Kirsty Gogan and Eric Ingersoll are the founders of TerraPraxis, a non-profit organization that is “focused on action for climate and prosperity.” Robert talks with them about their recent report, “Missing Link to a Livable Climate: How Hydrogen-Enabled Synthetic Fuels Can Help Deliver the Paris Goals,” nuclear energy, the footprint of renewables, and why the low capacity factors of wind and solar energy make them incompatible with low-cost production of hydrogen.
Kirsty Gogan and Eric Ingersoll are the founders of TerraPraxis, a non-profit organization that is “focused on action for climate and prosperity.” Robert talks with them about their recent report, “Missing Link to a Livable Climate: How Hydrogen-Enabled Synthetic Fuels Can Help Deliver the Paris Goals,” nuclear energy, the footprint of renewables, and why the low capacity factors of wind and solar energy make them incompatible with low-cost production of hydrogen.
Robert Bryce 0:04
Hi, and welcome to the power hungry podcast. I'm Robert Bryce. On this podcast we talk about energy, power, innovation and politics. And we're going to be talking about all of those today with my guests, Kirsty gogan, and Eric Ingersoll. They are the cofounders of Terra praxis.org, a new nonprofit and we're going to talk about a report that they just recently published. Welcome to the power hungry podcast, Kirsty and Eric.
Kirsty Gogan 0:29
Oh, it's a pleasure. Thanks, Robert, for having us.
Eric Ingersoll 0:32
Great to be here.
Robert Bryce 0:34
So I'm gonna blindside you. I didn't warn you. And just in our brief prep talk before guests on the podcast introduce themselves. That's the tradition here. So imagine you've just arrived at an event a small dinner party or something? You don't know anyone there and you have? Let's say 45 seconds. 30 seconds. 45 seconds to introduce yourselves. Go. Ladies first.
Kirsty Gogan 0:58
Okay. Hi there. My name is Kirsty gogan, co founder of Terra praxis with with Eric here. And I guess I would describe myself like first and foremost as a climate Hawk. And our our sort of living and breathing work is focused on designing scalable solutions for the really tough to decarbonize parts of our climate and energy challenges.
Robert Bryce 1:25
That's good. Okay, Eric, you're up.
Eric Ingersoll 1:28
Hi, I'm Eric Ingersoll. I'm also obviously a co founder of telepractice, with Kirsty and we like to think about the sort of timeframe that we now have to fully decarbonize our civilization. And we, we've kind of spent a long time 20 3040 years doing a lot of advocate advocacy around climate, and we're now more or less out of time. And so we think that it's time to move from advocacy to planning from advocacy to do you know, solutions that we can really implement now, not the perfect solutions, but the solutions that will get us there. And so, the kind of the work that we do together at Terra practice is really aimed at these check these tough to decarbonize sectors and this very small amount of time that we have left to to achieve this decarbonisation.
Robert Bryce 2:39
Got it. Okay, so now I'm gonna interject here, those are good introductions, but Kirsty you're in London. And Eric, you're in Boston. Is that right?
Eric Ingersoll 2:47
Yes. Cambridge, Massachusetts,
Robert Bryce 2:49
Cambridge, Massachusetts. Okay. I'm gonna call it Boston. But anyway, yeah. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Okay, fine. So we're here to talk about a report that you published a few months ago called missing link to a livable climate, how hydrogen enabled synthetic fuels can help deliver the Paris goals. Why this report Now, why, and there's been a lot of talk, as you both know about hydrogen lately, and I would even say a lot of hype around hydrogen lately. Why this report? Why now?
Kirsty Gogan 3:20
Yeah, it's a hot topic, isn't it?
Robert Bryce 3:22
Kirsty Gogan 3:24
So one of the things that has sort of, you know, characterize the climate and energy discourse over the last 20 or 30 years is a big focus on electricity generation. So, you know, that's, that's for good reasons. In many ways, hopefully, we can increase electrification, including of sectors that are currently not electrified. And it's sort of seen as being like the first important step to to decarbonisation to clean up electricity generation, electrify as much as you can, and then figure out some solutions for the parts that you can't electrify. And so as a result, we have actually been making pretty good progress with, you know, driving down costs and increasing rates of deployment of clean electricity generation, particularly wind and solar. But when you look at the forecasts for future energy consumption, all of the mainstream projections are indicating that more than half of our energy will still come from fossil fuels by 2050. And that's including really ambitious and really successful build outs of those, you know, renewable energy sources. But it's it's the reason is partly because of population growth. And it's partly as a result of the fact that we just don't have good answers, for hard to decarbonize sectors particularly heavy transport like shipping and aviation, but also oil generally, for in transport uses and other uses as well as gas outside the power sector, and coal. Those parts of The economy and not forecast to be decarbonized. And so, you know, many people are now looking at hydrogen as being a useful tool in helping decarbonize those sectors. But the question is, where will the hydrogen come from at a large enough scale? And can it be delivered at a cost? Which is cheap enough to enable the kind of transition we need within the timescales that we're talking about within those mid mid century timescales? And that's what led us to investigate those questions in our report.
Robert Bryce 5:30
And having looked at the report, your your answer is lots and lots and lots of nuclear, if I don't mean to steal your punchline, but so will, Eric, if you don't mind, then then what are the key points here, then in the in the report? I don't mean to steal your thunder by tipping the hand here, but that nuclear is the answer. But I've also had a lot of people on that podcast talking about nuclear energy. Why nuclear? Why do why do we need nuclear to produce hydrogen? And what are we talking about in terms of the scale of deployment of nuclear that would be needed to make this happen?
Eric Ingersoll 6:03
Well, we we like to call it advanced heat sources. So we are when we, when we wrote an earlier draft of the report, we use the word nuclear a lot. In fact,
Kirsty Gogan 6:18
can I let me just just slightly just interrupt you there. So we do use the word nuclear in the report. But when we use the word nuclear, we refer to conventional gigawatt scale traditional construction, which is the kind of nuclear that people generally think about when you use the word. And then we really deliberately, very intentionally talk about advanced heat sources when we're describing the very, very innovative technology configurations that are included in the report that really have nothing to do with the the great big construction projects that we see being built today in Europe and the United States. And so that Sorry to interrupt you, Eric, but I think it's just really important that we wanted to make that very, very clear distinction, that we're talking about something very, very different.
Eric Ingersoll 7:05
Very helpful. And so the the challenge is that the even the sort of reduced forecasts for, say, fossil, liquid fossil fuels in 2015. even assuming a lot of deployment of renewables, and and, you know, electrification of transport options, and so forth, there's still a very, very large amount of oil being produced and used. And, you know, it's hard for people to understand the scale of this. This is not something that we're going to solve by, you know, building a few 100 gigawatts of wind farms. Right. Like, the the goal for Europe is to have the stretch goal is to have 750 gigawatts of wind by 2050. This amount of fuel use that we're talking about equates to if you're if you're making it from electro fuel. So if you're making electricity, and then making hydrogen and then making fuel accounts to about 14 terawatts of,
Robert Bryce 8:22
of energy, 14,000 gigawatts, or 20 times when the number you just mentioned.
Eric Ingersoll 8:27
Exactly, right, exactly. So there's a kind of, although we have as Kirstie said, although we have massive ambitions to deploy, you know, lots of solar and very sunny places in the world, and lots of wind and all of this stuff, where the the energy system is really so big, that we, you know, people people, you know, it's very easy to, especially if this isn't your field, it's very easy to just kind of say, Oh, that's a lot, but that must be enough, right? When in fact, it's 1/20 of what's needed. So, so,
Robert Bryce 9:09
and that's really just to be clear, and just that's just to be clear, that's just to displace oil in the European market. You're either number that you just No,
Eric Ingersoll 9:16
no, no, no 2014 terawatts is global global oil and gas. Okay. All right.
Robert Bryce 9:23
And what I'm hearing though, what's your Can I paraphrase what you just said is that renewables can't get us there? Is that a fair? Is that a fair assessment?
Kirsty Gogan 9:32
Yeah, sound is that you know, that renewables all we did is very extensive literature review of the Bloomberg New Energy Finance McKinsey, ie A n rail reports looking at projections for hydrogen production from renewables in 2030 2040 2050, and what we found is that is that it's, it's no one is expecting wind and solar To be delivering hydrogen at the target costs that will be necessary for hydrogen to be a useful ingredient in the production of clean synthetic fuels. Because actually what we need, and we haven't really covered this yet, but if the hydrogen is going to be useful, not only do we need a very large amount of it to be produced reliably, but it also has to be really cheap, like really cheap. And the target cost that we set in our report, in order for hydrogen to be a useful ingredient in clean synthetic substitute fuels is around 90 cents a kilogram,
Robert Bryce 10:33
less than $1 per kilogram. So if I refer
Eric Ingersoll 10:36
to that shaky thing, just I want to make sure I didn't really fully answer your question about what the what the kind of framework is here. But we believe that for decarbonization to happen quickly, you need to have substitutes that require very little change in the in people's behavior, and in the way supply chains work, and so forth. And that very little change is a combination of technical change, like you don't need to buy a new house or a new car or whatever. But also very little economic change, meaning you don't have big economic dislocation from high prices or, you know, big risks or all these other things, right. So what, in other words, if you if you were designing a way to decarbonize quickly, which by the way, is our goal, and that's what telepractice works on, you need to find ways to, to, to rapidly transform very large energy systems. And the only way that we can see to do that is to to find ways to use the existing infrastructure, but to decarbonize it. And for fuels. That means comparably priced fuels that can work in the kind of equipment and an applications that people are using fuels for today. And people will say, oh, but it's more efficient to have an electric car, you know, you're not making electricity, and then making a fuel and then kind of using the fuel and efficiently in the engine and all of that. That's all true. But the point is, that's what we do today. And if we want to rapidly decarbonize that we need to supply, we're not saying don't electrify electrify as much as you can, but don't fail to decarbonize because we fail to fully electrify everything. And that's what we're worried about.
Robert Bryce 12:28
And that hydrogen fills that need, then for those difficult to decarbonize sectors then that you can use hydrogen
Eric Ingersoll 12:35
and most importantly, fuels made from hydrogen. So that
Robert Bryce 12:40
would be in particular ammonia was one of the one of the
Eric Ingersoll 12:43
ammonia and synthetic hydrocarbons. Yeah.
Robert Bryce 12:45
And NH three would allow you to and there is a lot of work around ammonia as a motor fuel because of the zero carbon emission at the point of view. So that, but let me let me back up for a moment. So Tara praksis, I know that you both have you been affiliated with other organizations, including lucid catalyst. What is Terra praxis, and I know it's a it's a new nonprofit and the name is on the report. But tell me tell me about Terra practice when it was formed and, and and who funded this report.
Eric Ingersoll 13:15
Kirsty, do you want to go ahead, Eric. Okay, so there's, there's there's been a very successful, you know, you Robert, a part of this Kirsti has been part of this in the past. There's, there's a kind of growing group of climate realists who recognize that nuclear energy could play a very important role in in our decarbonisation prospects. And this sort of activity and campaigning has to, you know, not completely but to a large degree successfully, sort of made the climate case and the, the sort of environmental justice case and the energy access case for the role of nuclear energy as part of a, you know, a completely clean energy system. And, but, but we still, you know, we're still kind of it, if you, if you sort of look at the discourse, we still end up having these kind of debates about, oh, should we keep the existing plants open or not? Or, you know, like, Can we really make large Light Water Reactors cheap enough for them to be a scalable solution and, and all these things, which are interesting and good questions, but they're not really kind of driving hard at these difficult to decarbonize sectors, and these difficult to decarbonize sectors are actually what's going to kill us. Like the fact if those fail to decarbonize, we're in a four degree world, three and a half or four degree world. So we need we saw both the need to get working On more scalable, rapidly deployable things that could address this decarbonisation challenge. And because we know a lot about nuclear technology and all this other stuff, we realized, wow, there's ways to redeploy, there's ways to take nuclear technology, package it into different deployment models, and actually directed at these difficult to decarbonize sectors.
Robert Bryce 15:25
And so those would be those would be Surface Transportation and aviation in particular, you're talking about here?
Eric Ingersoll 15:30
Yeah, shipping, well, fuels for heavy transportation, gas, you know, hydrogen for gas networks. And then there's, even though there's a lot of progress in in rolling out low cost, clean energy, lots of the projections show that in the developing world, we'll still be running a lot of coal plants in the 2040s and 2050s. Somewhere between
Robert Bryce 15:56
Terra practice was formed them to push this agenda, then Is that a fair I'm just guessing
Eric Ingersoll 16:01
well to to help architect solutions out of out of the technologies that are standing around, and then to really kind of launch those solutions into the kind of commercialization ecosystems that can help deploy them at large scale. So,
Kirsty Gogan 16:20
you know, it's interesting is that we haven't really applied the same kind of creativity, and thinking around business models that have led to the success we've seen in in wind and solar, you know, so wind and solar have really benefited from very dramatic cost reduction, and increased rates of deployment. And that's partly as a result of a very concerted, deliberate effort to make those technologies as viable as they are today and begin the job of transforming the global electricity system. We just haven't applied that kind of thinking, and innovation to nuclear technologies. And much of the innovation that we described in the missing link report, isn't actually to do with reactor designs and the nuclear technology itself, it's actually to do with the application of the particular attributes that we see, which is the production of high temperature, heat, low cost, power, high capacity factors and a tiny environmental footprint. But the real innovation is in moving into high productivity, manufacturing environments that can roll out really large numbers of these really large, complex, highly regulated machines that that need to perform, you know, an important job, but ultimately can produce very, very large amounts of drop in substitute fuels that are cost competitive with fossil fuels today. And if that's the that's the innovation, it's moving into shipyards, it's moving into high productivity environments, and it's moving, it's it's reimagining how you how you deliver these advanced heat sources to be really, really useful, designed to the problem that they're trying to solve.
Robert Bryce 17:59
Sure, so I want to get to the shipyards discussion. But just to be clear, then, so the terror practice, then is a US NGO that is based in the US what is the what's the word say, We're
Kirsty Gogan 18:09
based in the UK in the US. And we are, you know, as Eric said, we're, we're sort of architecting these, these solutions, but, you know, our, our kind of shared mission is sort of thought leadership and originality hopefully in in bringing, you know, fresh ideas for how to solve difficult problems into the world, but then engaging directly with actors in order to operationalize those ideas. So
Robert Bryce 18:42
when you say actors, you're talking about commercial commercial deployment, and, and fostering commercial deployment,
Kirsty Gogan 18:48
policy support, investor confidence, commercial realization, regulatory interactions, communities, you know, customers, all the all the all the sort of ecosystem of actors that will be needed to actually realize these ideas in the realm
Eric Ingersoll 19:08
of Robert like, a way to think about this is that it's sort of like you have the primordial soup, right, and eventually, the primordial
Unknown Speaker 19:22
Eric Ingersoll 19:24
You have the primordial soup, and somehow, you know, molecules that we now consider to be part of life came out of that thing, but okay, for many, many years, it was just kind of random, you know, chemicals and molecules just bumping into each other. And we can't allow the kind of random process of solution development to happen, because we don't have time to do that. So we need to be carefully screening and designing the solutions to be highly scalable and highly cost efficient, and to fit into existing supply chains, and to make use of things that are already at scale in our economy. So
Kirsty Gogan 20:12
I'm taking into account the need for all, you know, to increase global access to energy as well, which is another very important missing detail that we find in lots of other climate mitigation strategies. You know, the, the, the forecast that I mentioned earlier, about half of our world's energy coming from fossil fuels by 2050, you know, not only builds out in that includes a very large amount of, of wind and solar being successfully deployed, but also assumes that up to 3 billion people will lack access to any electricity at all. Which, you know, we find to be not a success case. That's right.
Robert Bryce 20:52
Yes, that would be the understatement. So in terms of the the the funding, who funded the report, what were the origins? Who, how did you? How did you come about making this? How did Where did the money come from?
Eric Ingersoll 21:09
So this was a, this was, you know, writing in the evenings and on weekends, and,
Kirsty Gogan 21:17
you know, there was no funding,
Eric Ingersoll 21:20
there was no funding, and it was a very extensive process, it took almost two years of work, if you kept all the research and the many drafts and so forth. So it was it was a, it was a kind of an all equity contribution by by our team. And but we're, you know, that the kind of effort and focus, you know, because it because it really wasn't for someone else, it was for us, it was us kind of putting our, our vision and our concern first. And really, you know, this, this, this report is really designed to be read by large fuel users and large fuel companies as a pathway to becoming the solution to climate change instead of the cause of climate change.
Robert Bryce 22:26
Got it? So if I can jump in Jensen to the mechanics of this, so I've been following the hydrogen discussion, and hydrogen comes in lots of different colors. Can you explain just briefly, and I do mean, briefly, because I don't want to get bogged down too far. Here. This green, blue gray? Well, no, no,
Kirsty Gogan 22:43
we don't. Well, I don't I personally, I don't subscribe. Really, if it's anything, this is green hydrogen, if Green means carbon, zero carbon, which is what frankly, it should mean. Because when it comes to climate change, the only metric that we should be paying attention to is carbon intensity. And, and then after that, we should be paying attention to costs. And we should be paying attention to availability, and scale, and rates of deployment. Those are the kinds of metrics that we should care about when we think about our challenge in terms of, you know, full netzero carbon emissions by 2050. We've been we've spent all year last year talking about how we have 30 years to 2050. We've got 29 years now. So if anything, but then green, but I really don't want to spend too much energy arguing with people about you know, whether green should be renewable or, you know, this is fair enough.
Robert Bryce 23:35
But it's the, your point is that the hydrogen production has to ultimately be zero carbon as it's in the manufacturing
Kirsty Gogan 23:43
and ideally carbon negative and that's, that's even more fun. But okay, that's, that's
Robert Bryce 23:50
ultimately then to do that you're talking about it one is some in one way or another an electrolyzer, you're splitting water, he's putting the water molecule, right. Okay. So you had a good section in the in the report about the importance of detailing the energy output of various electricity generators at that table is going to be very helpful for me, by the way, because I'm always doing these calculations and figure out okay, what's the factor? How many, many hours per year than doing the math? So why is capacity factor? You're talking about electrolyzing? Water, h2o, you're splitting off the the hydrogen from the oxygen. Why is capacity factor so important? When you're talking about that and original source of energy to produce hydrogen? Why do you need high capacity factors that has high utilization rates, why does that matter?
Eric Ingersoll 24:36
It matters because the the capex of the system is, is depreciated over the number of hours that the system operates and if you have a low capacity factor system, like if you have a PV plant in Germany, connected to an electrolyzer, the electrolyzer costs more or less Much as the PV plant on a per kilowatt basis, and you're, you know, the capacity factor for PV in Germany is around nine or 10%. So that means you're operating that plant nine or 10% of the time. And so you have to recover all the capital and fixed Oh nm, over a very small number of kilograms of hydrogen, if you could operate the same plant 90% of the time, you know, you would be producing 10 times as much hydrogen with the same capital, let's say, or, let's say your capital cost two times, or three times as much, even if it costs three times as much, if you were producing 10 times as much, you would be, you know, your your capex per kilogram would have gone down by more than a third or so. That's
Kirsty Gogan 25:58
so, so one of the kind of big goals that we set out with for with this report was to kind of improve the literacy and how we talk about the role of hydrogen as a climate solution. And one of the really important sort of details there was understanding what drives the cost of hydrogen production. And you can see that we have, you know, quite an extensive chapter on that in the report, and you've absolutely nailed it, its capacity factor is the number one driver, even when you get, you know, capital costs for wind and solar falling as we expect them to do. And we expect electrolyzers to get cheaper as well, they're still going to be more expensive for the hydrogen that's produced than an alternative technology with a higher capacity factor. And ultimately, what we'll see is wind and solar combining to have a larger capacity factor, which is great, because if you combine wind and solar projects, you might get up to like 70% capacity factor, and that will lower the cost of the hydrogen produced, but it will be really constrained by location, because you have to go to places that are yet where you have a lot of sun and a lot of wind, and those places like Western Australia, or wherever they tend to be quite remote. And then you need to build in your add in your costs of moving the hydrogen from those places, which, you know, McKenzie are indicating could put, you know, double the cost. So, so these, these are important details, when we're thinking and at the time when we were writing the report, you know, a lot of the hydrogen discussion was being driven by renewables industries that were interested in using their surplus energy. So you know overbuilding in a system and then using the surplus energy for making hydrogen, which is great. Okay, absolutely, let's do that. But there's two big problems with that as a strategy if we're talking about hydrogen being a central tool for supporting the decarbonisation of our liquid fuels. And the first one is the cost because it's, you're using a fraction of the capacity factor of that already quite low capacity factor technology. So it's going to be expensive. And then secondly, it's going to produce a very, very small amount of hydrogen.
Robert Bryce 28:05
Right. So if I could jump in, I think that just you know, the thoughts that jump in my head when you're talking about that is my takeaways, as you're saying that, as I've looked at the report are the absolute importance of both capacity factor and power density. And that that only can be answered by I'm going to say the word nuclear, you can say advanced heat sources, I understand why you're, you know, what you're saying there. But those capacity factors are important, just the way I would read that back to you is that if you're going to build a big expensive machine that manufactures widgets, or whatever, the more you run it, the more widgets you can produce the lower cost of every widget so that that and electrolyzers are expensive. So I've been hearing if there
Eric Ingersoll 28:47
is if there is one additional there's or there's one additional feature here which is important, which is that which is hate heat and the high temperature electrolysis or alternatively thermo chemical production of hydrogen, which doesn't require have making electricity first and then converting the electricity into hydrogen. And those two methods either in the case of high temperature electrolysis, improve the efficiency of electrolysis dramatically by using by doing electrolysis of steam, rather than have high temperature steam rather than water and thermo chemical which just uses heat to run through a kind of a refinery type process that doesn't have waste products to make hydrogen. Those two approaches both have higher efficiency have considerably higher efficiency. So, you know with a high temperature reactor height, high temperature electrolysis can be about 90% efficient, which you know, electrolyzers today are some between 60 and 65%, efficient, right? So that that's a very, that's a 50% increase in efficiency, right, or 30 30% increase in efficiency. And the, the, the effect of of that is, you know, it's not like so one thing that we do in the report, which is, which is really helpful, is we differentiate between sort of like crazy high production costs, which are, you know, in the sort of three, four or five $6, a kilogram realm, which is, so a lot of the discussion about hydrogen prior to this year, basically, nobody ever talked about the cost of any of it. Right. So in addition to improving the literacy around kind of what it is, that drives the cost of hydrogen, we also wanted to make people really kind of think hard about what what it means for hydrogen to cost a certain amount. So there's a line on our chart, which shows the highest oil prices ever, and the sort of highest natural gas LNG traded prices ever. And what you can see is that people are talking about making hydrogen for prices that are twice the highest oil price that we've ever experienced in our economy. And that's just not going to work. What Right, well, it's, it's not, it's like a kind of weird discussion, it's not technically or economically relevant to, to, you know, anything, really. So there's this kind of whole discussion about renewables and hydrogen, where the prices that they're talking about are just, you know, completely disconnected from anything that's commercially useful, then there's this discussion about how in the future, you know, we might get down between two and $1. Hydrogen, if we, you know, building huge projects in Australia and all of that, but, you know, there's the cost of transporting it, and so forth. But, and but that, you know, frankly, that could be useful, right, that kind of those kind of large projects making very cheap hydrogen can be useful. But the, the thing about the thermo chemical approach, and the and the heat assisted electrolysis approaches is that those don't make a difference. If you're, if you're comparing six to $5. Hydrogen, it's not very, it doesn't really matter, because they're both too high. But if you're down at $1.70, or $1.50, and then you can switch from conventional electrolysis to heat assisted electrolysis, that brings you down to a dog. That's transformative. Because really, these, you know, what we're going back to what we said about what was needed here, what we need is cost competitive, synthetic, droppin fuels,
Robert Bryce 32:56
right? Because of the scale, the scale of the system is so
Eric Ingersoll 33:00
scale and, and speed, right? If you don't make it the same price, you can't force everybody to use that thing. If you can make it the same price and drop in, what's the argument against, you know, like, is it cheaper to save the world than to destroy it? You know, that kind of thing?
Robert Bryce 33:19
So so so let me let me interrupt here, because I'm, you know, I've followed the energy business for a little while. And I, a few weeks ago, I found it was a 2004 study by the National Research Council and the National Academy of Engineering. And they cited a 2003, George W. Bush State of the Union speech where he talked about hydrogen. Anyway, from from this 2004 study, it said, reading the hydrogen system must be cost competitive, it must be safe and appealing to the consumer. And it would preferably offer advantages from the perspective of energy security and co2 emissions, specifically for the transportation sector, dramatic progress in the development of fuel cells, storage devices, and distribution systems is especially critical. Widespread success is not certain. So if this is maybe, you know, I have a couple of other questions that are just gonna, you know, fire at you that are skeptical ones. But what's changed? I mean, if there's anything in that assessment from now, 1617 years ago, is anything. Yeah.
Kirsty Gogan 34:16
the urgency of climate change.
Eric Ingersoll 34:19
Okay, and, and the fact that you know, every time you say hydrogen, I correct you and say hydrogen enabled fuels.
Kirsty Gogan 34:28
So we are one of the things that we're not talking about direct use of hydrogen as an end use fuel. One of the reasons why the hydrogen needs to be so cheap is because of this idea that we need drop in substitute fuels. Because of the scale and the urgency of what we're trying to achieve here in terms of the clean energy transition, we we want to de risk that decarbonisation that decarbonisation effort as much as possible by enabling the existing The continued use of existing infrastructure as much as possible
Robert Bryce 35:05
internal combustion engines then show that Yeah, you wouldn't necessarily need fuel cells.
Kirsty Gogan 35:10
You don't need fuel cells. You can use today's engines, today's distribution, transport and storage infrastructure as much as possible. We don't want to have our entire climate mitigation strategy, depending upon the additional additional investment on new pipelines and new storage infrastructure and new engines and new hardware because, frankly, where's that money going to come from? Firstly, and then secondly, how can we ensure that that investment is going to happen and be sequenced in the appropriate way and as widespread away and to enable complete decarbonisation?
Robert Bryce 35:44
Fair enough? So it's a good point to make? So what you're saying is that you're talking about hydrogen enabled fuel. So you're still I mean, one of the reasons liquid fuels have been so successful is because they're liquid easily handle at a certain temperature, and they don't require special special tankage. So, okay, thank you. That's, that's a good distinction. So what are the biggest impediments? You talk about this the price point that you're aiming for less than $1 a kilogram? Well, let me ask the hard question was, so what are the biggest impediments to wider deployment of nuclear?
Unknown Speaker 36:20
Robert Bryce 36:27
mature heat sources are advanced, but
Kirsty Gogan 36:31
cost and speed and scale
Unknown Speaker 36:32
and payment model?
Kirsty Gogan 36:34
Yeah, yeah. And so so cost we we work we we've done we spent years doing work on understanding what drives the cost of nuclear energy deployment looking at, you know, we've done large studies on conventional gigawatt scale, like water construction and understanding why there's such a big range in cost outcomes today. And, of course, you know, what's immediately, sort of obvious to us in Europe in the United States, is that recent nuclear build construction has been expensive and slow. But those projects are first of a kind first, and the generation projects that, surprisingly, are not representative at all, have recently built construction elsewhere in the world, where, you know, tech projects, leadership and teams have become very, very experienced and skilled at delivering even, you know, standard construction, gigawatt scale, light water reactors, very, very cost effectively for like a third half, or even a third of the price that we're seeing in the United States and Europe. So we understand those, you know, there's those outcomes very well. But if you move away from low productivity construction, or very, very complex light water reactors, to highly simplified designs in being developed in high productivity, manufacturing environments, where you have high levels of automation and extremely high quality control, parallel isolation, you know, think much more of a sort of, you know, the world, a world class, massive factory environment, you can achieve very, very compressed schedules, much higher degrees of budget and schedule certainty, and very high quality outcomes.
Robert Bryce 38:31
So that's where we go, so let's jump to that because then the target here is $1 or less per kilo for per kilogram per kilogram of hydrogen. And then in your discussion of shipyard, you're also targeting roughly $1,000 per kilowatt of generation capacity, which is roughly the cost of new combined cycle gas turbines, natural gas turbines. So
Eric Ingersoll 38:54
when you enable sharing Robert so I can share some pictures.
Robert Bryce 38:58
Um, well, we could accept it. I'd rather rather not do that now just simply because most of our listeners are on audio and so okay, they won't they won't benefit from the photos. But I think that the I mean, the ship so why does the shipyard dig to that point and I've in my book, I followed what Thor Khan is doing. I quote Robert Hargraves, and their that's their model right to the to use shipyards to build their reactor design in molten salt. So why is the shipyard and I'm assuming you're familiar with their work, but why is the shipyard you you specifically and went into that in some detail in your report about why this is the the model manufacturing model that would make the most sense for producing gigawatt and will really we need terawatts scale deployment of nuclear why the ship Why are the shipyards the model to be deployed here in this on this mass production of hydrogen?
Eric Ingersoll 39:54
Right So building on what Kirsty was just saying about needing to move to a low marginal cost manufacture based model, you really have, you know, you have sort of two ends of the spectrum, that two strategies that you can employ. One is to bring the manufacturing facility to your project. So, essentially make the project delivered through a manufacturing approach. And the other one is to bring your project to the manufacturing facility. And that means to make your entire production facility in a factory. So in this case, we're interested in fuels and producing fuels powered by an advanced heat source. So we look at the kinds of facilities that can make you know, how do you make a large floating production platform? How do you make? How do you make something that's as big as a like an ammonia factory, but in a factory, right? How do you make an ammonia plant in a factory, right, and really, the only things that the only factories that we have that make things that big our shipyards, right,
Unknown Speaker 41:09
and they already made for the oil and gas sector,
Eric Ingersoll 41:12
right for the oil and gas sector. So what they make is floating production and storage and offloading systems, which are taken to a place where there's a supply of fossil fuel, either gas or liquids, or both, usually offshore, and they connect to the pipes that were put in place by the drill rigs. And that, that that chemical plant, that processing facility, sits there takes the stuff out of the ground, and processes it cleans it up, gets the sulfur out, you know, turns it into the right kind of liquids, and then stores it until a tanker comes along and picks it up and takes it off to market. Right. So these, there are hundreds of these things all over the world. These are produced in shipyards. In many cases, there's been a just converting old ships that are no longer being used for you know, tankers or whatever, they bring them into a shipyard and put all that equipment on them and then use them right for that purpose. So we basically took what is a very successful model. And we, we, which is the model that the target industry that we're looking to uses today for doing this. And it uses the supply chain that they already use to make these things. And they've already figured out how to make them cheap and safe. And you know, last a long time and all of that. And so we just reimagined a different kind of fpso, one that doesn't require the, the well into the earth. And, but that you can deliver to either locations where it's advantageous to cite these things for various reasons, or to locations that are close to the markets where you want to deliver the product. Right? Oh, the the fact that you have a advanced heat source powering this whole thing means that you have an additional degree of freedom that you don't have. It actually it actually means a couple things which are important, the most obvious one is that you can you have much more freedom about where you cite it. But there's it turns out, as we learned more about the way these fpss are made today, each hydrocarbon reservoir is quite distinct and unique. And it will have a different amount of sulfur and a different amount of you know, h2 s and carbon dioxide and liquids to gas and all of that stuff. And so you need actually a very specifically designed plant to process that, that resource. Sure. So actually, they end up designing them each time for those specific resources that they're going to
Kirsty Gogan 44:06
which is one of a really good way to make things expensive
Robert Bryce 44:12
to make them bespoke on but so what's your so what you're talking about and just to close up the shipyard point is that this is the this is the infrastructure that exists now that gives you the manufacturing base with the skilled workers that can allow you to scale at a gigawatt and terawatt scale exactly actors and and stamp them out. And you made an interesting point that they're only operating at something like 50% of capacity now something like correct.
Kirsty Gogan 44:37
This is this is where the gold is Robert because we have available shipyard capacity. They're only operating the world class shipyards that we're talking about are already only operating at around 50% capacity. And many other shipyards around the world could easily be upgraded for this kind of production opportunity. But the beauty of this is that we're leveraging existing industrial capable ability in the shipyards, but also known quantities in the oil and gas sectors to create a third option for the oil and gas sectors that today are facing a choice between extinction or business as usual, neither of which is a good option for any of us.
Robert Bryce 45:18
So let me talk about the issue one of the parts of the report that frankly I, you know, really responded to, because it's a lot of my work has been around it, but you talk about footprints, I'm quoting here, you say and by the way, I'm interrupting myself here, but my guests Eric Ingersoll and Kirsty gogan are the co founders of Terra praxis, a nonprofit that is based in the US and the UK and they are at Terra praxis.org. It's spelled like it sounds TW or a pra XPRAX is.org. But about the land of footprint, you say that the that you're talking about relatively small physical and environmental footprint allowing large areas of land to be spared for rewilding and regeneration of natural ecosystems, unlikely energy sprawl associated with countryside renewables, industrial developments or extensive use of biomass. And you specifically cite a solar project, the Cleve hills solar project, which I don't know if it's been green lighted or not in Kent 350 megawatts over 387 hectares, you said this is the use your point that where the gold is, we calculated would take 76 Cleve hills, covering an area of 295 square kilometers to generate the same amount of energy as the proposed size will see nuclear plant. So you're talking about a massive footprint for renewables? What my question is, and I really responded to the area. Well, I've got another citation here that you from your report, why is why do so few academic reports talk about the land use implications, because this seems to be the fundamental limit increasingly, both in the US and the UK and Europe, in Australia. And it's not just about the generation plants themselves, but also the transmission lines. So why is this? I really loved that in your report, why are so other academic reports looking at this I'm looking at as a real constraint.
Eric Ingersoll 47:13
I think this goes back to the comment that I made right at the beginning of the of the show, which is that we come to this as climate hawks, we want to we want a plausible path that meets the requirements for energy, equity, energy access, and also decarbonize as our system within the timeframe that the climate can climate science community has said, we need to do this by that's different than being a tribal technology advocate for a given technology. And there are plenty of people who are tribal advocates for nuclear. And there are plenty of people who are tribal advocates for renewables. And people need to get out of advocacy mode and get into practical problem solving mode. And right now, right now, right now, the whole, the whole discourse about climate is stuck in a kind of everyone thinks that the goal is to convince somebody of something, and to advocate for your technology and all this. And so there isn't really an interest to explore the practicalities of doing this. And maybe you know what, when I look at it, I see that there's an opportunity to deploy a very large amount of wind and solar, in the right places in the right ways. But but but that is going to be quite limited in the in the later decades. And in the meantime,
Robert Bryce 48:50
it's already being being limited now. But Well, yeah,
Eric Ingersoll 48:53
but but my point is, my point is whether you think there's a large amount in the near term, or a medium amount, we should still do it. And we should still get as much clean energy built as possible. But but recognizing that that's not going to be the complete game. In fact, it's going to be a modest part of the game, we need to really start designing these broader solutions today and getting them kind of really locked to build, you know, installed into the kind of delivery ecosystems that will make them be able to deliver those. And so I think the real issue is that people are still thinking that another paper or another study showing how renewables can do all this stuff is what's needed. There's already been hundreds of those, what's needed is to move to the next level of looking at practically how do we do this stuff. And that's hard for renewables. And it's hard for people in the nuclear space as well, because we can't just put nukes everywhere and
Kirsty Gogan 49:51
yeah, so one of the things that our our report sorry, Eric, to interrupt you, but we we we sort of really deliberately does lining a strategy that doesn't compete with the, with the intended strategy for renewables. You know, we're we're sort of assuming that wind and solar are going to take care of the lion's share of the decarbonisation of the electricity sector. And we're going after parts of the economy that are currently not forecast to be decarbonize and developing strategies that are employing really underutilized supply chain industrial capability. And designing deployment on for footprints that are not competing with parts of the land or sea, that are bookmarked for decarbonisation of electricity with wind and solar. So the offshore wind, you know, deployment in the UK, which is likely to form the backbone of the future UK electricity system, for example, is going to take up a large chunk of the North Sea. And our point is that we can't double count that for hydrogen production as well.
Robert Bryce 51:02
So because there's not going to be enough juice coming from those from those turbans, so do you have to build four times as much if you wanted to
Eric Ingersoll 51:11
also do that enough hydrogen to make to decarbonize the rest of the system, right?
Robert Bryce 51:17
Well to do points, when I mentioned wanted to mention just on the shipyards what's interesting to me, in the film, and in my new book, we went to Beirut and saw the power ships offshore in Beirut.
Kirsty Gogan 51:28
Yeah, I was really happy to see that.
Robert Bryce 51:31
When you're talking about, essentially, you're talking about power ships, but nuclear power ships and the and rasa Tom already has deployed the world's first power ship into pivec, in Siberia, but obviously, just providing electricity for that for that town. But still, the competition in the power ship market now is is, is it's defined by fuel fuel oil fired power ships, like we saw in Lebanon. And some of these companies are moving to LNG, but But anyway, that's one of the attributes of the this idea of the ship based reactors is that there can be deployed to coastal cities, and that's where most of the world's population is deployed, or that where most people live is on is in coastal areas. So that was what seems to me on one of the on the face of it, one of the advantages.
Kirsty Gogan 52:14
Yeah, so we have a multiproduct platform in the report, which is making is making electricity that's cabled in to shore, we were assuming that this would be mod off the coast of Ghana, for example, cabling power in as needed for for the for the grid, but also producing hydrogen and ammonia that can be used the ammonia, of course, to be used in diesel generators and engines and even gas turbines, without emissions. So another very, very useful product, and then using the waste heat, from the advanced heat sources to desalinate enough water for the entire city region of Accra at no additional cost without sort of taking away from the production of the other commodities. And for me, this is really exciting, because we know that we know that financing major infrastructure projects and developing countries is extremely challenging. And many of these countries in Africa, like Ghana, for example, Kenya, but as there's at least 10 African countries interested in pursuing nuclear energy, to support their economic growth and development are having to sort of step through, you know, decades long processes with the IAEA and everything to establish the mature regulatory capability to be able to build operate and maintain nuclear plants. So this could be a way of delivering the benefits of high density, very low cost, power, heat, hydrogen to those to those countries. And now
Robert Bryce 53:58
with financing projects, reactors onshore.
Kirsty Gogan 54:01
Yeah. And without waiting for decades to be able to access those benefits. So, you know, this is a really important development opportunity as well.
Eric Ingersoll 54:11
And, you know, we I understand why you like to use the word nuclear, but to us that's not nuclear energy as it is today, that is so profoundly different in its method of delivery. And it's, you know, impact in its social requirements in its financing models. You know, you can go to I mean, what Thor Khan has sort of demonstrated and will, you know, fire up is that they can, they can take the most, the worst investment thing that's sort of hardest product to buy in the world is a nuclear plant, right? They, the vendors can't tell you when it's going to be done. They can't tell you what it's going to cost. It'll probably bankrupt your company. I mean, like, it is the worst product that the most difficult products. Buy. By by delivering that through shipyard, you make it into a fixed schedule fixed price, you know, guaranteed delivery, you basically make it from almost impossible to buy and finance into something that's, you know, almost like buying a car. Okay? And that is the transformation
Robert Bryce 55:20
of customer doesn't pay the bill, then you sail the ship away, right then
Eric Ingersoll 55:25
they're back, you know, when
Robert Bryce 55:26
they repossess it right, which is what the Turks are doing in Lebanon, but are their option in Lebanon? Well, so let me just take another couple quick points here on the on the on the footprint issue, because you did some calculations on Japan. And you calculated the amount of territory needed to supplant Japan's oil use with hydrogen generated with wind or solar and you calculated offshore wind would take 2700 times more territory than nuclear. I mean, those are just to use a British as a gobsmacking numbers. So who did the calculations and how did you do it? Well, I did I figured I figured for New York, the Indian Point plant is about 1300 times more territory to replace Indian Point with wind years is 2700 times I guess your that includes the capacity factor, then I guess, is that the way you did it?
Eric Ingersoll 56:18
Yeah. So the basically, we look at the we use the kind of best offshore wind power and energy density numbers. And those are from the UK. And you have a bit of a trade off when you're building offshore wind farms, you can either make them slightly less power dense and get higher capacity factors, or you can make the more power dense and get lower capacity factors. The UK, which has a competitive auction, for the price of power is showing how you get low cost power from offshore wind farms, but you, you trade power density for that, but we assume that you need low cost to make hydrogen, so we use the lower power density numbers. And you can convert that into an amount of kilowatt hours and convert those kilowatt hours into hydrogen using low temperature electrolysis. And that gives you essentially a kind of tons of hydrogen per square kilometer number. Right. Right. And, yeah, that when the readers take a look at our report, and they look at the pictures in the, in the report, where the maps where we do this, you know, one of the jokes when we give the presentations of those maps is can you find the place where the nuclear is
Kirsty Gogan 57:45
so tiny, because it's
Eric Ingersoll 57:46
so timely, and we actually had to change the color that we use in the maps to make it something brighter, otherwise, people just couldn't find the nuclear footprint and so small that it kind of was hard to find on the map.
Kirsty Gogan 57:59
So this is a good opportunity for sort of energy independence for any country that wants it, which is pretty extraordinary with this option. But the other thing that's really interesting is that you completely transform the prospects for for nuclear technology as we know it today, which generally you think about siting close to transmission, tethered to a power purchase agreements, close to the electricity can, you know market that you're serving, but when you move into commodities production, when you're making fuels that can be stored and transported and exported anywhere in the world, suddenly, you're liberated in terms of where you where you sight, so that your location you can go to where you locate your project where you want. But you can also then build a really large project. So you're not constrained anymore by the size of the power market, and the customer what the customer is prepared to buy from us unit by unit, you could have a Giga factory scale production, for example, which is the factory to the project, which is 36, advanced heat sources producing a large amount of hydrogen 10 of those with would completely replace all of the UK, his current oil and gas consumption. And so you could have like a single country in the world deciding to become a global supplier of clean synthetic fuels to the world, you could have a group of African countries deciding to procure clean synthetic fuels to enable a really rapid clean switch, you know, in their country without necessarily needing to host those facilities in their country. So there's all kinds of flexibility and versatility enabled by this model. That can help accelerate the clean energy transition.
Robert Bryce 59:44
Sure. When when just quick interjection on the the scale and the footprint issue is the way I've thought about that is the lower the power density, the higher the resource intensity, always everywhere, right if you have low power density, you have to counteract it with other inputs. Copper, steel land, you know, case of ethanol, you know, fertilizer etc. So, but I thought of the many points you make in the report, to me some of the most convincing parts were the maps and just showing that footprint because it was
Kirsty Gogan 1:00:15
so nefarious maps. We love those maps, right? But
Robert Bryce 1:00:20
it makes the complex simple, right? And, you know, a picture is worth 1000, or two or three or 4000 words, in this case by saying, here's what the footprint would look like, and here's what would you would need. And I think that that, those kinds of things, you know, make it as simple as you can, and no simpler But anyway, I commend you for that. Okay, so what are the what are the last few questions? We've been talking for about an hour already? So what are the next steps are the report and when when will two questions? What are the next steps? And how's it been received?
Eric Ingersoll 1:00:50
Well, we've had an unbelievable reception for this report. Both generally. So you know, various publications and conferences have been very excited about it. But we're also starting to get the real target for us was to change the thinking at the major fossil fuel suppliers, change the thinking at the people who supply the liquid fuels to the planet. And one, one graph I wanted to mention, Robert, is the is the we have a chart that shows what the investment costs to replace the fossil fuel industry would be. And it shows that the cost of replacing it with this approach is less than the cost of continuing to invest in producing fossil fuels. And it's, and that in our cost, the cost for the strategy, the missing link strategy is about 1/5 of the investment cost of doing it with renewables. So so the, you know, I think when when people see when they kind of see the kind of pictures that we have in there, which makes it quite concrete, and when they read the section on how you achieve the economics, and when they see this thing about the that it's actually cheaper to save the world than it is to keep burning it up. It's really, it's really kind of going into certain locations, certain receptor sites in our, in our economy, and people are really, you know, we're, for example, people are telling us like, this is the most important document that I've ever read.
Robert Bryce 1:02:38
And that's good feedback.
Kirsty Gogan 1:02:40
That's not so bad. Yeah, I think one of the things that I've noticed is, is that it actually Well, the goal is that we create some hope that actually, this is parts of the of the problem that we thought couldn't be solved, actually could be solved. And that those industries that had otherwise been facing very tough choices, like we were saying, a moment ago, extinction or business as usual, neither of which are very appealing, actually do have an alternative. And, you know, I think much of the kind of discourse around climate and energy as we started out describing has been constrained by a narrow set of technology options. And that by thinking creatively, and applying these tools that we have available to us, in very new ways, we we not only sort of increase our chances of actually decarbonizing in time, but we also increase our, our chances of doing it cost effectively and feasibly and in a way that will be publicly acceptable, and that we'll be able to maintain our quality of life and even extend our quality of life that we enjoy today to to to the rest of the world.
Eric Ingersoll 1:04:04
And we are we were just beginning really the kind of more thorough outreach with the report. So we're starting to brief oil companies and, and large energy, large fuels users, like people in shipping and in aviation. And we've we've also just finished translating the report into Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Spanish. And so there'll be kind of for each one of those languages. There'll be a whole outreach strategy. Because this is really a global strategy. And, you know, this isn't about convincing some policymakers in the US or that we have to, we have to change the whole liquid fuels ecosystem, right, the whole liquid fuels market and that's, you know, large amounts of that liquid fuel are sold to Asia. countries. Sure. And
Robert Bryce 1:05:02
it's and it's a very big market 100 million barrels a day is a lot of
Eric Ingersoll 1:05:06
water. And also, most of the ships in the world, the large ships in the world are made in Korea, Japan or China. And so we're we're also very interested in kind of bringing that case to those folks and having them really start thinking about how they could redeploy their, their nuclear assets and their their shipbuilding assets, to meet their own fuel needs, but also to make products that can help meet the broader needs for liquid fuels around the world. Good.
Robert Bryce 1:05:43
So a quick reminder here, my guests are Christy gogan, and Eric Ingersoll. They're the co founders of Terra practice, a nonprofit group at Terra practice.org. We've been talking about their their report, recent report called missing link to a livable climate, how hydrogen enabled synthetic fuels can help deliver the Paris goals. So last two questions for both of you. And maybe we can keep your replies short on this. But questions I always like to end with. So what are you reading? You're a fiction reader nonfiction reader. What do you do when you're not thinking about shipyards in terawatts scale?
Kirsty Gogan 1:06:18
That's that's a nice, easy one. Because Eric and I both just read the same book, which is called the ministry for the future by Kim Stanley Robinson. And it's, it's a wonderful sort of scientific science fiction book about about climate change. And we're all including you, Robert, and many of your listeners, I'm sure characters in this book, because really, it's about the sort of very varied and, you know, the multiplicity of efforts that is going to be required to achieve the transition within within meaningful timescales, avoid catastrophic climate outcomes.
Robert Bryce 1:07:00
And do so for the ministry for the future is the book. Yeah. Okay.
Eric Ingersoll 1:07:06
Although the missing link report is kind of also like the missing chapter from that book, that's one of the things that they talk about in the book is that air travel and shipping, get sort of shut down by eco terrorists. And so, we think that, I mean, I think that's possible in the future. But it's also possible that we can provide clean synthetic fuels that are carbon neutral, or carbon negative for those types of fuel uses, and, you know, actually not have to trade off between prosperity and, and solving the climate problem.
Robert Bryce 1:07:46
Got it? So last question, then what gives you hope?
Kirsty Gogan 1:07:54
Oh, gosh, well, you know, I'm very fortunate to work with very many wonderful, creative, motivated, you know, dedicated, compassionate people, you know, including Eric here. And that's, that's really that, that effort, that community that we have around us, that's, that's what gives me hope. We can do this.
Eric Ingersoll 1:08:24
And I guess, for me, the, the fact that we're kind of able to pull together a vision of, of ways to solve these problems, that a very large scale, and, you know, this, this was, there were a lot of people involved in writing this report. And, you know, many experts contributed and, and so, this is not just our work, but it's the work of a whole ecosystem of people, but but articulating it in a way that makes it comprehensible, makes it address the things that people really care about. And, and, and then having a real positive response, that's, you know, that could lead to actual deployment of these types of solutions. That that is, you know, you always hope that the humans will sort of come to their senses and, you know, in the end, after they've tried everything else do what makes sense. And, you know, we we feel like there's a real possibility that that could happen around these types of solutions.
Kirsty Gogan 1:09:39
Yeah. So don't cry work. That's, that's the motto.
Robert Bryce 1:09:46
Don't get to work. That's good. Well, I think that's a good spot to stop. Thanks very much to the guests, Christy gogan and Eric Ingersoll. They are the co founders of the nonprofit Terry praxis.org their new recent report missing link to a livable climate how hydrogen enabled synthetic fuels can help deliver the Paris goals can be found on their website. And I'm sure if you hit the Google, you can find it there as well, Kirsty and Eric Many thanks for joining us on the podcast. And thanks to all of you for listening today. If you've listened to this, give us 65 or 70 stars on the rates and tell your friends to do the same. And until next time, I will see you on the next edition of the power hungry podcast. Thanks again, y'all.