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  • Architectural Digest hosts New Perspectives exhibition at Kronprinzenpalais, Berlin
  • aware_ partners with VAUST for EVER-CHANGING MANIFESTATION, a physical-digital spatial installation
  • The exhibition takes place from October 21 to 23
interior design

Berlin, September 14, 2022 –

New Perspectives, an exhibition curated by the international design authority Architectural Digest, will take place this upcoming October 21 to 23. Groundbreaking German interior designers, design enthusiasts and creatives will be gathered at the Berliner Kronprinzenpalais to re-think the spaces of tomorrow. 

Celebrating the universalization of environment, innovation, and design, aware_ has joined forces with VAUST (in cooperation with artist collective grotesk.group), introducing the power of symbiotic physical and digital design solutions in their installation EVER-CHANGING MANIFESTATION. The creatives prove once again that the key to innovation is “looking at the world from a different perspective“.

“We are more than grateful to have aware_ as a partner for this installation. Together we are turning interior design into a thought experiment that looks at the coherence between people and the environment in a digital yet always physical world of tomorrow.” – David Kosock, VAUST

The increasing importance of code, artificial intelligence, generative art and a general translation of our environment into a “digital reality” is implemented by David Kosock and Joern Scheipers from VAUST and Harald Schaack, Denis Sokolowski and Tim Hunkemöller from grotesk.group in their installation and furthermore encourages a change of view.

“For aware_, sustainability and aesthetics go hand in hand. The idea of a design is integral to sustainability and involves innovation, zeitgeist and a high degree of aesthetics. We are pleased to have found VAUST as a partner who shares this idea with us.” – Kim N. Fischer, co-founder of aware_

Tickets for the exhibition are available at the following link: https://www.ad-magazin.de/newperspectives


About aware_ 
The Berlin-based start-up aware_ THE PLATFORM gives companies, politics, business and individuals a schematic overview as well as authoritative impulses on one platform to provide transparency and guidance in sustainability. With the aware_ Academy, the start-up offers a digital training program for employees and interest groups that creates qualitative touch points in the areas of sustainability and change management. www.aware-theplatform.com

About VAUST
VAUST is a Berlin-based design studio founded in early 2017 by Joern Scheipers and David Kosock. The company combines interior design, object design and creative direction. It is the result of a ten-year friendship and three years of thinking and designing together for different projects. The founders both studied and worked in different fields such as architecture, fashion design, advertising and hospitality. Today they particularly benefit from these experiences and combine them in their studio to create a multidisciplinary way of working and a holistic approach to design. From residential and retail to hospitality and corporate spaces – VAUST is dedicated to unconventional thinking, distinctive aesthetics, artistic design, efficient planning and precise execution. www.vaust.studio

About grotesk.group
grotesk.group was founded in 2022 by Harald Schaack, Denis Sokolowski and Tim Hunkemöller. The artist collective specializes in merging multiple, diverse technologies in their mostly disruptive and always contemporary digital artworks. In addition to working for major corporates such as Mercedes, Adidas or Zalando, their works are on display on various digital platforms and even find their way into print to renowned formats such as Sleek Magazine. www.grotesk.group

Join us on our mission to create a more sustainable society and subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.  

If you have any questions, please contact: bepartof@tobeaware.de

To learn more about Berlin Fashion Week 2022 and the city’s love for sustainable fashion, aware_ sat down with Berliner and green fashion expert Cherie Birkner 

sustainable fashion

As the world heats up, sustainable fashion has also become a hot (and pressing) topic. It is now well known that the fast fashion industry contributes a great deal to the destruction of our ecosystems as well as climate change through its processes of production, consumption and disposal. The situation is summed up by Cherie Birkner, Berlin-based founder of Sustainable Fashion Matterz: 

According to Clean Clothes Campaign, we are producing about one hundred billion clothes a year. From these, about 70% are sold, of which on average only 20% are even worn regularly. With this calculation, we have a yearly surplus of 85 billion items of clothing! We do not need more new clothes. We have enough. 

Evidently, the global fashion industry begs a serious transformation. To coincide with Berlin’s second annual Fashion Week (BFW), aware_ is delving into BFW’s relationship with sustainability. And to get a clearer picture of the event and Berlin’s intimate relationship to conscious fashion, aware_ talked to photographer and sustainable fashion expert Cherie Birkner. Her platform Sustainable Fashion Matterz offers a comprehensive curation of sustainable brands, projects and industry leaders as well as educational information for the public about the complex issues around fashion and sustainability.  

sustainable fashion

aware_: Cherie, when did you decide to start Sustainable Fashion Matterz and why? 

Cherie Birkner: I was working as a creative director for a fast fashion brand, and I came to the point when I could no longer handle the contradiction with my values. For example, I would always buy second-hand before I would buy anything new while simultaneously going into an office to sell more and more of a product that nobody really needed with a price tag that made production practices extremely questionable. 
I felt the need to talk about problems in the fashion industry, so I quit my job and decided to become a photographer. I wanted to work with people that cared about the impact of the fashion industry. At the time, in 2017, I attended the Green Showroom (today’s Neonyt) to take portraits of these change-makers and tell their stories. By the end of the event, I had taken 60 portraits and realized that there are sustainable solutions to every consumer need people just do not know that they exist!  

aware_: Which designers are you most excited to see at BFW this year and why? 

Cherie Birkner: I am most excited about the ESTETHICA event that is featuring ten designers from Berlin and Ukraine including one of my favourites Melisa Minca who is a fun and provocative up-cycling designer. Also, Vladimir Karalef who I discovered last season showing a dead-stock capital collection. These designers and those featured at Fashion Revolution are mostly engaged in up-cycling materials and really working with what is already there. That is also a thing that changed for me over the years. Six years ago, it was the organic fair-trade t-shirt that was sustainable and now the situation is like this: we have enough stuff on the planet. So let us use what we have and re-purpose it.  

sustainable fashion

aware_: What makes Berlin the green capital of fashion? 

Cherie Birkner: If you look at BFW, you see that the focus is on designers and events that prioritize sustainability practices. For example, if you are a brand that uses new plastic sequins, you are simply not up with the times anymore. The events around fashion week go deeper, it is not just a fashion show where the model is walking down the catwalk and you do not know how anything is made. In contrast, 202030 – The Berlin Fashion Summit is all about sharing the latest knowledge to educate the public. Also, Berlin has a culture of people gifting their clothes on the street or exchanging them. The city is even investing in circular fashion projects such as the A-Gain Guide which maps out all of Berlin’s options for pre-owned items. 

aware_: What are the most innovative sustainable fashion trends that are here to stay? 

Cherie Birkner: I would like to answer this after attending the 202030 summit! One thing that I have seen is that brands are making their own resale platforms. High-end brands are taking ownership of their brand style while giving their own customers the opportunity to re-sell their own products to keep them in the loop or taking them back to recycle the clothes properly. I am also very interested in clothing rental services such as Kleiderei, Pool Berlin and Clothes Friends, which work very well in big cities where people want to try the pieces on location. 

– by Tina Ateljevic 

Fujitsu and aware_ look back on a successful year of partnership

Together, the two companies have mastered many successful projects

The collaboration continues with many exciting projects – including joint events and podcast episodes by aware_

partnership

Berlin, June 22, 2022 – Just over a year ago, Fujitsu entered into a partnership with aware_. For Fujitsu, then as now, it is an “important signal to employees and the market, to underline the company’s commitment to sustainability”.

“With its commitment to aware_ and the sustainable transformation, Fujitsu once again demonstrates the fundamental role that sustainability plays in its respective corporate strategies.” – Kim N. Fischer, Co-Founder of aware_ 

“aware_ is uniquely able to bring together the best people at the best times and places to share thoughts and projects for achieving sustainability in everyday life. The aware_ Summer Party was again the ultimate proof – what a joy and inspiration. You can’t help but have a head full of ideas on the way home.” – Anja Rothe, Business Transformation Manager Manufacturing and Automotive Central Europe at Fujitsu

Award-winning partnership
As part of the global Fujitsu Sustainability Contribution Awards, Fujitsu receives the Fujitsu Way Empathy Award for its partnership and collaboration with aware_. An international jury at Fujitsu has “rated” the joint work as highly valuable – both to further advance the sustainability mindset internally and to jointly enable the implementation of sustainability in the world. This award gives the partnership extreme visibility on the global Fujitsu stage, and thus future project opportunities and topics that go beyond D-A-CH and Europe.

Looking ahead
In June of this year, aware_ co-founder Lena Schrum joined Steffi Brauer, Head of Smart City at Fujitsu, on stage at a conference in Hamburg to talk about the transformation of the mobility industry.

The collaboration with aware_ Chief Awareness Officer Sascha Pallenberg will also continue this year: In addition to two planned podcast recordings for ecozentrisch, he will be a guest at the Fujitsu Booster Summit focusing on people, customer, sustainability curiosity and innovation.

Looking back
Countless joint performances and projects took place: At the aware_ Conference in November 2021, Jörn Nitschmann, Head of CE Manufacturing & Automotive, Fujitsu, gave a keynote on smart stadiums and how they can be a blueprint for a sustainable city. The online conference was attended by over 300 participants remotely.

In December 2021, Fujitsu hosted an aware_ Masterclass on the topic of “Making Sustainability the Core of Your Business”.

Furthermore, Lars Moscherosch, Sales Director Manufacturing & Automotive CE at Fujitsu, was featured in the aware_ Podcast series ecozentrisch in January 2022. Together with Sascha Pallenberg, he talked about the sustainable transformation at Fujitsu addressing, amongst others, UVANCE as well as Fujitsu’s innovations that create trust in society and thereby making the world more sustainable.

Two articles in the aware_ Magazine showcased Fujitsu’s various DX solutions and services, amongst others, for Smart Cities and Smart Sports Venues, for enabling a sustainable society.

A special guest and official partner was Fujitsu at this year’s summer party of aware_ in the new office premises in Marina Marina. With more than 80 colleagues, partners and friends, this afternoon was spent networking, celebrating and introducing aware_’s latest product, the aware_ Academy.


About aware_
 
The Berlin-based start-up aware_ THE PLATFORM gives companies, politics, business and individuals a schematic overview as well as authoritative impulses on one platform to provide transparency and guidance in sustainability. With the aware_ Academy, the start-up offers a digital training program for employees and interest groups that creates qualitative touch points in the areas of sustainability and change management. http://www.aware-theplatform.com/ 

About Fujitsu 
Fujitsu’s purpose is to make the world more sustainable by building trust in society through innovation. As the digital transformation partner of choice for customers in over 100 countries, Fujitsu’s 124,000 employees work to resolve some of the greatest challenges facing humanity. Their range of services and solutions draw on five key technologies: Computing, Networks, AI, Data & Security, and Converging Technologies, which Fujitsu brings together to deliver sustainability transformation. Fujitsu Limited (TSE: 6702) reported consolidated revenues of 3.6 trillion yen (US$ 32 billion) for the fiscal year that ended on March 31, 2022 and remains the top digital services company in Japan by market share. www.fujitsu.com

Join us on our mission to create a more sustainable society and subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.  

If you have any questions, please contact: bepartof@tobeaware.de

The German Design Awards celebrate its tenth anniversary this year. aware_ has taken a look at this year’s award winners and presents five exciting products and projects. 

For aware_, sustainability and aesthetics go hand in hand. A sustainable lifestyle does not have to be pursued with a raised forefinger, nor does it have to be pushed into a green corner. Sustainability includes innovation, zeitgeist, and a high degree of aesthetics. For the German Design Awards, outstanding design means providing answers to the challenges of our time and thinking into the future. Each year, an international jury of leading experts from all areas of design honors companies with pioneering products and projects in the fields of Excellent Product Design, Excellent Communications Design or Excellent Architecture. The internationally renowned prize is awarded by the German Design Council, the German brand and design authority, which was established as a foundation in 1953 on the initiative of the German Bundestag. It supports business in consistently achieving brand added value through design. This center for communication and brand management in the field of design includes not only business associations and institutions but also the content and brand managers of well-known companies; the membership of the German Design Council currently consists of more than 350 companies.

In addition, the German Design Council is an official partner of the New European Bauhaus Initiative – an EU foundation for a sustainable, aesthetic, and inclusive future. At the interface between art, culture, science and technology, the initiative aims to explore how our future living environments can be designed to make Europe climate neutral by 2050 as part of the European Green Deal. As part of the German Design Awards 2022, a jury will forward all projects considered for use as part of the New European Bauhaus to the initiative’s panel with a recommendation.

With their awarded products or projects, the participants demonstrate a high level of expertise in design innovation and a keen eye for the requirements of their own customers and the market. In addition to the main prize, there is also the Newcomer Awards – a unique award for young designers who attract attention through exceptional achievements and creative talent. For the award-winning young designers, the reputation of the prize and the international attention associated with it are particularly valuable. The German Design Council offers all finalists the opportunity to meet leading figures in the design-oriented business community in Germany at a series of exclusive events with its foundation members. This year, five finalists are nominated for the Newcomer Awards.  

The winners of the German Design Awards 2022 will be on display in the exhibition at the Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt am Main from February 11 to 27, 2022, and at www.german-design-award.com. 

Starting in February, there will be a curated online program dedicated to the evolution of design over the past ten years and inspired by the work of visionary designer and design theorist Horst Rittel. This year’s theme of the award is How Designers Think: How to Find Solutions to Those Challenges for which Rittel coined the term “Wicked Problems” with Melvin Webber in the 1960s. For Lutz Dietzold, Chief Executive Officer of the German Design Council, the further development of the award is particularly relevant: from digitalization to AI to sustainability, designers must find answers to current topics. 

aware_ has taken a look at this year’s award winners and presents five innovative projects:

design awards

Level 2 Charger 

The Level 2 Charger from Canoo, winner in the Energy category of Excellent Product Design, can be used in a home garage or industrial facility. Modular pegboard design allows it to be configured and endlessly expanded as a wall mount and freestanding version to meet individual needs and requirements. A product concept for urban mobility needs that is both modern and high quality.

wodtke samurai iClean 

The wodtke samurai iClean from Robert Beil, winner in the Energy category of Excellent Product Design, makes environmental conscious and low-emission heating with the almost CO2 neutral fuel wood possible. In addition, the stove has been awarded the Blue Angel. Comfort and user-friendliness are part of the high-quality standards. 

design awards

instagrid ONE max 

The world’s first portable 230V battery unit designed for professional use by designer Felix Fuchs of instagrid GmbH is the winner in the Energy category of Excellent Product Design. The shaping frame is protection for the Li-Ion unit and offers grip as well as stacking possibility. The battery provides grid-like power at 3600W continuous output as well as 2.1KWh of energy without direct emissions – enough for a day’s work. As many parts as possible were designed to be disassembled and then returned to the recycling process. This ensures the greatest possible reparability and thus maximum service life. In addition, recycled materials were used. 

UP! 

The Berlin department store built in 1977 by SIGNA Development Selection AG is the winner in the Eco Design category of Excellent Architecture. The shell was completely refurbished, raised, and opened with striking incisions on all sides and converted into a business location. The building has its own energy center, which generates thermal energy by means of heat exchangers in the sewer and recooling units on the roof. The conversion, while retaining the existing structure in combination with the innovative energy solution, makes the project particularly sustainable. 

design awards

Eco Village Rügen 

The three three-sided courtyards made of prefabricated wooden components, a design by STUDIO SUSANNE BRORSON, wins in the Eco Design category of Excellent Architecture. The layout of the buildings was tested using wind simulations. Following climate-adapted design principles of the Baltic Sea region, the ensemble creates modern sustainable architecture that ties in with the traditional local architecture. The village consists of a main residence and two adjacent barn buildings with vacation homes around a paved courtyard. Passive strategies for climate-smart building played an important role in the design of the three-sided courtyards; a triumph in design, the building lives in harmony with its beautiful surrounding landscape. 

by Marie Klimczak

A perfect storm of climate-related weather catastrophes, pandemic-related fossil fuel production bottlenecks, and an under-investment in infrastructure and renewable power has created the world’s latest global energy crisis.

Severe flooding in the heart of China’s coal country following drought conditions that hampered hydropower generation are adding to the nation’s energy woes, increasing existing supply shortages that stemmed from policy shifts and an industrywide slowdown.

Those coal constraints and a push to switch to natural gas, which is creating higher demand in the nation, is causing prices to spike around the world.

In Europe, those natural gas price spikes are compounded by the decommissioning of nuclear and coal power plants — and the depletion of existing natural gas stores following a particularly long winter across the region.

Add weaker than expected power generation from offshore wind farms in the region (and chicanery from Russia — Europe’s biggest natural gas supplier) and the world has created the perfect conditions for a modern-day energy crisis.

This fossil-fueled power crisis is coinciding with a profound need to accelerate the transition to zero emission sources of power to avoid future destabilizations of the world’s power supply and mitigate the climate emergency that threatens pretty much everything (so far this year, the US has been hit by 18 climate-related weather events that cost the nation over $18 billion).

And while critics blame low wind speeds for the UK’s energy crisis, there are several renewable-powered and zero emission technologies that are coming to market now whose development could prevent the kind of energy drought the world is now experiencing.

These days, potential solutions to the energy crisis abound, if nations would allocate the necessary resources to accelerate their development.

energy
© Shutterstock/Nortophoto

Long duration energy storage

From funding mega-batteries, to compressed air energy storage, to hauling big bricks or trains, there’s been a flood of money that’s gone in to finding ways to store renewable energy so it can be tapped when the wind ain’t blowing and the sun ain’t shining.

Through the dog days of summer and into the fall investors were at work pouring nearly $500 million into various long duration energy storage technologies.

One company, Energy Vault, is using renewable energy to move massive concrete blocks, storing electrical energy as potential energy that can be released when the blocks are moved. Set to list on the New York Stock Exchange later this year, Energy Vault has already completed one pilot project in Ticino, Switzerland with more on the way.

Meanwhile, big battery developers like EnerVenue — which is using the same energy storage technology that powers the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope — and Form Energy (launched by slew of battery industry veterans) are using novel chemistries to build storage devices that can hold hundreds of hours of energy.

In Form’s case, that involves converting iron to rust, then rust back into iron, discharging and charging the battery in the process. The company claims its battery can store electricity at a cost of roughly $6 per-kilowatt-hour, which is far less expensive than other metals.

Two other approaches are using molten salt and compressed air to store energy for long periods. At Malta, a company whose technology was spun out of Google’s moonshot factory, X, electrical energy is converted to thermal energy, which is stored in molten salt and a chilled liquid. A heat engine, powered by the temperature differential between the hot and cold substances, turns the thermal energy back into electricity.

Hydrostor, a developer of advanced compressed air technologies, also relies on a clever use of thermal energy as part of its storage solution. The company uses renewable energy to compress air in underground wells, but captures and separates the thermal energy that builds up when the air is compressed. A pool stores water next to the cavern that’s used to store the compressed air. When air is released water flows into the cavern, and when air is pumped into the cavern the water is pushed into the pool — maintaining the pressure on the air. The captured heat is combined with the air when it’s released providing more power for turbines.

And heat’s at the heart of the technology for both Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Antora Energy and Electrified Thermal Solutions out of Boston. Both are using superheated blocks to store energy at temperatures over 1,500°C, and then turn it back to electricity for the grid when needed.

Taken together, these are the kinds of technologies that the world needs to “fully retire thermal assets like coal and natural gas,” as Form Energy’s chief executive Mateo Jaramillo, the developer of Tesla’s Powerwall battery and veteran powertrain developer told The Wall Street Journal.

Utilities and independent power producers in the US are already preparing for the transition.

Vistra Corp. owns 36 natural-gas power plants, one of America’s largest fleets. It doesn’t plan to buy or build any more.

Instead, Vistra intends to invest more than $1 billion in solar farms and battery storage units in Texas and California as it tries to transform its business to survive in an electricity industry being reshaped by new technology.

“I’m hellbent on not becoming the next Blockbuster Video, ” Curt Morgan, the chief executive officer of natural gas power plant owner Vistra, told the Journal. “I’m not going to sit back and watch this legacy business dwindle and not participate.”

Next generation geothermal

Harnessing the heat that radiates from the center of the Earth is critical (or supercritical) for a clutch of startup companies that are offering a new way to generate power directly.

Their goal is to tap into the abundant resources of “the sun beneath our feet” using technologies borrowed — in many cases — from the oil and gas industry.

The potential for geothermal energy development is massive. The US government estimates that new technologies could generate “at least 5,157 gigawatts-electric for power generation purposes — nearly five times the total installed utility-scale electricity generation capacity in the US,” according to a report from the Department of Energy.

If the US just wanted to use these new technologies for heating and cooling, it could tap roughly 15 million terawatt-hours-thermal for controlling the climate of homes and businesses. Using geothermal district heating, the resources provide potentially enough heat to supply every home and commercial building in the US for the next 8,500 years.

The technological advances are coming to make this a reality. In September the Seattle-based company AltaRock Energy released the results of a new study showing that it could produce power for as little as 5 cents per kilowatt hour (that’s the levelized cost). Conventional geothermal would cost around 10 cents.

AltaRock’s SuperHot Rock geothermal could be one of the most significant developments in the energy business — if its pilot project, slated to come online in 2025 proves successful.

“Once proven in the field, SuperHot Rock geothermal resources will ultimately provide competitively priced, carbon-free power to far greater markets than can currently be reached by affordable geothermal power,” said Geoff Garrison, vice president of research and development at AltaRock, in a statement. “SuperHot Rock geothermal has the smallest environmental footprint of any renewable energy resource, sharply reduces the need for transmission infrastructure, and we believe it has the potential to meet a significant portion of global energy demand by 2050.”

If the AltaRock project is successful (and the company does still need to flip the switch on that first project), the implications for providing renewable power to the world are enormous. Nearly half of the world’s population could see their power come from SuperHot Rock geothermal using the tech AltaRock is developing. As drilling techniques improve, another 95% of the population could access the tech if companies can hit depths less than 20 kilometers below the Earth’s surface.

As the Clean Air Task Force wrote in a paper earlier this month, “SHR could provide competitive, zero-carbon, dispatchable power and could support zero-carbon hydrogen fuel production. It is one of the very few high-energy-density, zero-carbon resources that could replace fossil energy around the globe.”

Other companies are taking lessons from the oil and gas industry to create novel geothermal systems that don’t need to operate under the kind of high temperature and pressure that SuperHot Rock requires.

These are businesses like Sage Geosystems, Eavor, Fervo Energy, which are borrowing directional drilling techniques from the oil and gas industry to create new kinds of geothermal power assets. These closed loop systems can be developed in more places to expand the footprint for lower power geothermal production assets. Combining a few of these systems together could reach several megawatts — or even gigawatts — of power, according to the companies.

Tim Lattimer, the chief executive officer of Fervo, told TechCrunch earlier this year that his company intends to bring on “hundreds of megawatts of power in the next few years.”

Oceans, rivers, and tides

One of the newest ways to generate renewable power is a callback to one of the world’s oldest — finding ways to capture the energy from all of the water sloshing around the globe.

The International Renewable Energy Agency estimates that there’s hypothetically as much as 20,000 to 80,000 Terawatt hours of potential electricity generation in the silent seas waiting to be tapped from established technologies like offshore wind and newer tech including tidal stream and wave energy converters. Further on the horizon are ocean thermal energy conversion tech and companies generating power from the salinity gradient in the sea.

In all, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change set up by the United Nations believes that ocean-based mitigation options could reduce nearly 4 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2030 and 11 billion tons by 2050. That’s more than all of the emissions from coal-fired power plants worldwide or the total emissions from China (back in 2014).

The IPCC estimates that ocean power could slash the emissions gap by 21% between now and 2050.

The figure to the left provides emissions projections of various electricity supply technologies, with ocean energy resulting in the least lifecycle emissions.

Solving the problem of capturing ocean power requires rugged systems that can handle one of the most harsh environments on earth. For many investors it’s been too difficult to see their way clear to financing new technology focused on the ocean.

“Stay away from wave power,” one investor said. “Too expensive, and too corrosive an environment.”

CalWave is one company that’s diving headfirst into solving the problem. With a novel device that already has backing from the Department of Energy, the company has launched a pilot of its first device off the coast of California in the waters near San Diego.

“Wave energy devices are no different than wind turbines or other hydro turbines. It’s a kinetic device that captures a renewable resource to produce electricity. At the highest systems engineering level, the functions to make a technology viable are the same,” said Marcus Lehmann, the chief executive of CalWave in a statement announcing the company’s pilot. “For us, capital efficiency means that any system must be able to reduce primary loads from storm waves just like pitch and yaw control, a critical feature of our modern wind turbines.”

Beyond its San Diego project, CalWave has been tapped as one of several companies to participate in the Oregon wave power demonstration facility called PacWave.

That 25 megawatt test facility is the first of its kind in the US and a significant step forward for an industry that has been adrift, because of technical challenges and a lack of support.

It’s in stark contrast to Europe and the UK, where marine power test facilities at Orkney in Scotland have been operating since 2003 and have yielded startups like Mocean Energy and Orbital Marine Power.

“We need time and reliable long-term federal financial support to get more devices in the water,” Oregon State University’s Bryson Robertson told CNBC.

“The lack of ability for marine energy systems to quickly, repeatedly and cost effectively test is holding the industry back,” he said. That means sites like PacWave are “incredibly important.”

Marine energy resources around the US is around 2,300 Terawatt hours per year, or about 57% of the total power generated in the US in 2019, according to the DOE. With the addition of Pacific and Caribbean island nations that number rises to 6,400 Terawatt hours of power. That’s part of the opportunity that CalWave, and other businesses including Columbia Power Technologies, and Oscilla Power.

There’s more power waiting to be tapped in the rivers that traverse North America and Natel Energy is looking to spin up its technology to capture it.

The company, which recently raised $20 million from investors, is working with the hydropower project developer, Nelson Energy, to install its new hydropower generators on sites along the Red River in Louisiana that’s controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers.

For this project, Natel is planning to install between 60 and 90 hydro turbines to retrofit three existing dams and add 80 megawatts of renewable power to the grid.

The company estimates that’s enough energy to power roughly 35,960 average US homes.

energy
© Flickr/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Let’s go nuclear

Talking about nuclear power is inarguably a great way to start an argument in climate circles.

But, if the goal is reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, consider this: last year the US power sector emitted about 1 pound of CO2 for every kilowatt hour of energy produced, meanwhile, emissions from power in France were around one-tenth of a pound. The reason? Nuclear power.

French President Emmanuel Macron is doubling down on nuclear power in the country in the face of the current energy crisis, as the Financial Times reported.

He committed that the country will invest the equivalent of $1.2 billion in nuclear power by the end of the decade.

“The number one objective is to have innovative small-scale nuclear reactors in France by 2030 along with better waste management,” Macron said. “We will continue to need this technology.”

France isn’t the only nation looking to exploit the nuclear option. Korea, Russia, and the UAE are all on board for massive nuclear projects. In the UAE the Barakah reactor will provide up to 25% of the nation’s power once all the switches get flipped on the four reactors which will provide upwards of 5 gigawatts of energy.

“The Russians have been going crazy,” one energy insider familiar with the nuclear industry said. “There are factories where they’re building out reactor vessels.” These are floating 32 megawatt power plants on barges that they can bring to port towns in places like Siberia and provide power.*

Despite setbacks, the US is also forging ahead with a new nuclear program thanks to companies like the Bill Gates-backed TerraPower, X-Energy, and earlier-stage startups like Oklo, which is hoping to build a very small test reactor at the Idaho national laboratory.

Both TerraPower and X-Energy have received awards from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, which will see the government split the cost with utilities to build new nuclear power plants.

By directly splitting the cost with companies, government hopes to avoid the obstacles that have snarled plans for the first construction of a new reactor in the US. Eight of the 36 utilities that were intended to support the construction of a reactor from NuScale Power backed out of the deal.

NuScale is still moving ahead with plans to sell its reactors — in Poland.

With their new reactor designs NuScale, TerraPower and X-Energy are all trying to do the same thing —make the process of building nuclear reactors repeatable, safe, and economical.

These new reactor designs are inherently more efficient and safer than earlier reactor models, said the industry expert.

“The idea behind this… when you build the first ones, you’re setting up the infrastructure to build hundreds more behind the first ones,” he said. Companies expect their first reactors to come online and be generating power in the next five to seven years.

Unlike the massive reactors built in the 60s and 70s, the new models can be mass produced where businesses just set up a production line and begin making them. Companies get production licenses for the plant to make the reactors and that plant can supply multiple power plants, according to the expert.

With enough political will, the US could decarbonize its entire electricity sector using nuclear power — just like the French (who were able to basically remove carbon from their energy sector in 15 years).

Looking further into the future, there’s an even brighter vision for a nuclear future that’s waste free. Private investors are pouring hundreds of millions dollars into companies developing fusion reactors. These technologies hold promise, the first reactors won’t be online until the end of the decade (at the earliest).

All of the above

None of these technologies alone will provide a smooth transition to a fully emission-free economy, but some combination of all of them have to be part of the solution.

Investors may quibble over specifics around the viability of some of these solutions (one investor, referencing Energy Vault, told me you’d “need a shit tonne of blocks and space to actually store energy”), but they’re in agreement that all of them are vital.

Some of these, like wave and ocean energy, have long been seen as uneconomic and may only work in niche applications. Others, like Form, Antora, and the energy storage applications broadly require renewable energy inputs to be successful (and clean).

The critical factor is providing the funding to see these technologies piloted and de-risked as quickly as possible. Which, for all of the disappointments that may come from the watered down infrastructure legislation that may finally make its way out of Congress, is a lever that government and private industry can still pull.

“Technologies are great ,” the investor said, “but then a lot of this will be subject to public perception, location, and utility funding which can only really justify investments in de-risked tech that lowers total electricity cost.”

*An earlier version of this piece quoted an industry insider who said that the Russian floating reactors were 200 to 300 MW. Those reactors are land-based and are under development. They have yet to be deployed.

by Foot.Notes by FootPrint Coalition

climate

The FootPrint Coalition, founded by Robert Downey Jr, is a coalition of investors, donors, and storytellers committed to spreading the word about technologies to restore the planet. It acts as a hub where leading scientists can share their research and engage directly with their audience to support it.
With collective inspiration, imagination, and ingenuity, the FootPrint Coalition aims to achieve the overarching goal of restoring the environment. That is why aware_ is pleased to feature two articles from FootNotes, a new publication from the FootPrint Coalition.

For more entertaining and informative content about technologies to restore our planet, visit: https://www.footprintcoalition.com

Looking at a future full of wildfires, floods, droughts, hurricanes, tornados, derechos, and “hundred year” freezes once every ten years or less, a generation of workers are turning their attention to address the climate crisis.

In ways large and small, climate jobs are becoming more desirable and the workforce is more willing to adapt to a changing climate.

A recent study from Pew Research showed that in North America about 75% of Canadians and Americans said they were willing to make changes to reduce the effects of climate change. And the general view from the U.S. is that the country is failing to adequately address the climate emergency.

That’s why Gen-Z is stepping up, according to reporting in The Guardian.

“Once you learn how damaged the world’s ecosystems are, it’s not really something you can unsee,” says Rachel Larrivee, 23, a sustainability consultant based in Boston, told the publication. “To me, there’s no point in pursuing a career — or life for that matter — in any other area.”

The shift to confront climate challenges is happening as the demand for jobs in sustainable energy grows stronger each year.

Bureau of Labor statistics indicate that wind power and solar power installation and maintenance jobs will be among the fastest growing careers over the next decade.

And new technology companies are coming to market with solutions for everything from potential climate-related coffee shortages (ahem, Compound Foods and Atomo) to new ways to make meats and cheeses (our portfolio companies Atlast Food Co. and Nobell Foods come to mind).

There are even startups to help job hunters sort through the slew of new tech companies and opportunities for climate related jobs. They’re businesses like ClimateScape, ClimateBase, and The GreenJobs Board.

Colleges and universities are getting into the act, with schools like The University of Southern California in Los Angeles, launching the Sustainability Across the Curriculum program earlier this year to teach the college’s 20,000 undergraduate students how their majors intersect with sustainability and the environment, as The Guardian reported.

Over 60 percent of USC students were “very interested” in sustainability on-campus, while 27 percent of students described themselves as interested in campus sustainability, according to this 2020 USC survey.

There are businesses here too that are hoping to capitalize on alternative education to cultivate climate career paths.

Terra.do is one company that’s working on helping people get educated and get employed in the world of climate tech. The early stage startup wants to be the hub for climate education for the tech and investment world, with a stated goal of getting 100 million climate-conscious people substantially working on climate change solutions relevant to them by 2030.

It’s a great goal, considering that the transition to clean energy represents a $23 trillion opportunity by 2030, and a whole mess of folks are going to need to be trained on how to spend that money wisely.

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© Flickr/Elizabeth Stillwell

While Terra.do is focused primarily on the white collar work that needs to be done, another startup, Julius, is focused on helping companies onboard and train the next generation of workers focused on building back physical infrastructure and managing it better.

“There’s this massive changing world of work and there’re these huge environmental needs.There’s been a lot of attention paid to the technology side of things and not the people side of things,” said Julius co-founder Matthew Evans. “We don’t think the climate goals are achievable without the right thinking about the workforce and who is going to really effectuate this.”

Julius was founded to help employers navigate the green transition, Evans said. Given the labor shortage there’s increasing pressure on employers to market themselves to prospective job-seekers and folks are looking for options that can be more fulfilling, according to the Julius founder.

“Connecting learning to careers is something that universities and community colleges struggle with. The number one thing that people are looking for beyond compensation is that they’re investing in their future. This need for career advancement and a sense of what my future could be is a fundamental need and desire for folks.”

Politicians are also hoping to channel the demand for green jobs and interest in climate careers into the proposed Civilian Climate Corps.

Advocates like Tonya Gayle, the executive director of a New York-based nonprofit that preps young residents in public housing for careers in solar installation and wind farm development, said that the program could be worthwhile — if it’s linked to community initiatives.

“The people in the communities know what’s best in terms of solutions,” Ms. Gayle told The New York Times. “National service in a civilian climate corps is a powerful thing.”

Meanwhile, some Congressional members think that the best way to finance and funnel new employees into clean jobs is to use existing training programs and mechanisms.

But Congressional proponents of the bill disagree.

“Tens of thousands of young people are going to be working to future-proof our country,” Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts told the Times. He hoped the Civilian Climate Corps “will become part of the personality of the country in terms of how a whole new generation views climate change.”

Environmental scientists and lawyers can expect to make median salaries of $73,000 and $122,000 per year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cited by The Guardian. And at 8% growth rates, environmental science and other related specialist fields are seeing higher levels of demand than other career paths.

Folks working on urban farms can make roughly $71,160 and “modern farmers” at the vertical farms that are now being built by startups like Plenty and Bowery Farming make roughy $14–$15 per hour, according to Glassdoor.

“I decided to pursue this industry because I think I’m in the first generation who knows the extent to which climate change poses an existential threat to life on Earth, and also the last generation who may be able to do anything about it,” Larrivee, told The Guardian.

by Foot.Notes by FootPrint Coalition

climate

The FootPrint Coalition, founded by Robert Downey Jr, is a coalition of investors, donors, and storytellers committed to spreading the word about technologies to restore the planet. It acts as a hub where leading scientists can share their research and engage directly with their audience to support it.
With collective inspiration, imagination, and ingenuity, the FootPrint Coalition aims to achieve the overarching goal of restoring the environment. That is why aware_ is pleased to feature two articles from FootNotes, a new publication from the FootPrint Coalition.

For more entertaining and informative content about technologies to restore our planet, visit: https://www.footprintcoalition.com