We spend most of our time on this show talking about what's happening in climate tech. What technologies, business models, and markets are being developed? By whom? And how much impact will they ultimately have on decarbonization?

But there's an equally interesting topic. What isn't happening? In other words, where is the white space? What areas, technologies, or markets need more attention? 

The mandate of a new non-profit called Actuate is to identify and fill gaps across multiple areas, including climate. They focus on R&D, using a model similar to the US federal government’s DARPA or ARPA-e programs. 

Today, Shayle talks to Actuate’s Director of Climate Lara Pierpoint. Prior to actuate she led the Technology Strategy team at Exelon. She's also worked at the US Department of Energy and has a PhD from MIT in engineering systems.

Shayle and Lara talk about:

  • Demand response, an example of one type of gap where we have the technology but don’t know how to use it yet.
  • Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs), a type of nuclear technology used to power spacecraft -- that could also be used planetside as low-density, always on-batteries.
  • The exorbitant costs of laying of wires, a potential cost saver for nuclear plants and other power projects.
  • High-temperature superconductors (HTS) that could act like high-capacity transmission built at distribution scale. For example: VEIR.
  • Sensors and the surprisingly high error bars of many country-level emissions measurements
  • Storage and competing against transmission, demand response and overbuilding renewables to solve renewable intermittency 
  • Oh, and cows. They talk about burp-catching masks and improving the profitability of forests.

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