500 degrees Celsius or higher.

We don’t recommend toasting bread at that temperature ... in fact, it’s hot enough to melt and manufacture products like steel and cement.

Antora’s batteries can also convert the energy from those hot carbon blocks into emissions-free electricity. They do this with what are called thermophotovoltaic cells and it’s part of what makes their technology so transformational. Solar photovoltaic cells capture light from the sun. Thermophotovoltaic cells capture light coming off hot objects, including, say, carbon blocks that are glowing hot. Some technologies offer zero-carbon heat, others zero-carbon power — this process does both.

Antora has the potential to change the way large industrial companies generate heat and power, providing a zero-emissions alternative at prices even cheaper than options available today.

If we want to bring more manufacturing of heavy industrial products back to America, lowering costs is the most important thing we can do. And if we want to solve the global climate challenge, using American clean energy innovation is better than alternatives coming from China or Russia.

Antora’s technology is a win-win, and will put us on a clear path toward lowering our carbon emissions.

Pipelines are Fundamental for Reaching Climate Goals

If the U.S. wants to reach its emissions reduction goals, a diverse mix of energy solutions is needed – including hydrogen and carbon capture. However, we'll need a huge buildout of pipeline infrastructure to get that hydrogen and captured carbon where it needs to go. In addition to necessity, we also know that these pipelines are safe, with some of the strongest safety records of all energy transmission systems. ClearPath CEO Rich Powell explains why pipelines are so important and why we need more of them to solve the climate challenge.

The Carbon Capture Game Changer

Innovative technology from carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) developer NET Power could change everything about clean energy development in the U.S. and around the world.

While capturing carbon emissions from a typical natural gas plant requires a ton of extra gear, NET Power’s solution is much simpler. A NET Power plant burns gas with pure oxygen, which produces just CO2 and water. That CO2 is used to turn the turbine – rather than steam, like a normal gas plant uses – and is recycled back into the combustor.

NET Power is focusing on commercialization and global deployment, and the first commercial-scale plants could begin operation in the near future. ClearPath CEO Rich Powell explains in-depth how NET Power’s game-changing technology works:

A Natural Gas Innovation Success Story from Public-Private Partnerships

Investing in clean energy innovation pays off. All major advances in new energy technology, from oil to nuclear energy to renewables, had serious government support in their early stages – even the hydraulic fracturing revolution that caused the natural gas boom. All of these have led to American energy independence. Early-stage government support launched a $100 billion annual market. Not a bad return.

We often hear about public-private partnerships in the clean energy space, and for good reason. Hydraulic fracturing is one of the biggest success stories on this front — thanks to research, development, and deployment efforts supported by the Department of Energy (DOE), a breakthrough made by a Texas entrepreneur in the 1970s has become the most affordable source of 24/7 power in America.

George Mitchell figured out how to break up shale rocks to release the natural gas stuck inside. This process, known as hydraulic fracturing, initially got off the ground with support from DOE, which cost-shared research, development and demonstrations in the 1970s and 1990s, as well as tax credits from the 1980s to early 2000s.

Combined-cycle natural gas turbines now produce 24/7 reliable, affordable power. That early stage investment and production tax credit, together more than $10 billion, both expired as the technology matured. Now we have a $100 billion annual shale gas market in America, and saw emissions lower by 20% in the U.S. between 2005-2020.

There are many parts of our energy and industrial system where we don’t yet have a cheaper clean alternative — which is why we need to continue the innovation we’re already doing — but much more is needed.

Clean Hydrogen Finds New Energy Markets

Today, hydrogen is mainly used as a chemical in industry for oil refining and fertilizer production, but it has the potential to be another player in the clean energy innovation game. Like electricity, hydrogen is a carrier for energy from any source to virtually any end use, and it is made in a variety of ways that are usually simplified into colors. The smallest element on the periodic table could unlock some of the biggest energy challenges — electricity grid resilience, energy storage, and industrial decarbonization.


Clean Steel Innovation Boosting American Manufacturing

At ClearPath, reducing power-sector emissions has been our primary focus, but we added the industrial sector to our portfolio — going from tackling a quarter of U.S. carbon emissions to half. Several American steel companies are already working to decarbonize the steel manufacturing process through innovation. Supporting them with good policy will have huge impacts.


The Missing Market Signal to the Clean Energy Puzzle

Energy sector innovation and broader efforts to address climate change should resemble the best of the tech start-ups in the U.S.: fast, disruptive, exciting and good for consumers. But the complexity of the energy tax code and market can stymie American ingenuity.

A new bipartisan bicameral bill championed by top Finance Committee Republican Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Finance Committee climate hawk Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), as well as House Ways and Means Committee members Reps. Tom Reed (R-NY) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) – especially when added to the recent suite of bipartisan proposals to right-size the U.S. innovation engine and regulatory code – could be a major missing financing piece of the clean energy innovation puzzle.

Drawbacks of existing energy tax code

Tax approaches to date have suffered from a few serious drawbacks.

This Energy Sector Innovation Credit, or ESIC, would update the energy portion of the tax code by allowing cutting-edge technologies to gain commercial viability and upend the status quo without distorting the free market.

How ESIC works

First, ESIC takes a technology inclusive approach. This means that eligible new sources of power can span the full gamut of tools. From a new coal or gas power plant that can capture and store its carbon emissions, to an advanced nuclear reactor, to next generation batteries that store excess power from wind, solar and other renewable generation.

Eligible Technologies Can Represent the Full Gamut of Clean Energy Tools

Importantly, new power plants couldn’t qualify if they were also receiving the hodge-podge of other incentives already on the books. But, ESIC would be a permanent feature of the tax code, continuing to exist even after these other credits expire.

Second, the credit is set up to provide the appropriate level of support for a new technology at each stage of development. Developers have the option of an investment tax credit (ITC) or a production tax credit (PTC), providing financing options on a project by project basis.

For example, if the technology is brand new, it will pay out at 60 percent of whatever a plant earns selling power or at 40 percent of the investment necessary to move the project forward.

In the case of the emerging energy technology production credit option, that means that if the market values power at $100 in 1 hour, and the plant meets that demand, the incentive pays out at $60 for that hour. On the other hand, if the market only values power at $10 during an hour, which might occur when temperatures are moderate, it would only pay out at $6 during that hour. At times when there is an oversupply of power and additional megawatt hours are valued at zero, the incentive would pay out nothing at all. In other words, ESIC differs from the credits of old by working with markets, not against them.

AND by paying more to technologies that can respond to market signals, ESIC will drive innovation to the most flexible clean power sources.

Third and finally, ESIC is designed to automatically sunset for each new technology. The legislation would set up four tiers of early market penetration — or market penetration level (MPL) — based on the technologies’ share of national power generation, evenly dividing the space from 0 to 3% of national power generation. Within each tier, a developer would have the option to choose either this emerging energy technology production credit, or the investment tax credit. Both the production tax credit and the investment tax credit start high, at 60% and 40%, respectively, and then decline as the technology gains market share.

This built in ramp down automatically weans each technology off of government support. Then, the technology will either thrive on the marketplace on its own, or developers will experiment with other new technologies

For example, if the technology is new, still making less than 0.75% of total national electricity generation, it will pay out as 60% of whatever someone earns selling the energy. That means that, if the market values electricity at $10 / MWh at a given time, and you are able to meet that demand, the incentive would pay out a maximum of $6 for that MWh. And in times where there’s an oversupply of power into the market and electricity is valued at $0 or less, the incentive would not pay out anything at all.

The Missing Clean Energy Innovation Puzzle Piece

ESIC would be a market-based solution in the truest sense because the incentive is designed to reward the most flexible clean power sources – the ones that can respond to market signals to provide power. We already have two terrific sources of low-cost intermittent clean power in wind and solar, and they’re getting cheaper every year. But we have very limited access to flexible 24/7 clean power than can ramp up and down when we need it. ESIC is designed to incentivize innovators to develop those flexible clean power sources like advanced nuclear reactors, carbon capture technology, energy storage or geothermal.

This tax code fix complements a series of bipartisan bills that could turbocharge clean power innovation. That includes refocusing federal-private sector energy research development and demonstration across major low-emission energy sources, while also recognizing that we need a soup to nuts investment – from early stages all the way through demonstration and commercialization.

There is a larger puzzle that is being pieced together to firm up development and deployment of technologies that are both cleaner and reliable and can help the U.S. take hold of the global technology market, while reducing both U.S. and global emissions. ESIC is a financing mechanism that could be a corner piece of that puzzle.