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Energy transition

New innovations within energy transition: an inspirational tour in California

Our Energy Transition Advisory went to California in late April to scope new trends in the U.S. sector. A week filled with innovations that showcase the broad spectrum of solutions currently being developed in the energy transition industry.

California is known for the technological innovations that keep evolving our everyday way of life. From sharing houses to sharing rides, and how to figure out the route to get there in the first place. Innovations to make our energy solutions more sustainable are also currently being developed in California, which is arguably the most progressive state when it comes to renewables and decarbonization. Our Energy Transition Advisory set out to learn about these innovations in the last week of April.

Hydrogen, energy storage, direct air capture, micro grids, hydrogen airplanes and AI software for renewables were all presented in meetings with more than a dozen interesting companies. From start-ups to major enterprises and an energy technology specialist, they shared their current projects within energy transition. This provided The Trade Council in North America with key learnings about the latest developments in the industry.

Different solutions needed to transition the energy system

Energy transition, as the name suggests, concerns transitioning the entire energy system from being responsible for the majority of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions today, to becoming net zero. To achieve this goal, a plethora of pathways will have to be explored and utilized. Including renewable power, electrification, energy efficiency, hydrogen and carbon removals. 

The presentations in California showed how actors across the energy value chains are working hard at inventing, developing, optimizing, commercializing and scaling solutions in each of these areas.Specifically, the following areas were explored: 

  • Clean hydrogen production and consumption in mobility 
  • Long-duration energy storage and grid balancing 
  • Impact of raw material extraction, supply and pricing
  • Carbon removal and historical mitigation 
  • Micro grids and distributed assets for supply demand alignment 

The topics may seem diverse and only slightly interlinked, but many different approaches and technologies are exactly what we need to have any hopes of reaching net zero by 2050.

quote ikon
"The exciting thing right now, is that the spotlight is on renewables to provide low-cost and CO2 neutral power to replace fossil fuels or power e-fuel production, carbon capture and the like. It was clear that scholars, start-ups, investors and big corporates across the U.S. are keeping their eyes fixed on that ball."
Manja Meister Head of Energy Transition and Senior Commercial Adviser in The Trade Council North America
By visiting various players active in the Californian energy transition space, the team not only got a good understanding of the solutions and technologies, but also how they are being brought to commercialization. Challenges of supply chain integration was a topic that were discussed, as companies of varying sizing are grabbling with business models that are future ready.

Main focus areas in energy transition right now

Energy Storage

Until recently, wind and solar were often labeled as alternative energy, but now they are the most installed technologies around the world. While this helps reduce the carbon intensity of our electricity grids, it creates challenges related to intermittency.

Grid operators need assets that can be turned on and off and is guaranteed to produce when needed. For instance, when they need to be dispatchable. At some point soon, renewables will have to be able to function as so-called baseload or firm power, instead of coal or natural gas plants used today.


Long-duration storage is a key ingredient in making this happen. Rather than being able to shift power for a few hours, we are soon talking weeks, months and seasons.  In the words of Prakesh Patel, Chief Strategy officer at Stem: “The rules of what a battery is supposed to be and do is constantly being rewritten.” Which means that new technologies, configurations and business models will be needed in the years to come.

Green hydrogen

Often called the ‘key to unlock the energy transition’, green hydrogen has the ability to indirectly electrify several hard to abate sectors, including heavy industry, power and mobility. When we talk mobility such as aerospace, road transport and marine the value chain often becomes very complex as the consuming assets are often smaller and more distributed than a large industrial plant.


Thus, start-ups and corporations need to come up with solutions that solve the question of what comes first; demand or supply. A great example is aerospace where the off taker might be airlines, but the necessary infrastructure is the responsibility of the airports. You can read more about the virtual delegation tour on hydrogen here

Carbon removal

A focus area that is sometimes overlooked is that of carbon removal or carbon capture and storage (CCS). Short term, some proponents have heralded it for its ability to capture carbon at plants where net zero alternatives do not exist, which has received some backlash. However, what is worth remembering is that carbon removal is the only way to mitigate historical emissions. This is key to avoid the further warming of the globe.


Carbon removal can happen at the source of emission, or it can happen anywhere and remove CO2 from the atmosphere – also known as direct air capture (DAC). In any instance, carbon capture is in itself an energy intensive process. Which is why access to renewable power is important to avoid taking to step forward and one step back in the process towards net zero.


The Trade Council is your regional knowledge hub/facilitator

The trip was organized by The Trade Council’s Energy Transition Advisory in North America. If you want to know more about energy transition in the U.S., feel free to contact Senior Commercial Advisor Christian Eghe Aiwerioghene.