Tony Seba received the 2017 Clean Energy Action Sunshine Award

Tony Seba received the 2017 Clean Energy Action Sunshine Award for his contribution in accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy.

We are proud to share the Press Release launched by the Clean Energy Action:

Boulder, CO: On the 10th Anniversary of Clean Energy Action’s founding, the 2017 CLEAN ENERGY ACTION SUNSHINE AWARD can think of no one more deserving of this honor than Mr. Tony Seba.  As the author of several books, including Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation and Solar Trillions, as an educator at Stanford University, and as a leader in business and technology, Tony Seba exemplifies the qualities we seek to recognize with this award. Mr. Seba’s work has aided the cause of sustainability immeasurably, both by shedding light on the progress that has been made and by helping to illuminate the way forward, and it is in recognition of this work that we are honored to name our friend and sustainability champion the recipient of the 2017 Clean Energy Action Sunshine Award.

At this moment, when the world is unclear whether America will remain a leader in the clean energy revolution, it is ever more important to chronicle the resolute courage and optimistic voices of our new energy economy experts and champions of sustainability. Clean Energy Action has traditionally recognized our amazing supporters and advocates for all they personally do for people and planet.  The Sunshine Award acknowledges these individuals who have made significant contributions in the dissemination of new ideas, technologies and concepts and who, like the sun, take the light and heat of human ingenuity and help it to find its way out of academic journals and laboratories and into the mainstream of our culture and economy.

Clean Energy Action was founded more than a decade ago on the principle that education and empowering community action is the key to accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy and resilient economy.  While technological and important regulatory challenges persist, the true challenge comes in mobilizing the knowledge we have at our disposal and implementing it throughout our communities and our marketplaces.

About Tony Seba: Tony Seba is the author of “Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation”, “Solar Trillions” and “Winners Take All”, a serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and an instructor in Entrepreneurship, Disruption and Clean Energy at Stanford’s Continuing Studies Program. His work focuses on clean energy, entrepreneurship, market disruption, and the exponential technology trends, business model innovation, and product architecture innovations that are leading to the disruption of some of the world’s major industries, such as energy, transportation, infrastructure, finance, and manufacturing.

He is also a co-founder of the think tank RethinkX and co-author of the report “Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030” released in May 2017.

This report was also cited by Senator Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, on the presentation of Senate Bill 213 that puts the autonomous vehicles into state law, signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper on June 1st.  

 

 

 

Clean Disruption Korea Book Cover

Clean Disruption published in Korea

I’m happy to say that the Korean version of my book “Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation” has been published by Kyobo Book Centre, Korea’s largest bookseller.

Here’s the link to the book on Kyobo’s website:

Clean Disruption Korea Book Cover

Clean Disruption Korea Book Cover Published by Kyobo Book Centre

 

I mentioned in a previous post that there has been incredible interest in the Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation in South Korea.

Clean Disruption can also be bought online at Yes24.com here.

I’m looking forward to the positive impact of Clean Disruption in Korea!

 

Letter from Shanghai: the Solar Disruption is Accelerating!

Huawei SolarThe solar disruption is accelerating. I spent last week in Shanghai, where I attended the SNEC PV Power Expo 2015 and had the opportunity to meet with a number of global solar executives in China. Here are a few highlights and thoughts from the show.

1- Solar PV costs going down fast.

Solar PV production costs are about 45 ¢/W, according to Arturo Herrero, Chief Strategy Officer at JinkoSolar, a tier 1 Chinese PV manufacturer. Market prices are as low as 55 ¢/W for larger projects (80+MW) in markets without significant tariffs or anti-dumping measures (like the US), according to Mr. Herrero.

Tier-2 manufacturers generally compete on price so they have to sell for even less. I heard from several sources that tier-2 manufacturers are shipping product for less than 50 ¢/W.

 

2- Information Technology merging with Solar.

One of the premises of my book “Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation” is that solar is a technology and, as such, it’s governed by information economics and the increasing returns that characterize information products.

Huawei, the $46 billion (2014 revenues) telecommunications company has entered the solar market in a big way. At the SNEC PV show Huawei showed its “Smart PV Plant Management System”, a power plant monitoring solution that combines string inverters, smart loggers, wireless communication equipment, and a grid management center to monitor the power plants.

The marketing manager I spoke with at the show told me that Huawei had shipped 4 GW of smart PV plant product in 2014 and expected to ship 10 GW in 2015, which I found hard to believe. The company’s product collateral did say that the company had 5.5 GW in orders and 4GW in shipments for 2014.

Whatever the numbers are, Internet companies are finding out that the distributed technology nature of solar is very much in tune with the distributed nature of information technology.

 

3- China has achieved critical mass in solar PV manufacturing.

The SNEC solar expo was far larger than any solar expo I have been to. More than 150,000 attendees came to Shanghai to visit 1,500 companies covering 180,000 square meters of exhibition space. By comparison, Intersolar Europe 2014 had 42,300 attendees who came to visit 1,100 companies covering 88,000 m2 of exhibition space.

Most of the companies at the show were Chinese and they represented nearly every aspect of the solar PV manufacturing supply chain. China has probably achieved a critical mass in solar PV – which feeds the virtuous cycle of further gains in scale and innovation that lead to even lower production costs.

 

4- China is already the world’s largest PV market.

China installed more than 5 GW of new solar capacity the first quarter of this year. ([i]) This is just under the 5.6 GW that France has installed in its whole history. ([ii]) China is planning to install a total of 17.8 GW in 2015 which is just under the 18.3 GW that the United States had installed in history as of the end of 2014. ([iii])

By becoming both the world’s largest manufacturer and the world’s largest market, China can further increase innovation advantages that accrue when co-locating R&D, manufacturing and markets. This can push the PV learning curve even further – which leads to even lower cost of solar.

As PV costs keep going down, the solar disruption around the globe will accelerate even more.

SNEC Solar Expo 2015

SNEC Solar Expo 2015

 

 

 

5- Clean Disruption, Internet Disruption and Solar Disruption

Solar energy is pushing energy production, storage, and management to the edges (customer sites) from the center (centralized power plants). These distributed solar sites are getting smaller, smarter, more modular and connected.

The solar disruption has many of the same characteristics of the information technology disruption. Just like the Internet turned our information publishing world from centralized to distributed, we’re headed toward a distributed architecture of energy made possible not just by solar and storage, but also by software, sensors, artificial intelligence, mobile internet, big data, satellites, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and other exponentially improving technology.

Extraction-based economics (based on scarcity and increasing marginal costs) have no chance against solar and information-based economics (based on abundance and decreasing marginal costs.)

The solar disruption is accelerating!

 

Sources:

[i] http://www.pv-tech.org/news/china_officially_installed_5.04gw_of_new_solar_capacity_in_q1

[ii] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_France

[iii] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_the_United_States

“It’s a one-two Punch” PV Magazine 4-page interview with Tony Seba

 

PV Magazine Cover, January 2015 issue.

The solar industry is starting to believe. Solar is a disruptive technology and, when combined with other disruptive technologies such as electric vehicles and self-driving cars it will disrupt the energy infrastructure.

PV Magazine interviewed me about the Clean Disruption, the future of energy and the role that solar PV is playing in that disruption.

Here’s one of the questions that Edgar Meza asked me. The magazine has kindly allowed me to share the entire interview in PDF form here.

What characteristics of PV make it disruptive?

Here are several characteristics of PV that make it disruptive

1-  PV dematerializes energy. To understand this concept, think of how digital photography disrupted film photography. With digital imaging, photography went from atoms (film) to bits (digital), from something material that you had to manufacture for every single picture to something immaterial that is essentially free. Today energy is like film photography was in the 20th century. Every time you flip a switch you burn fossil fuels or uranium. Every time you hit the car pedal you burn petroleum. Solar PV dematerializes energy by turning the sunshine photons directly into electrons and bits. You don’t burn anything to charge your computer. The same thing happens if you charge your electric vehicle with solar energy.

2-  PV demonetizes energy. Again, think of digital cameras disrupting film photography. Each time you took a picture you burned film so Kodak made money. Then if you actually wanted to look at the picture you had to pay more money to Kodak for the paper and the chemicals that went into processing the film. With digital photography the cost of taking each additional picture, storing it, sharing it, and watching it is essentially zero. This is exactly what solar PV does to energy. Once you install a PV power plant the marginal cost of energy is essentially zero. Just like Kodak could not compete with a marginal cost of zero, there is no way on earth that energy companies can compete with solar marginal cost of zero.

3-  PV has increasing returns. PV is a technology whose costs have gone down by roughly 22% every two years for decades. Essentially the more PV is adopted the more everyone benefits from everyone else’s adoption of PV.

4-  PV is scale-free. The same technology works to power a 1W light bulb, a 1kW house, a 1MW business, a 10MW factory, a 100 MW town, a 1 GW city and a 100 GW country. This is much like information technology is scale free: our mobile phones, laptop computer and the most massive data centers work with similar modular technology building blocks.

5-  It flips the architecture of energy. PV essentially flips the architecture of energy the way that the web flipped the architecture of publishing. In the old days publishing used to be done by a few companies who owned large centralized printers. They decided what would be published and pushed it down to the users. Now everyone with a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account is a publisher. The same dynamics work for PV: everyone can generate energy as well as information.

When you combine these disruptive characteristics of PV with the complementary disruptive characteristics of electric vehicles, it’s a one-two punch that conventional energy companies will not be able to survive.

Please read the whole interview with PV Magazine Interview with Tony Seba Jan 2014.

Toyota vs. Tesla – Can Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Vehicles Compete with Electric Vehicles?

The world has been abuzz about the recent Toyota (NYSE: TM) announcement that the company opened up licensing of its 5,680 HFCV patents (although only until 2020.) By taking a page from the Tesla playbook, Toyota  is hoping to encourage an ecosystem of fuel cell suppliers and hydrogen fueling stations.

Tesla Factory - Freemont California

Is this the last hurrah of a dead-end technology? Or will it re-invigorate the HFCV market which has gone nowhere for decades? Does the Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Vehicle (HFCV) Matter anymore?

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) has called the HFCV ‘bullshit’. “Hydrogen is suitable for rockets but not for cars,” said Mr Musk. (Video, starting min 29:20.)

But Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America says that his company is betting big on hydrogen fuel cell cars. Does the Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Vehicle (HFCV) have a chance against the Electric Vehicle (EV)?

I don’t even mention Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles in my book “Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation”! There are multiple reasons for that. Let’s look at the facts, starting with the basics.

1) Hydrogen is not an energy source.

Many industry insiders talk about hydrogen as if it were an energy source. For instance, they might compare it with, say, petroleum products like gasoline and diesel, and say that H2 produces no emissions. Hydrogen is not an energy source. It’s an energy carrier. It’s a form of storage. You need primary energy sources like the sun, coal, natural gas, or uranium to generate the power needed to extract Hydrogen from a source material like natural gas or water.

2) Electric Vehicles are at least three times more energy efficient than Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Assuming that at some point fuel-cells will be cheap and Hydrogen production will reach critical mass, it will still be at least three times more expensive to power an HFCV car than an EV. This figure from fuel cell expert Ulf Bossel explains how wasteful an HFCV is compared to electric vehicles. (Source: http://phys.org/news85074285.html)

 

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle vs Electric Vehicle - Energy Efficiency

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle vs Electric Vehicle – Energy Efficiency

But not all hydrogen vehicles are made alike. You can use compressed or liquefied hydrogen. You can also use either internal combustion engine of fuel cells to power the car. The following chart shows that whatever choice of type of hydrogen and engine results in the electric vehicle going three to six times more miles for the same energy when compared to hydrogen-powered cars. (Source: BetterPlace)

Hydrogen Cars vs Electric Vehicles - Better Place

Hydrogen Cars vs Electric Vehicles – Better Place

 

3) You need to build a multi-trillion dollar hydrogen delivery infrastructure.

To build a so-called “Hydrogen Economy” you need to build a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure with large factories/refineries, pipelines, trucks, storage facilities, compressors, hydrogen gas stations, and so on. If you haven’t noticed, this mirrors the existing oil & gas infrastructure. (Source: http://energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-delivery)

Department of Energy - Hydrogen Delivery Infrastructure

Department of Energy – Hydrogen Delivery Infrastructure

Electric vehicles, on the other hand, have a ready infrastructure: the power grid. Everyone who lives and works in advanced economies has access to electricity. Yes, our grid is aging and we need to upgrade it, but it works today. Some readers may remember that the Internet started with the plain old telephone system. It wasn’t fast but it worked. Then we upgraded it to get the fast pipes that we have today. We also built a brand new wireless infrastructure that required no pipes at all.

Distributed Solar PV and EV Charging Station. Copyright @2014 by Tony Seba

Distributed Solar PV and EV Charging Station. Copyright @2014 by Tony Seba

The electric vehicle equivalent of the wireless power infrastructure is distributed solar.

The multi-trillion dollar hydrogen infrastructure would have to be built from scratch.

 

4) Hydrogen is Not Clean.

About 95% of hydrogen in the US is made from natural gas in large central plants, according to the Department of Energy. It’s a method called natural gas reforming.

Hydrogen Methane Steam Reforming Process - Source HYFleet:CUTE - Global-Hydrogen-Bus-Platform

Hydrogen Methane Steam Reforming Process – Source HYFleet:CUTE – Global-Hydrogen-Bus-Platform

 

As I wrote in Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation:
Methane (the main component of natural gas) is 72 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas (when measured over twenty years). Natural gas leaks throughout the supply chain. It leaks when it is lifted from the ground, when it is stored, and when it is transported in hundreds of thousands of miles of pipelines. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, three trillion cubic feet of methane leak annually. That figure represents about 3.2 percent of global production. This methane leakage is the global warming equivalent of half the coal plants in the United States.

Today, hydrogen is basically a repackaged fossil fuel – a fossil product line extension, if you will. If you like natural gas and fracking you should love hydrogen.

 

5) Hydrogen is not ‘Renewable’!

Hydrogen is classified as ‘renewable’ when it’s extracted from water by means of hydrolysis. This method involves applying high voltage electricity to split water into Oxygen and Hydrogen. When you apply conventional electricity to do the hydrolysis you still have to burn coal, natural gas, nuclear, petroleum, and so on, so you still have dirty hydrogen.

We need to pause to consider the water-energy-food nexus. Conventional energy is thirsty. In my books Clean Disruption and Solar Trillions I write at length about the obscene amounts of freshwater that coal, natural gas and biofuels consume. By adding Hydrogen to that list we would have yet another way for energy to dry up our planet.

A well-to-wheels analysis by University of Texas Professors Carey W. King and Michael E. Weber found that a HFCV would need to withdraw 13 gallons of water per mile driven. The same study concludes that a gasoline car would need withdrawals of needs 0.63 gal H2O/mile and a diesel car would need 0.46 gal H2O/mile. That is, gasoline petroleum-based transportation is 20 to 28 times more water efficient than hydrogen.

If we use solar or wind power as the source of the electricity for hydrolysis then you could have ‘clean’ and technically ‘renewable’ Hydrogen. I say ‘technically’ because the world is already pumping water at non-sustainable, non-renewable rates and the massive amounts of water you’d need for hydrogen would just contribute to the world’s water crisis. A 2015 World Economic Forum report ranks water crises as top global risk, up from number three the previous year.

Powering EVs using solar and wind would use no water, according to Prof King and Weber. Plus EVs are at least three times more energy efficient than Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles.

 

6) Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles can’t compete with Electric Vehicles.

It makes sense for the fossil fuel industry to lobby for the hydrogen car because hydrogen is essentially a product line extension for them. In other words, the “Hydrogen Economy” is the “Fossil Fuel Economy” with a green sheen.

The HFCV is a substitute technology. If successful, hydrogen would just substitute the fossil fuel infrastructure with a mirror hydrogen infrastructure.

Former DOE Secretary Steven Chu said: “We asked ourselves, ‘Is it likely in the next 10, 15, or 20 years that we will convert to a hydrogen car economy?’ The answer was no,”

It’s obvious why I don’t even mention HFCV in my book “Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation”! Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles are neither clean nor disruptive. At best, a hydrogen economy would still be a massively wasteful economy that would at best use three to six times more energy than an electric vehicle and solar/wind infrastructure and many times more water than even gasoline uses. There are many good reasons why hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles are stuck in reverse while electric vehicles are on hyper-drive.

By 2030, 100% of cars will be electric and they will be 100% powered by solar and wind. (Watch my AltCars keynote here)

 

It’s time to move on from hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Clean Disruption to be Published in Korea by Kyobo Book Centre

I’m happy to say that the Korean translation of my book “Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation” will be published by Kyobo Book Centre, Korea’s largest bookseller.

Seoul Korea Gwanghwamun

There has been incredible interest in the Clean Disruption in South Korea.

I’m looking forward to the publication of Clean Disruption in Korean!

 

Wellington, NZ, Parliament - Beehive

Anticipating and Leading Market Disruptions in New Zealand

After my trip to Korea, I came back to New Zealand to teach my 2-day “Anticipating and Leading Market Disruption” workshop, talk to policy-makers and attend a board meeting. Here’s a quick rundown:

1. Callaghan Innovation – “Anticipating and Leading Market Disruption” in Auckland

Back in September (2014) Callaghan Innovation brought me to New Zealand to teach a 1-day

Copyright Tony Seba 2014

Orams Marine Services Auckland

workshop titled Anticipating and Leading Market Disruption”. (Here’s the Sept seminar flyer.) The overwhelming feedback was: ‘we want more’. So this time I came back to Auckland to teach a full 2-day workshop. Here’s the flyer: Anticipating Leading Market Disruption Workshop Auckland 2-day Agenda Nov2014.

The difference between the 1-day workshop and the 2-day workshop is that the second day is mostly hands-on. In addition to the topics covered during the first day, I talk about the “Open Disruption” and participants get to build two separate businesses using the frameworks and tools that I tech in the workshop. The first business is based on ideas, technologies, or products that they were working on prior to coming to this course. Then they get to build a business from scratch using only open disruption tools and technologies.

This workshop is the 2-day version of the course by the same name I teach at Stanford University. This time we held the workshop Nov 25-26, 2014, at Oram’s Marina in Auckland.

2. Callaghan Innovation – “Anticipating and Leading Market Disruption” keynote and conversation in Wellington

I flew to Wellington, New Zealand, to talk about “Anticipating and Leading Market Disruption” to policy makers at the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment on Thursday, Nov 27.

My presentation was similar to this “Anticipating and Leading Market Disruption” keynote expanded to touch on technologies like Synthetic Biology and Bioprinting. The next 10-15 years will be the most disruptive time in history. Dairy and meat products are by far New Zealand’s main export industries and it was important for me to show how synthetic biology and bioprinting could disrupt a third of the country’s export in the foreseeable future.

3. CloudM – “Anticipating and Leading Market Disruption” keynote and conversation in Wellington

I went back to Auckland to spend quality time with CloudM.  We had a board meeting in addition to strategy sessions, year-end review, and planning for 2015.

4. RadioLive  Interview

Andrew Patterson interviewed me for a RadioLive piece on disruption and entrepreneurship in the New Zealand context. What does the ‘Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation’ mean for NZ? How might new technologies disrupt the milk industry? Is NZ prepared for the coming disruptions?  Here’s the RadioLive audio of the interview.

I’m looking forward to going back to New Zealand in 2015!

Tony Seba Speaking at the Global Leaders Forum, Seoul, Korea, Nov 19th, 2014

Speaking at the Global Leaders Forum 2014 in Seoul, Korea

I had the pleasure of participating in The Global Leaders Forum 2014 in Seoul, Korea as a speaker and moderator. The main keynote speaker on day 1 (Nov 19th) Technion Professor Dan Schechtman who won the Nobel Prize in 2011 for his discovery of ‘quasicrystals’.

Technology: Creative Thinking” with four world-class thinkers and entrepreneurs:

  • William Hallal, Founder of TechCast Global and Professor at George Washington University,
  • Patri Friedman, Founder and Chair of the Seasteading Institute,
  • Daryl Oster, CEO of ET3 (Evacuated Tube Transport Technologies) and
  • Alex Min, Cofounder of Terafugia.

All their talks were fascinating and I recommend you visit these websites.

I was then interviewed by Chosun Biz, which published a story here.

 

J.P.Morgan TMT Conference in Asia

Keynote at J.P. Morgan Technology Conference Hong Kong

For the second time this fall I was invited by J.P.Morgan to give a keynote about the Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation.  This time,  I spoke at J.P.Morgan’s 2nd Annual “Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in Asia” which took place Nov 17-18, 2014 in Hong Kong.

A noteworthy point to make is that this was a technology conference. Other speakers included:

Electric Vehicles (and Self-Driving Cars) are essentially computer tablets on wheels.

J.P.Morgan TMT Conference in Asia

Hong Kong, J.P.Morgan TMT Conference in Asia

Once you start thinking about the disruption of transportation as a technology disruption then it makes sense that technology investors, tech companies, and entrepreneurs would be interested in learning about the Clean Disruption.

Petroleum will be made obsolete by information and communication technologies just as film was made obsolete by ICT. Would a 30% or 40% cut in the price of film have prevented the disruption of the film camera industry? Not at all.

Investors are catching on to the Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation.

 

Interviewed on National Public Radio – the future of Solar

This week I was interviewed by Warren Olney on his National Public Radio (NPR) show “To The Point” about the future of solar.

The other guests on the show were:

  • Ethan Zindler, Head of Americas and Head of Policy, Bloomberg New Energy Finance
  • Eric Wessof, Senior Analyst, Greentech Media
  • Severin Borenstein, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, UC Berkeley

Solar is becoming a mainstream source of energy and the conversation revolved mainly around when and how (not if) solar will reach its potential.

The radio episode is online here: http://bit.ly/1wOnb2B

Enjoy!

NPR - To The Point KCRW interview on the future of solar (copyright KRCW)

NPR – To The Point with Warren Olney KCRW interview on the future of solar (copyright KRCW)