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Frontiers: Exploring the World of Data | The Plains of Electric Power | Beyond the Program
30th January 2024 • The Pair Program • hatch I.T.
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Frontiers: Exploring the World of Data | The Plains of Electric Power | Beyond the Program

In this episode our guest host, Jazmin Furtado, speaks with Emma Konet, Co-Founder and CTO of Tierra Climate, to learn more about how data is being harnessed to advance the Electric Power Industry.

They discuss:

  • How Emma was inspired to get into Energy.
  • The ways that she leverages the vast amounts of data at a national scale from the electric grid to make near-real-time decisions.
  • The challenges that face the Electric Power Industry today and what we need to think about to ensure a greener future.
  • And much more!

About today’s host: Jazmin Furtado has been a part of the software innovation realm for the Department of Defense where she has overseen large-scale Data and Artificial Intelligence programs in the Air Force and Space Force. She has also held various leadership and advisory roles with organizations such as Google, SpaceX, and Massachusetts General Hospital, where she designed and scaled AI, data, and education and training programs.

About today’s guest: Emma Konet is Co-Founder and CTO of Tierra Climate. Tierra Climate's mission is to accelerate grid-scale battery deployment by unlocking and monetizing grid decarbonization services. She is currently pursuing an MBA at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business and previously worked three years at battery developer Key Capture Energy as Director of Market Strategy & Operations. Prior to Key Capture, Emma spent four years at Citibank as a power trader managing risk in East power markets. In addition, Emma graduated Summa Cum Laude from Tulane with a B.S. in Chemistry and Mathematics and was recently selected as a Forbes 30 under 30 honoree for Energy.

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Transcripts

Tim Winkler:

Hey listeners, Tim Winkler here, your host of The Pair Program.

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:

We've got exciting news introducing our

latest partner series Beyond the Program.

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:

In these special episodes, we're

passing the mic to some of our savvy

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former guests who are returning as

guest hosts, get ready for unfiltered

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:

conversations, exclusive insights,

and unexpected twist as our alumni

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pair up with their chosen guest.

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Each guest host is a trailblazing

expert in a unique technical field.

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Think data, product management,

and engineering, all with a keen

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focus on startups and career growth.

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Look out for these bonus episodes

dropping every other week,

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bridging the gaps between our

traditional pair program episodes.

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So buckle up and get ready to

venture Beyond the Program.

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Enjoy.

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Emma Konet: Hello

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Jazmin Furtado: everyone, and welcome to

Frontiers, exploring the world of data.

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Frontiers dives into how people

are using their data science minds

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to shape organizations and change

the landscape outside of big tech.

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In each episode, we explore the far

reaching corners of the world of data.

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My name is Jazmin, and I'm

your host for this series.

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I myself am passionate about

empowering people to make data

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driven decisions, and I'm always

amazed at how others do it every day.

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Today, we are exploring the general,

the plains of electric power, how

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data is being leveraged to shake up

the energy industry of the future.

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And that leads us to introducing our

very special guest today, Emma Konet.

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Emma is the co founder and CTO of

Tierra Climate, a startup that's

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leveraging the power of emissions data

to improve battery economics and make

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the power grid greener and faster.

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I think a lot of us have been really

surprised to learn about all the serious

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work that goes into providing us not

just the electricity we consume every

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day, but how people like Emma are

reimagining how we harness a commodity

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that we've had for over 100 years.

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Before co founding Tierra Climate,

Emma spent a few years at Citi and

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then dove into the electropower

industry at Key Capture Energy,

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and a common thread throughout her

career has been her use of data to

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reimagine things and do things better.

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So thank you so much for

being here today, Emma.

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I'm really looking forward to hearing your

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Emma Konet: story.

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Thanks, Jazmin.

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Really happy to be here.

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So as

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Jazmin Furtado: we start, we will start

with our icebreaker question per usual.

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So the icebreaker question today related

to the energy industry is, if you were

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to invent a new type of power source,

what would you use or base it on and why?

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So I like to start so that I

don't have a tough act to follow.

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So my energy source, if I can create

a new one, would be dream energy.

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So bear with me here, dream energy.

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So if you can generate energy while you

dream, like when you're in a deep sleep,

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and then you have the ability to save it.

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And then you can use it on days when you

don't have enough sleep the day before,

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you can use it then and like tap into

that as a more like natural source of

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energy instead of like taking stimulants

or like, you know, caffeine and whatnot.

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It's like your own like

personalized dream energy pill.

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And so like, there's a state

of the saying of, you know.

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You can't just recover from a bad

night's sleep by just sleeping

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more the next day, necessarily.

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Like, you know, it's, it's not that easy.

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It's not a tit for tat sort of situation.

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So I imagine that this dream

energy source would be something

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a little bit more natural to help.

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Ease you into the days after a

bad, a bad, a bad night's sleep.

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So that's my energy source.

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Emma, we'd love to hear yours.

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Emma Konet: I love it.

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I think mine is not nearly as creative,

unfortunately, but, um, I love that.

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Yeah.

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So for me, it's probably, I mean, I

can't claim like certainly did not

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invent this, but I've always been

fascinated by nuclear energy and, you

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know, historically we've had nuclear.

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Vision, but nuclear fusion is obviously

what happens in stars and it's kind of

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like what powers the universe and like,

um, I've always thought of, like, every

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energy source originating from nuclear

energy, nuclear fusion, uh, because we

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get, uh, you know, sunshine from from.

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The sun and it comes down and it,

um, grows plants and then those

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plants got converted into, uh, fossil

fuels after, you know, thousands of

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years of compression in the earth.

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And then we, we release that

energy when we burn them.

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So even even fossil fuels come from

the sun and then obviously solar

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energy wind comes from the sun moving.

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Gas particles in our atmosphere.

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Um, and so I think that everyone like

the ground truth of energy is fusion.

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And, um, I think we've we've sustained

a fusion reaction, uh, I think

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for, like, 17 minutes on earth.

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But, um, you know, it's kind of

like the, the key to unlocking, I

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think, the carbon free, um, future.

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And if we can figure that out,

it's going to be pretty major.

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Jazmin Furtado: When we chatted a little

bit earlier about this before this

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recording, um, you said that this was

like an area or you've thought about

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this question before, or like, maybe

you've thought about this topic before.

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How long has this, like, can you

give a little bit more context there?

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Is it like, you know, this, this,

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Emma Konet: this question particular?

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Yeah, I mean, probably ever since I

was in like second grade, my dad has

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been telling me about how nuclear

fusion is going to save the world.

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So I've been, he has, he had

encouraged me to be an engineer

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so that I could go figure it out.

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Um, ended up not being an engineer.

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I studied mathematics and

chemistry in undergrad, um, but

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ended up in the energy industry.

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And, uh, I think where I found

myself is squarely in like.

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Implementation of technologies that

do exist, uh, rather than working on

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technologies that might exist in a lab.

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But I think that things kind of come

full circle because it's always been.

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Part of my life is thinking about

energy and how we get energy.

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I think it's like, I, I mean,

I'm very passionate about energy.

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I think it's like probably one of the

most important things we can think

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of as, um, like solving a lot of the

world's problems is with, is with

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clean, abundant and reliable energy.

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So it's always been

something I've thought about.

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Yeah.

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You,

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Jazmin Furtado: you're segwaying

us right into our main, uh, the

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main part of our episode here

and just, just chatting about.

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You know, the electric power industry

and 1st of all, like, learning about it.

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I think a lot of people don't really know

what it entails and, like, the different

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things that people do in this space.

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The energy industry at large I think

covers a lot of ground and so I was

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just wondering if for this, for our

conversation today, if you could just

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first like paint a picture of this

industry as you know it, you know,

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your, your, I guess the lens and

your, your piece of the industry, and

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then talk us through and you spoke

a little bit to it, maybe go into

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it more, like how you got into You

know, where you are now, it's your

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Emma Konet: climate.

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Sure.

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Yeah.

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So energy industry is

like a super broad term.

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And I live in Houston, Texas.

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And when you say energy in Houston,

most people think oil and gas and, um,

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it's, you know, it's been the fossil

fuels reigning supreme for the past

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century or 2, um, and, you know, it's

really improved the quality of life

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of a lot of people on the planet.

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And so, um, that's the

traditional idea of energy.

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But I think.

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You know, electricity has been around for

a very long time as well, and historically

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been generated by fossil fuels as well.

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But in the last, you know, 30 to

40 years, we're seeing a transition

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happen and we're starting to see

electricity being produced by other

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sources of electricity generation.

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And that includes wind power,

solar power, geothermal power.

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Um, hydroelectric power, uh, a nuclear

power, like we talked about earlier.

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Um, and, uh, so, you know, I think we're,

we're probably entering into an age

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of what I would say is going to be the

biggest energy transition of our lifetime.

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Um.

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It's going to be substantial.

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I mean, we're, we're looking at replacing

basically all fossil fuel generators

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on the electrical grid with some

other form of dispatchable generation.

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And when I say dispatchable

generation, I mean, generation

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that you can turn on and off.

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Um, that doesn't rely on some weather

phenomenon, like the sun shining

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or the wind blowing and we, um,

it'll be the combination of, like,

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what we consider clean dispatchable

resources in many cases, what people.

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Um, think of as traditionally as like

a battery, but there's lots of forms

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of energy storage and renewable energy.

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That'll kind of make up

the grid of the future.

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And that's going to become even more

important as we start to electrify other

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things in the world, like transportation.

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Um, and it's going to become important

when we start to have problems

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with water scarcity, because we'll

need electricity to desalinate if

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we have water shortages in places.

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You know, where we, we can't

get enough clean water.

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So, ultimately, everything, everything

to me kind of boils into this,

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like, clean energy world that has

to be powered by, like, a reliable.

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Sustainable, clean electric grid and, um.

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That's always been my passion.

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I answer the 2nd, part of your question

of how, like, how did I get into this?

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Um, I've cared about climate change.

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I was a young child.

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Um, I did my 7th grade science project on.

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The greenhouse effect, and I always

knew that it was like, I mean, even

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then it was, I guess, still kind of

controversial that it was, you know,

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caused by humans and, um, going to

cause a lot of problems in the world.

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And now I think it's much more accepted.

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Um, but I, even from back then, I was

like, you know, this seems like a big

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problem we should probably be working on.

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Um, and then I, I studied chemistry

and math, as I mentioned, and I

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ended up getting my 1st job on a

commodities trading floor and I

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really gravitated towards power.

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As a commodity, you know, electrons

flowing through transmission

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lines, how they're generated,

um, fascinating math problem.

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Um, and once I was there, I started

to see this transition happening.

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You know, it was, it was like 2016 to

:

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getting built and I was like, we're going

to have to store this energy somehow.

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And that's how I landed at an energy

storage developer and owner operator.

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And then from there, got super interested

in, like, problem space of how we dispatch

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batteries and, like, really complex.

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Um, you know, dynamics of the power

grid with respect to, like, energy

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duration, limited energy sources, and

then started my own company and and

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left my left my job in April of this

year and started tier climate and tier

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climate was really born out of the.

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Um, to solve 2 problems.

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Uh, 1 is we need to operate energy

storage assets in a way that

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decarbonizes the grid quickly.

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And 2, we need them to make enough

money to justify the trillions.

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Probably trillion dollars worth of

investment that we need to transition

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the grid to net 0 and Terra Climate

is solving both of those problems.

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Um, and that's and that's

why I started this company.

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You know,

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Jazmin Furtado: no big deal.

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That's great.

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You just started your own company.

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No small task.

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Uh, when you, when we talk about

the electric grid and like the,

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you know, the carbon footprint when

it comes to electric grid, can you

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speak to that a little bit more?

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Like, what?

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Because I think of the electric grid, you

know, if you're not familiar and I'm very

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not familiar with the industry, um, Yeah.

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You just think of just the network of

how we get our electricity, um, and,

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you know, is that like underground?

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Is that like, I guess I'm assuming

it's all like underground or

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over like wires or whatnot.

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So can you explain, first of all, what

the electric grid is and then also,

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you know, what is that, what does

it mean to have a, you know, um, and

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like have less like a carbon footprint

when it comes to the electric grid?

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Emma Konet: Sure.

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Yeah.

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Yeah, sometimes I take for granted,

like, the nuance of, you know, how

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power works, because it's one of those

things, like, I always compare it to,

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like, cell phones, like, I have a cell

phone I use every day, and I have no

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idea how it works, like, I have, I really

don't know the mechanics of, like, when

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I call someone, like, what is actually

happening, but I use it all the time, and

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I think power is really similar, right?

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You turn your light on.

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And the light turns on and, you

know, there's electrons flowing, but

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like, oh, where do they come from?

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I don't know if I never if you

never had to think about it.

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I mean, you know, it's probably not

something, you know, a bunch about.

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So, yeah, to answer your

question, I think there's 4 major

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components of the power grid.

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Um, there's the generators

that are people that are.

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Generating electrons from some sort of

fuel source, and that could be by spinning

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a turbine by, you know, by burning

fossil fuels to spin a turbine to create

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a current that flows through a line or

to like, an inverter based resource.

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That's capturing the energy

from the sun from the wind.

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And those are that's the generating fleet

and they're massive, massive projects.

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Um, like, You know, can power tens

of thousands of homes, and they're

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oftentimes far away from where you live.

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Um, and so then that brings us to the

transmission system, which moves that

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power from where the power is being

generated and transfers it into the

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places where people live and use power.

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Then you have the distribution system,

which takes that power from what we call

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them high voltage transmission lines.

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Um, that's like, they're

more efficient at carrying.

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Like, they're basically like the highways.

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Like, if you can think about that, the

analogy, it's like the highway for power.

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And then you have, like, your little

neighborhood streets, which is the

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distribution system and that steps the

power down in voltage and delivers it to.

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What is the last component of the

electricity grid, which is the load and

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that's anyone who's pulling power off the

power grid from the distribution system.

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So that could be my house.

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That could be an industrial.

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Industrial facility that's making widgets.

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Um, it's really any

anyone that uses power.

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And so those are kind of like,

what makes up the electricity grid.

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Now, the really interesting

thing is that until recently.

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We haven't really had cost

effective and wide scale storage.

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So that means that every time, like, this

is a commodity that you cannot, I mean,

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it's electrons flowing down a line, right?

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It's not like oil that you can

put in a barrel or natural gas

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that you can pull on a pipe.

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And a lot of people say electrons

versus molecules, like, electrons

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flow on lines and every other

form of energy is a molecule based

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form of energy that can be stored.

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And so, because we haven't had storage

that's been cost effective and wide scale.

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We've built a system where

electricity is consumed at the

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same time that it's produced.

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So like when you turn your light

on, there is a generator running

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that is producing that power and

delivering it to you in that moment.

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And, um, the supply has to meet the

demand at every single point in time,

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and the grid has to balance that at

a very, very, um, tight band around

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a frequency band around 60 Hertz.

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That's what the US power grid operates on.

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And there are a bunch of resources

that are ramping up and ramping down

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and ramping up and ramping down to

ensure that we don't violate that 60

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Hertz constraint and don't get too

far away out of that frequency band.

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And so that's really just as a

supply and demand matching problem.

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Now you kind of have like energy

storage enters the chat and like the

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game changes a bit because now all of a

sudden we can produce energy at a time.

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Maybe when we don't need it and we can

store it and then we can use it later.

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Kind of like your, your dream energy,

um, being able to use valuable

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energy, um, later at a later time.

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So, yeah, so energy storage,

you know, um, it's been around.

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Certainly the concept has been around

for a while, you know, like people

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have used pumped hydro, you know, As

energy storage, they pump water up in

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elevation and then it has potential

energy because it's stored up high and

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then you can flow it through a turbine

when you want to release that energy

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that spins a turbine and creates power.

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So that's not a new concept at all.

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But that's very geographically

constrained to places where you

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have water and elevation changes.

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Um, lithium ion batteries, on the

other hand, have a really high

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efficiency rate, meaning that they.

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Okay.

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Don't lose a lot of power when they, they

go through that process of storing and

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they can pretty much be placed anywhere.

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They're very modular.

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And so there's been in the last couple

of years, a huge change and how we think

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about transitioning the power grid with

renewable energy, because we can all

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of a sudden start using that really

valuable, clean energy when the sun goes

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down and we can use that at 7 PM and,

um, and displace fossil fuel generation.

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Got

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Jazmin Furtado: it.

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Okay.

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So I'm making the, the whole green aspect

is really being able to maximize the

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utilization of, you know, these, these

energy storage, you know, these batteries

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in order to make the, the energy available

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Emma Konet: like on demand.

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Yeah, that's exactly right.

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It's the classic model, what

they call, they call it energy

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arbitrage, where you're arbitraging.

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Really, it's the price of

electricity, which correlates to,

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um, generally correlates to the

carbon content of electricity.

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Um, and you're buying when prices you,

the battery buys when prices are low

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and then sells when prices are high.

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And that time shifting, that's

how a battery gets paid.

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And that time shifting has the natural

effect of picking excess, you know, just

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cause supply and demand when we have

too much of something, the price falls.

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Right.

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Um, and we don't, we don't

have enough, the price goes up.

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And so it.

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It uses economics and economic

signals to shift energy to

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times when we really need it.

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And the idea behind.

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Using batteries and connecting them to a

grid that has a lot of renewable energy is

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that that cheap energy that's oversupplied

is coming from a renewable resource.

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And so you can use that renewable energy.

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At any time of day, and it

becomes it becomes dispatchable.

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Got it.

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Okay.

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Okay.

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Jazmin Furtado: Yeah, thank you

for laying laying laying all that.

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I know that's it.

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You're taking a very complex.

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Concept and be able to explain it out.

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Um, I, it makes complete sense when.

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You think about it, the, it seems

so complex when you're talking about

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it, you're like, all right, things

move from one place to the next.

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And they, you know, it's all like

a big, um, ecosystem basically

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to provide you the energy you

need or the electricity you need.

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But I imagine that there's a lot of

analysis behind the scenes, a lot of

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like optimization behind the scenes.

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And I want to pull on that,

like data analysis, sort of like

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thread that goes on, cause I

think that's an integral part of.

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You know what you're doing.

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So I what?

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Where?

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First of all, what sort of data

are you like capturing or are

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you of most interest to you?

349

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And then second of all, like,

how are you using that and

350

:

leveraging it to make decisions?

351

:

Emma Konet: Sure.

352

:

So batteries are much more of what we

would call like a digital asset than any

353

:

other type of, um, generator on the grid,

meaning that they participate They can

354

:

leverage data in a way to improve their

operations that that not many other, um,

355

:

generators can or wouldn't even need to.

356

:

Um, and I say that meaning like

a battery is very quick to, like.

357

:

Respond to a signal, so it can, like, go

from charging to discharging within, like.

358

:

Couple of seconds, um, or even shorter.

359

:

And, um, it's also duration limited,

meaning that the decisions that a battery

360

:

operator is making depend on what you

think is gonna happen in the future.

361

:

So I have like, if price is like

$30 now and I think it's gonna be a

362

:

hundred dollars in the future, I would

wanna charge at $30 and discharge

363

:

at a hundred to make my $70 profit.

364

:

So buy at 30, sell at 100, move

the power across those two time

365

:

intervals and get that, um, get paid.

366

:

But if it's 30 now, and I

think it's going to be 0 in the

367

:

future, I don't want to buy.

368

:

I actually want to sell.

369

:

And I'm constrained by what my

state of charge is on the asset.

370

:

Like how much state of charge being how

much, um, power, just like your phone,

371

:

how much power is in the Battery that

I have to be able to discharge and

372

:

this is all a big optimization problem.

373

:

That's like moving forward

in time constantly.

374

:

And we think of a battery operating

on what we call opportunity cost.

375

:

Meaning like, if I'm not doing

something, what, what is the cost

376

:

of doing something else basically?

377

:

And how do I optimize across all of

the potential things that I can sell?

378

:

Both across time and across products,

because batteries can sell a lot

379

:

of different products, which we

don't really need to get into.

380

:

There's a lot of products besides just

energy in the power market that, like,

381

:

do things that help the grid function.

382

:

Um, and so anyway, it just

becomes this big math problem.

383

:

That's really interesting and fun.

384

:

And the inputs to that are, um,

you know, at the most basic level

385

:

power prices and what we think power

price is going to be in the future.

386

:

And power pricing of itself is a whole

math problem as a convex optimization,

387

:

mixed integer problem that happens

at the level of the grid operator.

388

:

Um, and it's doing a bunch of crazy

stuff at, like, these massive servers

389

:

that said that tell the grid how

to dispatch in the lowest cost way.

390

:

But what Terra Climate is doing is

saying, hey, look, we want to optimize

391

:

the battery, not only to do the most.

392

:

Optimal dispatch schedule with

respect to price, but also we want

393

:

to do the most the most optimal

schedule with respect to emissions.

394

:

And that is, um, that's not something

any real other generator can do.

395

:

Right?

396

:

Like, wind and solar, they

generate when they generate.

397

:

They don't have control over

when they're generating.

398

:

They generate when the wind is

blowing and the sun is shining.

399

:

A natural gas generator is going to have.

400

:

Emissions because they have

to burn gas to create power.

401

:

And so they don't, they

can't optimize to emissions.

402

:

They just produce emissions, but a

battery can optimize to emissions by

403

:

buying power that has low carbon content.

404

:

And then selling power back to the grid

when the carbon content of the greatest

405

:

high, and this is kind of where it's

like, a little harder to understand

406

:

and, like, think about it's kind of.

407

:

Esoteric, but what you're really doing

is you're displacing a generator.

408

:

That would have otherwise

been burning fuel and.

409

:

So what we're really trying to

do with data is say, hey, we can

410

:

actually estimate what we think the

emissions are going to be on the grid.

411

:

In addition to the price, and they're

not perfectly correlated 1 to 1,

412

:

and it really depends on location.

413

:

Um, and and fundamental aspects of,

like, the physical transmission system

414

:

and the wires, you know, connecting

all the generators to the load.

415

:

Um, and so it's really it boils down to,

like, a really complicated forecasting

416

:

problem that then feeds an optimization.

417

:

Engine and so there's a lot of data.

418

:

There's like, I mean, batteries spin off a

ton of data and they ingest a ton of data

419

:

and they do really cool, complex things.

420

:

And that's what.

421

:

Terra climate is working on, and

we're actually, we're really the

422

:

1st optimization engine that's.

423

:

Um, going to be optimizing to carbon

emissions in addition to price and

424

:

the way that we're able to accomplish

that is by partnering batteries

425

:

with, um, corporate entities that

want to purchase carbon offsets.

426

:

To claim those offsets as, um,

against their own emissions and It's

427

:

really, really critical to note that,

like, corporates have done played

428

:

such a big role in getting energy

infrastructure built in our country.

429

:

I don't think people necessarily realize,

like, how much we owe to, like, the big

430

:

tech companies that are building wind

farms, like, they're building wind farms.

431

:

They're building solar.

432

:

I'm not physically building them,

but they're, they're enabling them

433

:

financially by investing basically.

434

:

And, um, we're essentially

standing up that same mechanism

435

:

to support energy storage.

436

:

Um, through this contract that allows

batteries to operate in a way that pulls

437

:

carbon off the grid and the corporates

are willing to pay batteries to do that.

438

:

Jazmin Furtado: These optimization

models are, you know, these

439

:

methodologies can very like.

440

:

Big and complex.

441

:

Like they're really big models where,

but of course these models have to,

442

:

you know, you need a lot of data to

feed that every industry, when it comes

443

:

to you know, the data that they have

available, the data, the data that

444

:

they use every day, it's a little bit

different in terms of how easy it is to

445

:

access, where are they getting it from?

446

:

How much do they trust it?

447

:

What does that data look like for you

in terms of, you know, how easy is it

448

:

to pull, where are you pulling it from?

449

:

Uh, does it give you the full

picture of what are like?

450

:

Some of the constraints or limitations

or biases to the data that you get.

451

:

Emma Konet: Yeah, I'm going to

answer this with a little bit

452

:

of a longer history of power.

453

:

I hope you'll oblige me in the

early nineties, actually in the

454

:

early nineties, literally, um, power

markets were deregulated, meaning

455

:

that they were converted from like

vertically integrated monopolies into.

456

:

Markets where you can have full

participation from players.

457

:

Like generators and load in a

transparent deregulated market.

458

:

And basically what that means is

that, like, the people it used

459

:

to be that utilities owned the

generation transmission lines.

460

:

At the customers, and you can see

they're starting to have a lot of market

461

:

power, and it was hard to control cost.

462

:

And so, in an effort to reduce costs

for rate payers, and I say rate payers,

463

:

I'm like, you, me, anyone who pays

an electric bill is a rate payer.

464

:

Um.

465

:

In order to reduce costs for rate

payers, they said, let's deregulate

466

:

this market, make it more competitive.

467

:

And when they did that, it

unleashed, like, a massive amount

468

:

of transparent data to the market.

469

:

So where we get a lot of our data is

actually from the grid operator itself.

470

:

They're called independent

system operators or ISOs.

471

:

Sometimes called regional

transmission operators, RTOs, um,

472

:

and they, they have data sets.

473

:

I mean, you can, there's public data.

474

:

You can go out and just like pull

very granular, very, um, niche data,

475

:

pretty much anything, any question

you have about power, you can answer

476

:

through, through like grid data.

477

:

So that's one aspect.

478

:

Um, and it's, it, it, you know, I think

I could go on on a while about it.

479

:

The benefits and the pros and the

cons of power market deregulation,

480

:

because I think there are, you

know, both sides of that coin.

481

:

Um, but, you know, for better or

worse, this is the system that we

482

:

have and pretty much the system

in a lot of places in the world.

483

:

And, um, and there's a

lot of data associated.

484

:

And the 2nd place we get data from

is from the assets themselves.

485

:

So if I'm like an owner operator

of an asset, like a battery asset.

486

:

Like a lithium ion battery specifically,

you know, it's made up of little cells,

487

:

um, that are like the size of a VHS

tape and they're stacked into bigger

488

:

modules, which are then, you know,

hung into like these big racks and

489

:

then they go in shipping containers.

490

:

So it's very like modular.

491

:

Um, it's basically like, you know,

the same battery is in your phone.

492

:

Like, it's lithium ion.

493

:

Like, they just make it.

494

:

Bigger by making many of them

exist in 1 place and, um,

495

:

they spin off a ton of data.

496

:

Like, every 4 seconds, you get, like,

voltage temperature, um, all like.

497

:

Any kind of reading you could, like,

get from a sensor on each of those

498

:

cells and then across all the cells.

499

:

And across time, and then across

projects, and so you can start to

500

:

see data like balloons easily into

terabytes of project level data and, um.

501

:

That's another really important feature

of how we optimize energy storage

502

:

because it's not 1 massive asset.

503

:

It's a bunch of aggregated, smaller

batteries, and there are performance

504

:

issues across those, and you have

to, you know, there's a lot of.

505

:

Engineering that goes into, they

call performance engineering

506

:

that goes into getting optimal

performance of such a digital asset.

507

:

Yeah,

508

:

Jazmin Furtado: the more you

talk about, I'm just like, wow,

509

:

this is I can see how it just.

510

:

There's just so much to kind of.

511

:

Russell to, like, grab it right around

and I can actually make, like, sense

512

:

and make the data like, work for you

when it comes to the, the, the electric

513

:

power industry or just in your space.

514

:

How I guess is this amount of data?

515

:

And the I mean, obviously presents

a lot of opportunities, but.

516

:

Are there challenges with the data

aspect of, um, of your work and

517

:

being able to grab the data, make

sense of it, you know, the speed at

518

:

which you're able to make decisions?

519

:

Are there, are there challenges

that make working with data

520

:

in this industry in this field

521

:

Emma Konet: unique?

522

:

Yeah, I think, you know, there

are certainly industries that use

523

:

data at a much higher frequency

than, like, the power grid does.

524

:

And like, one that I would

think of is like, you know,

525

:

high frequency equities trading.

526

:

Where you're literally trying to,

like, arm the speed at which, like,

527

:

information can travel down a cable.

528

:

So, there's like, there's definitely,

like, people out there doing,

529

:

like, way heftier problems than,

I mean, this is still, like, a lot

530

:

of data that happens very quickly.

531

:

You generate a lot of data.

532

:

By no means, like, I mean, there are

people out there doing like quantum

533

:

computing and certain applications.

534

:

And I would say, like, the

energy world, the world of

535

:

electric power is not there yet.

536

:

Not even close.

537

:

Like, uh, are we're basically

making decisions on a level of

538

:

like 5 minutes every 5 minutes.

539

:

Um, so it is, but it is a lot.

540

:

And I think maybe 1 of the more

interesting things is that, like,

541

:

these optimization models require,

like, compute power and, you know,

542

:

uh, like a naive, simple model that

you could use like an open source.

543

:

Thanks.

544

:

Um, Python package solver to to solve

sometimes can't solve a problem and

545

:

the time constraint that you have.

546

:

And so you actually have to, like,

level up to a more heavy duty commercial

547

:

solver that has a more elegant, um,

way of coming to an optimal solution.

548

:

And that is a constraint

that you could see.

549

:

I mean, obviously there are people

out there solving very, very complex

550

:

optimization problems quickly.

551

:

And so you throw enough compute power

at it and you can, you can get it done.

552

:

Um, but you could bump up against

that constraint, um, where you're

553

:

just, it's a, it's a difficult mixed

integer problem and it takes time

554

:

for a computer to find a solution.

555

:

So I think that's kind of one maybe

interesting constraint that specifically

556

:

relates to battery optimization.

557

:

Are you saying you're running

558

:

Jazmin Furtado: these models

and updating, getting updated

559

:

information every five minutes?

560

:

Yes, that is so fast.

561

:

I thought that was so fast

because you're coming.

562

:

I think your background, I

think, um, you're, I guess

563

:

you've also been on like that.

564

:

You've worked at faster speeds

or you've gotten information

565

:

at faster speeds, right?

566

:

On like a more like every

second sort of basis.

567

:

Is that, is that right?

568

:

Okay.

569

:

Emma Konet: Yeah.

570

:

So the fact that you can,

you're getting information

571

:

Jazmin Furtado: every five minutes, I

think is with all the information you have

572

:

to like, I think that's It's really fast.

573

:

Um, I think, you know, when you look

at other industries, they can go,

574

:

you know, you'd be, um, you know,

depending on your data source and

575

:

how often it's updated, you can get,

you know, every day, every month, you

576

:

know, you'll get like new information.

577

:

You can like, you know,

crunch new numbers, but that,

578

:

that's a really exciting area.

579

:

I would think that in the energy industry

at large, you know, it's, you know, it's

580

:

such an old industry, obviously, um,

you would think that things, you know.

581

:

Go a little slower.

582

:

Uh, do you, do you think that there's

just a lot of push for things, you know,

583

:

to make, to reimagine things in it?

584

:

It's, it's really.

585

:

Uh, the, the bar, the barrier

to entry is low on that front

586

:

and the energy in the energy

587

:

Emma Konet: industry.

588

:

Yeah, I think that the

energy industry is okay.

589

:

Let me say this.

590

:

There's a lot of consequences to

screwing up in the energy industry.

591

:

Like, if something goes wrong, you

can, like, fry a transmission line that

592

:

costs a million dollars a mile to build

or 5 million dollars a mile to build.

593

:

And like, that's a huge

infrastructure risk.

594

:

Um, you can cause people to lose power

that need it, like hospitals and places

595

:

that can't, you know, like I got my

COVID vaccine because the hospital

596

:

lost power during a winter storm in

Texas and they had a freezer full of

597

:

vaccines that were going to go bad.

598

:

And this was in like February of 2021,

like that's a real critical problem.

599

:

Like the power grid failed and

like it had real consequences.

600

:

To the hospital that was trying to

administer vaccines in a pandemic.

601

:

So, um, I think that because of those

consequences, the industry, by definition,

602

:

can't move as fast as like the tech world.

603

:

Um, like the, the speed at

which we're seeing, like, large

604

:

language models evolve and and.

605

:

Enter into the market is like breakneck

compared to the speed at which you see

606

:

the electric power industry of all.

607

:

Um, and it's probably because, like,

if tells you, you know, the sky is red,

608

:

like, there's no real consequences.

609

:

You just go.

610

:

Oh, yeah, it's not.

611

:

I guess it's wrong.

612

:

But if the energy industry fails to supply

power to, like, critical infrastructure,

613

:

then people's lives are at stake.

614

:

So.

615

:

So I think that's that's 1 answer to

your question, but the flip side of

616

:

that is, like, the power grid has been

dispatching the grid on as on a granular

617

:

level of every 5 minutes for a long time.

618

:

Like, the, the, the actual.

619

:

Dispatch happens, um, from the

independent system operator, like,

620

:

what we would consider the grid.

621

:

Um, really frequently, and it's and

it's actually sending signals to some

622

:

assets on the order of, like, sub 2nd.

623

:

With respect to like

maintaining frequency.

624

:

Cause it's so important that we maintain

frequency to keep the grid up and running.

625

:

So, um, it's kind of crazy to me that

we built this system that is like

626

:

mine, surely like ahead of its time.

627

:

Like when we think back to like the

bulk power grid and like it's doing

628

:

stuff and dispatching all these

assets and moving power and making

629

:

sure everyone can pull power and

transmission lines are protected.

630

:

Um, at a five minute granularity, like.

631

:

That's impressive.

632

:

Um, but it's just been that way for a

while and it's hard to say, I don't know.

633

:

I mean, it's hard to say.

634

:

I think that things will evolve

the way things are moving

635

:

in the, in the energy world.

636

:

As we make this clean energy transition

is that you no longer have, like,

637

:

plants that have to, like, burn coal

and, like, get a turbine spinning and

638

:

like, you know, Um, you know, like,

literally, like, physically, like, put

639

:

fuel into a place where it can, like,

be lit on fire and generate electrons.

640

:

And you're moving more towards, like,

these inverter based resources where, um,

641

:

we call them variable renewable energy.

642

:

So, um, they're not intermittent

per se, because I'm just

643

:

like, turn on and turn off.

644

:

Randomly, but they ramp up and

they ramp down according to,

645

:

like, weather patterns and then.

646

:

That combined with these, like,

dispatchable assets that are so digital

647

:

and so flexible and also have a lot

of constraints on them is making the

648

:

energy mix, like, a different problem.

649

:

And I think the way, like,

markets have been set up.

650

:

That has traditionally served the

fossil fuel industry for the past 100

651

:

years are going to be forced to evolve.

652

:

The question, I guess, is just

how fast does that happen?

653

:

And at what point.

654

:

Do we get, like, major sweeping

market structure changes.

655

:

Um, to accommodate these

different types of resources.

656

:

Jazmin Furtado: Yeah, I definitely

want to, uh, move into, um, chat about,

657

:

you know, where you see the future.

658

:

You touched on it just at the end of

there, um, on where you see the future

659

:

of this industry going, but I first

want to go back to some things at the

660

:

beginning of your answer around, um,

some of these, you know, situations that

661

:

happen that are real life consequences

of like, you know, messing something up

662

:

or not having the right infrastructure in

place or does not have the right policies

663

:

in place to like deal with things.

664

:

Have you experienced or do you

have, you know, if you have

665

:

experiences where you, Okay.

666

:

Something happens and you're like, you

know, this is why I'm in this industry.

667

:

There's like, you know, I'm

doing this in order to prevent

668

:

this scenario from happening.

669

:

Or like, are you constantly

reminded of why you chose to be

670

:

in the power electric industry?

671

:

Emma Konet: Yeah, um, 2021 February

of:

672

:

I mean, it hit other parts of the

country, but it hit Texas really bad.

673

:

Um, and we lost power

in our house for like 2.

674

:

5 days.

675

:

And I think the temperature outside

is like 18 degrees, which for everyone

676

:

who doesn't live in a warm place might

be like, that's not so cold, but in

677

:

Texas, that's like an apocalyptic event.

678

:

And the inside of my house,

like, obviously no power

679

:

and I have electric heat.

680

:

So, uh, the inside of my house was like.

681

:

35 degrees and I was wearing my

ski gear and you know, my poor

682

:

cat is like, what's going on?

683

:

Like he's freezing and it's just

like, okay, yeah, this is a failure.

684

:

This is a massive failure of

infrastructure and it's it's because

685

:

of a event caused by climate change.

686

:

Texas has gotten storms before and I will

say there's an element of like man made

687

:

devastation like that event was caused

by generators not being winterized and

688

:

it was kind of like the Swiss cheese

problem when you get all the holes

689

:

line up and then you have a failure.

690

:

Um, but certainly like, climate

change is making weather events like

691

:

that worse and more catastrophic.

692

:

I live in a place where we

get hurricanes regularly.

693

:

Hurricanes.

694

:

Blood, you know, like Hurricane

Harvey, I think it's:

695

:

Um, yeah, I mean, I had friends with

water in their houses up to their

696

:

roofs like these are devastating

events and, um, it just points.

697

:

It's like the cyclical problem, right?

698

:

Like, we keep burning fossil fuels to

build infrastructure, prevent damage

699

:

from things that from climate events

that are caused by burning fossil fuels

700

:

that are releasing carbon into the air.

701

:

So it's like we need to cut that

cycle, that vicious cycle down.

702

:

And we need to build

infrastructure that is clean.

703

:

And then we also need to build,

you know, resilient buildings and

704

:

homes that can withstand those types

of events because, like, they're

705

:

not going to not happen anymore.

706

:

I mean, we're, we're too deep

in this, like, to say that we're

707

:

not going to get extreme weather

events over the next century.

708

:

I think we certainly will.

709

:

Um, but we, we have to stop

putting carbon into the atmosphere.

710

:

Like, we, we just have to stop that.

711

:

Um, and I, I think about a lot, like,

what's the consequence of like, you

712

:

know, Turning the ship like too hard

in one direction where we like, you

713

:

know, put an extreme carbon tax or

something that could like, you know,

714

:

destroy the global economy or something.

715

:

And like, that's not

the right answer either.

716

:

Like it has to be a change over time.

717

:

Um, but it absolutely has to be a change.

718

:

And I think those are the types of things

that I think about and I'm like, okay,

719

:

like what we're doing is really important

because I, I want to be able to have

720

:

power in my house and I want to, you

know, like, I want our infrastructure

721

:

to be able to like work properly and.

722

:

I want other people in the world

that don't have access to power to

723

:

have access to clean, affordable,

reliable power because it is so

724

:

important for quality of life.

725

:

Um, and and I think the way

we get there is not through.

726

:

Burning more fossil fuels, I think

it's by by making clean energy

727

:

infrastructure more accessible.

728

:

Yeah, and I'm looking

729

:

Jazmin Furtado: at the future.

730

:

And moving towards, you know, we're, we're

trying to make the future greener, um,

731

:

and, you know, we have to account for the

fact that we, we may experience these,

732

:

you know, climate change situation that

they're just going to get worse over time.

733

:

If we don't fix this problem now,

that brings me to the question

734

:

of looking towards the future.

735

:

Where do you really

see a lot of, you know.

736

:

You know, places in your industry

really taking off or like, where,

737

:

where people that are really data

minded, I really want to be able to

738

:

use data to make better decisions.

739

:

Like, where in this field, you see

that really growing and in really

740

:

great need in the next few years.

741

:

Emma Konet: I think

energy storage is a big 1.

742

:

I think transmission infrastructure

is also a big 1 and a lot

743

:

of these problems are like.

744

:

Data engineering physics problems, right?

745

:

Like not just pure data science.

746

:

There's, you know, a lot

of other things going on.

747

:

Um, but yeah, I think I

think those are kind of 2.

748

:

Areas where I think we're going

to have to see a lot of growth.

749

:

I mean, I think alternative technology

to we're going to run out of lithium.

750

:

Like, that is pretty much for sure.

751

:

Like, if we cannot build all the world's

batteries on lithium, um, that's just

752

:

going to be a binding constraint.

753

:

So we need something else.

754

:

We need some other type

of battery technology.

755

:

And there's there's other people

working on these types of problems.

756

:

Um, you know, like form energy is,

is building an iron oxide battery.

757

:

That's very long duration

and iron is very ubiquitous.

758

:

So, um, that could be a

solution to the lithium problem.

759

:

Um, so, you know, I think different

types of technology is important.

760

:

Um, 1 thing I will say about, like,

the future is like, I have a really

761

:

hard time imagining what power is

going to look like after, like, my

762

:

horizon is kind of like 20 years.

763

:

Because, like, after 20 years, when

you start to be, like, mostly renewable

764

:

energy and batteries, the breakdown of

how people make money under current, like,

765

:

constructs, I was kind of alluding to

this earlier, but, like, current market

766

:

constructs, like, no longer make sense.

767

:

Because basically, like, the way

power prices are determined is

768

:

effectively based on, like, the

operational cost of generating power.

769

:

And That usually is a is a derivative

of, like, fuel cost, like, gas prices

770

:

and, um, coal prices and stuff.

771

:

And, like, once those are no longer,

like, the primary assets on the

772

:

grid, I'm like, I don't really

know how that's going to work.

773

:

That's going to be an interesting problem.

774

:

So I think that there's for me,

it's like, hard to imagine something

775

:

where it's so vastly different

than the system we have today.

776

:

Um.

777

:

I don't know.

778

:

I mean, it's gonna have to change.

779

:

I have some maybe hunches that would

probably be too too technical to get

780

:

into now, but, um, it's gonna be wild.

781

:

I mean, the 1 thing I just hope for is

that we don't slow down, you know, like, I

782

:

think there was like, a lot of hype about

clean energy, like, before:

783

:

We had a global recession and like,

some investment dried up and it just

784

:

kind of, it didn't like hold completely.

785

:

Obviously, we kept building stuff, but the

like, whole hype cycle around, you know,

786

:

startups that are doing like cool energy.

787

:

Solving cool energy problems, like,

definitely slowed down and I just hope

788

:

that we don't have that happen again.

789

:

You know, it needs to be entrenched

enough into like, large corporations

790

:

into people, like how people invest

and spend money, um, and their

791

:

values that we continue to drive.

792

:

This transition, um, forward, you

know, at the pace that that's the

793

:

pace we're going now or faster and

794

:

Jazmin Furtado: I have a speed

question for you as we wrap up here.

795

:

Do if you're, you know, there's someone

who's not really familiar with industry.

796

:

That's like, oh, actually,

everything that Emma's talking about.

797

:

Really?

798

:

It sounds really interesting.

799

:

What do you what

800

:

Emma Konet: advice do you have

801

:

Jazmin Furtado: for people

who are interested in.

802

:

The energy industry and want

to get involved, but, you know,

803

:

but don't know where to start if

they're like, really into data.

804

:

Yeah.

805

:

Emma Konet: Yeah, um, there's a

podcast called bolts, um, that I

806

:

really like that is, is exclusively

focused on like energy problems.

807

:

Um, and, and a lot focused on electricity.

808

:

Uh, so I think that's a

great podcast are great.

809

:

I mean, I love, I love

listening to podcasts.

810

:

I love being on podcasts.

811

:

I think it's fun to talk about

things I'm passionate about.

812

:

Um, I think that's honestly

the age of podcasts.

813

:

You can learn so much, uh, just from

finding people that like, love to

814

:

talk about these types of problems.

815

:

And then, of course, you know, there's

a ton of academic literature out there.

816

:

If you're into more reading, um, we

put a white paper out on our, our.

817

:

Problem space on our website, if people

are interested in looking at that, you

818

:

know, those are white papers are a good

way to kind of get by more bite size,

819

:

less like academic, you know, like

journal article type information and more

820

:

like, I don't know, possibly digestible.

821

:

I guess.

822

:

Um, I think that those are

really good places to start.

823

:

And then, you know, I'll plug the my

climate journey is a slack community that.

824

:

Has a ton of resources.

825

:

Um, I do think you have to pay to join.

826

:

It's like 100 bucks a year, but

I have met a lot of cool people

827

:

that are working on cool problems.

828

:

And my brother's on there, so I

chat with him sometimes on Slack.

829

:

He works at a sustainable

aviation fuel company.

830

:

Um, anyway, so, yeah, I think that

there's there's just a lot of resources

831

:

within the climate community and then

that obviously touch on energy and

832

:

specifically on renewable energy.

833

:

As well, thank you

834

:

Jazmin Furtado: for that.

835

:

Um, so I wanted to end our

episode with around a factor

836

:

fiction and I know that it.

837

:

Wait, I want to wrap

this up in a few minutes.

838

:

I know we're a little pressed for time.

839

:

So I will, I won't, I won't go

through all 5 5 of them, but I'll,

840

:

I'll go through at least 3 to

see if we can get through these.

841

:

All right, so 1st question, 1st

statement, there are 4 major renewable

842

:

energy sources, solar energy, geothermal

energy, wind energy, and hydropower.

843

:

Factor

844

:

Emma Konet: fiction.

845

:

Yeah, I think that's true.

846

:

Jazmin Furtado: Biomass is the fifth.

847

:

It's like the largest one of

the renewable energy sources.

848

:

Emma Konet: Biomass.

849

:

Technically renewable,

but not carbon neutral.

850

:

Oh,

851

:

Jazmin Furtado: so interesting.

852

:

Emma Konet: Yeah, that's interesting.

853

:

Okay, so like half, half, half fiction.

854

:

It's, yeah, I suppose it is renewable,

but I certainly wouldn't want to burn

855

:

biofuels to supply the electric grid.

856

:

Okay, fair.

857

:

All right, second one.

858

:

Jazmin Furtado: Um, let's see.

859

:

Wind technicians are the 10th fastest

growing occupation in the United States.

860

:

Yeah, that sounds

861

:

Emma Konet: true.

862

:

Sure.

863

:

Jazmin Furtado: Am

864

:

Emma Konet: I wrong on all

865

:

Jazmin Furtado: of these?

866

:

They're the second fastest

growing occupation in the U.

867

:

S.

868

:

Oh, wow.

869

:

Second to

870

:

Emma Konet: nurses.

871

:

Yeah, right?

872

:

Like, you wouldn't know that.

873

:

Wow, that's surprising.

874

:

I would have thought

it went the other way.

875

:

I know wind technicians,

876

:

Jazmin Furtado: you know growing industry.

877

:

Emma Konet: Hey, that's awesome.

878

:

Love to hear it.

879

:

All right last one

880

:

Jazmin Furtado: Morocco holds the world

record for most consecutive days using

881

:

solely renewable energy at 300 days

882

:

Emma Konet: Morocco,

883

:

you know, I would guess it's Brazil

because I know they have like a

884

:

super hydroelectric Power grid, but

I don't know much about Morocco.

885

:

I'm gonna say false.

886

:

That is correct.

887

:

Jazmin Furtado: It is Costa Rica,

which I was like, Oh, Costa Rica.

888

:

Yeah.

889

:

So there you go.

890

:

Learn something, learn something new.

891

:

There are a couple other ones, but I

think those ones you would have gotten

892

:

right based off of just our conversation.

893

:

Emma Konet: I'm one for three,

so, you know, not great.

894

:

I'll give you the other two.

895

:

I'll say you got three

896

:

Jazmin Furtado: for five because

I'm assuming you're going

897

:

to get the other ones right.

898

:

Okay.

899

:

All right.

900

:

Thank you, Emma.

901

:

Thank you so much for being here.

902

:

Allowing, allowing me and all those

that are tuning in the opportunity to

903

:

learn so much more about energy and

how people like yourself are using

904

:

data to make for like a greener future.

905

:

I really look forward to

seeing you're following your.

906

:

Electrifying journey as you work to surge

this industry forward, I had to like run

907

:

out of time because I would not have come

up with those plans by myself, just on

908

:

Emma Konet: the fly.

909

:

Um, but

910

:

Jazmin Furtado: yeah, I know I learned, I

learned a lot more about the industry than

911

:

I did than I knew before we were chatting.

912

:

So thank you for breaking all

that down for me and, and for

913

:

those that are listening in.

914

:

Um, I know that they as well

learn something new just from

915

:

listening to this conversation.

916

:

Emma Konet: Awesome.

917

:

I really appreciate it.

918

:

I appreciate you inviting me on here.

919

:

Thanks so much.

920

:

Of course.

921

:

Jazmin Furtado: And lastly, I need

to, of course, thank you, Hatch IT for

922

:

sponsoring this episode on the peer

program and allowing me the creative

923

:

freedom to host the series and chat with

super interesting people and be introduced

924

:

to super interesting people like Emma.

925

:

Lastly, as always, I'd like to thank you,

the listener for tuning into this episode

926

:

and exploring the world of data with us.

927

:

Thank you everyone.

928

:

Take care.

929

:

Tim Winkler: Calling all

startup technologists.

930

:

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931

:

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932

:

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934

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936

:

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937

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938

:

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:

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940

:

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941

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:

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:

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944

:

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