Scaling the Impact of Green Energy Carriers

XPRIZE works to help competitors scale their technologies to the point where they have real-world impact beyond the competition. For this prize in particular, scaling is a daunting challenge. We are looking to provide alternatives for well-established, global supply chains with uncountable stakeholders, from the largest oil & gas companies to remote communities in the developing world.

Our impact goals are as follows:

  1. Enable the transition to electrification of the economy by diversifying the methods for using renewable energy.
  2. Provide renewable energy in the form of green energy carriers to the “hard-to-abate” sectors to accelerate decarbonization.
  3. Provide clean alternative fuels to remote and economically vulnerable communities.
  4. Enabling the energy transition to electrification.

On what pathways to achieve these goals might our competitors encounter the least resistance? Who should XPRIZE partner with to help our competitors scale? What barriers might they encounter, and how can they overcome them?

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Hi @akb, @carlbozzuto, @rayw, @b0bbybaldi, @agval, @Magneto, @gyyang, @clabeaux, @SPSBadwal, @skunsman, @marcelschreier, @bernardsaw, @Paul, @KeithDPatch, @Jesse_Nyokabi - Given the above mentioned impact goals, what are your thoughts on the barriers the team would encounter? also which of the four goals listed would encounter least resistance?

Also if you know of any Impact partner, who could help the competitors scale, please share it with us. Thanks.

@Shashi I would shoot for the following goal

Enabling the energy transition to electrification.

This should be the current end goal of the industry to seek modernisation and fight climate change while improving operations.

This is also the broadest goal which would enable teams to individually seek niches where they might have competitive advantages to get the initial needed traction to speed up innovation. Although because of such intrinsic nature it might also result in vague orientation for the prize design, for which the responsibility of choosing winners and organisations to support would be then increased for judges.

Energy is a tough industry and in all aspects, startups will face resistance, at least with this, we give the prize enough room for more organisations to pitch in and hopefully some would have the right connections to get a pilot tested and going.

1. Provide renewable energy in the form of green energy carriers to the “hard-to-abate” sectors to accelerate decarbonization.

Whatever the solution proposal and its application, it must comply with operational and design factors that are in common with each other and in conjunction with other associated or dependent technologies, these elements are:

  1. Modularity
  2. Scalability
  3. High capacity
  4. Low maintenance
  5. IOT capacity

"Find the hidden added value of your proposal and project your solution beyond its primary utility"

For example:

Systems for Power Generation by Magnetic Transduction, are scalable and have a high production capacity in reduced spaces, offer significant technical and operational advantages, compared to conventional solutions such as solar or wind systems. These systems are adaptable to any climatic environment, productive activity or human development.

This decentralized and autonomous solution generates energy directly at the point of consumption for 100% electricity supply activities in 2 square meters, but at the same time this same module can be transported, configured and associated with other technologies to:

• Generate fuels on demand (green hydrogen)
• Gasify municipal solid waste on site with plasma arc
• Generate ambient water
• Capture and Transform CO2 into Graphene
• Charge electric batteries
• Supply energy to a population
• Etc.

That institution or individual that understands (under certain rules) that “without a planet there is no business” and that any venture capital investment in technologies with high environmental and social impact under the current global climatic circumstances is a guarantee of a Return on Investment extremely profitable , especially if we talk about mass solutions. An example of such institutions would be IDB Lab or IDB Invest.

One of the main barriers for new technologies and their creators is the justification of the gross numbers before investors of purely financial capital, the solution must be technically reliable not only on paper but also demonstrable in the field at a cost that is not necessarily economic, but if with an extremely attractive return on investment and with a brutal social and development impact.

Getting to that point and justifying it is extremely complex but not impossible, the business plan must contain all the associated costs down to the last detail. Linking, showing yourself, and making enough noise in front of the right people and forums can shorten this path.

Another barrier is the political management part, especially if you plan to apply massive projects, this can be solved through international organizations who are the ones who present and apply the projects, adhering to the international regional commitments and regulatory frameworks that are required to meet all countries.


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  1. Provide renewable energy in the form of green energy carriers to the “hard-to-abate” sectors to accelerate decarbonization.
    Some of the “hard-to-abate” sector is the manufacturing industries such cement industries. Iron-industries are also example. Green Hydrogen has opportunity to decarbonize the industries especially through replacement of carbon reduction process with hydrogen. this will be one of the major contribution of renewable energy. The transport of hydrogen to this industries should be consideration that need a sober discussion.
  1. Provide clean alternative fuels to remote and economically vulnerable communities.

To achieve universal electrification, access to clean energy for remote and economically vulnerable communities will be key consideration. Most of them use firewood and charcoal. Clean energy is needed especially for cooking in such areas.

Thanks @b0bbybaldi, @Magneto, @Jesse_Nyokabi - for sharing your thoughts. Great insights.

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Hi @cananacar. @Ali, @Access600, @anis, @Febbie, @Shepard, @grhoffman7, @adventureashr, @mikelandmeier, @erinnvw, @SonyaD, @lauramatrax - Curious to know if you have any inputs to share on this important discussion on scaling the Impact of renewable energy carriers.

Hi @AAM_AAU, @tedsargent, @ikuzle, @paolo_mattavelli, @paulaf, @zita, @Ruslana, @MarianoMM, @PhilDeLuna, @sanjeevi_12, @echomann, @wkenworthy, @jrugare - Given the above mentioned impact goals, what are your thoughts on the barriers the team would encounter? also which of the four goals listed would encounter least resistance?

Also if you know of any Impact partner, who could help the competitors scale, please share it with us. Thanks.

  1. Enabling the energy transition to electrification.

To reap the full benefits of electrification, it is crucial to accelerate the transition from fossil fuel to emission-free generation. Unlike fossil-fuel electricity generation, renewables-based electricity is totally shielded from the volatility of commodity prices and is produced at a zero variable cost. This means zero-emitting renewables can displace high-emitting thermal generation because of its lower cost and lower price variability. A decarbonized electricity – more affordable, sustainable and efficient – is thus the best candidate energy carrier to forge the path towards our shared long-term goals on decarbonization.

Three main encouraging signs: the ever-decreasing cost of renewable technologies; the increasing role of electricity as an energy carrier for end uses; and the growing appetite of the energy (and non-energy) industry for electrification.

“Hard to abate sectors” means forget electrification, or electricity would be used to abate those sectors.

I see the main choices as green methanol, green ammonia, or green hydrogen.

  • Methanol & ammonia are both poisonous
  • Methanol & ammonia require multiple conversion steps to create from renewable electricity, and multiple steps to convert back into electricity for end use. Each conversion step adds complexity, cost, and conversion losses.
  • Methanol & ammonia conversion back into electricity will result in exhaust emissions which will require remediation

I see green hydrogen as the preferred (and only) suitable energy carrier, as it avoids all the above problems


@KeithDPatch, I agree with you. Green Hydrogen is the most promise to “Hard-to-abate” sector.

Thanks @KeithDPatch for sharing these insights. We want to further understand from you if you foresee any barriers that teams may encounter in their process if they decide to produce and use green hydrogen to accelerate decarbonization in hard-to-abate sectors? if yes; how can they overcome them?

Hi @AnthonyMburu, @RegenTower, @CO2Cap_SysEng, @Simon, @nyirendalevy, @Cemalbasaran - Out of the four goal listed above, which one do you feel will have least resistance? What barriers the teams would encounter?

The primary barrier at this time involves the current delivered costs of green hydrogen after it is turned into the final mode of energy. This involves both CAPEX & OPEX of green hydrogen production and green hydrogen utilization.

For example, current water electrolyzers are at approx. 1MWe in size. At that size it will be hard to meet various national energy needs. For example, in 2018 the total average US electricity consumption rate was 4.8e5MWe. This would obviously require a large increase in electrolyzer power requirements (assuming 100% electrolyzer use for grid power, which I know is a bad assumption).

The same goes for fuel cells. Soon Hyzon is coming out with a 370kW PEM hydrogen fuel cell stack. You will need a lot of these to meet the +50MW power requirements of ocean-going tankers and freighters, or trans-ocean aircraft.

The good news is that electrolytic green hydrogen is now predicted by multiple analysts as well as multiple manufacturers to be available by 2025 at a price that matches or beats diesel fuel. XPRIZE should help reach that price point by assisting in both scaling up (increase in unit size) and scaling out (increase in cumulative MW production, AKA the learning curve).

But for this XPRIZE contest, a smallish, pilot plant demo might suffice, to enable green methanol, green ammonia, etc. to compete with green hydrogen.

Thanks @KeithDPatch for sharing these insights.

Thank you @KeithDPatch, for this insightful and helpful comment.
It would be great to get your thoughts about some of our cost criteria:
Cost: we will be seeking to reach such the estimates you’ve mentioned; starting with a minimum benchmark of $0.374/kWh (fully considered cost of the oil-diesel-carbon cycle), through a milestone target of $0.059/kWh (‘tipping point cost’) and towards $0.034/kWh (green hydrogen at scale cost).
LCOE: We are still evaluating what to require in the LCOE analysis. Should it include any special categories, for example, to inform a better understanding of electrolyzers and production plant end-of-life decommissioning/continuity?

You’re welcome, @Eti.

Cost of $0.34/kWh is the price of the sourced electricity available to convert to green hydrogen?
Or is your Cost of $/kWh for delivered energy from the H2? If so, what is the source cost?
Cost of $/kWh is the wrong unit when firing a residential boiler or industrial furnace with H2.
Cost must also allow for alternative green hydrogen sources, such as gasifying biomass to syngas, then separating H2 from the gas product.

LCOE is a perfectly fine metric.
Perhaps you include a hybrid metric like LCOE * LCA CO2g/MJ, . This would give you the cost of H2 weighted by the g of LCA GHG.
You could also use similar metrics using LCA numbers for other benchmarks, like LCA g/MJ of non-circular solid waste dispoal, LCA g/MJ of fresh water utilization, etc.

As was already mentioned, I support efforts that move towards commercialization. Further, since time is of the essence, efforts should be focused on the most promising energy carriers such as hydrogen and those solely for for clean and inexpensive means to produce hydrogen.

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Thanks @grhoffman7 for sharing your thoughts.

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