top of page

Michael Terrell

Senior Director for Energy and Climate


April 30, 2024
  • iTunes
  • Spotify
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
Ep 110: Michael Terrell - Senior Director for Energy and Climate, Google
00:00 / 01:04

Michael Crabb [00:00:57] Welcome to another episode of the Energy Impact Podcast. Our guest today is Michael Terrell, the Senior Director for Energy and Climate at Google. Michael, great to have you on.

Michael Terrell [00:01:08] Thanks for having me.

Michael Crabb [00:01:09] Well, excited to learn about all you're doing and maybe some recent announcements that we can talk about. But before we get there, tell us about yourself. Where are you from?

Michael Terrell [00:01:20] I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. And I now live in the Bay Area in California and work out of Google's headquarters in Mountain View.

Michael Crabb [00:01:31] And I assume you didn't just sort of wake up one day and drive to Mountain View and get a job at Google. What was the path for you?

Michael Terrell [00:01:40] Ironically, given the work that I'm in, I first got interested in environment and natural resources because my family, my grandfather, my father, and my uncle ran a coal mining business in Alabama. As a kid, I used to to spend a lot of time... These were strip mines, and I would spend a lot of time at the mines hunting for fossils and playing with rocks. And so, that led to me eventually studying geology and forestry, and then you can sort of trace the path to where I am now. But it is a bit of a nontraditional start, I guess you could say.

Michael Crabb [00:02:21] Amazing. Well, yeah, we love to actually dig into those details because I think every one of our conversations with guests is nontraditional. This is such an evolving and budding industry that I'm not sure there is a "traditional." Okay, so you're playing with rocks, playing with fossils. You went into geology and forestry. Was there a lens? Was there an end goal at the time? You wanted to be a park ranger? You wanted to do consulting? What was the first step?

Michael Terrell [00:02:54] No, I didn't have a grand plan when I went off to school. I thought I would study economics or political science or something like that, but I couldn't shake my love of the outdoors. Once I took my first geology class, it was all over after that. I majored in forestry and geology. My area of focus was actually something called karst hydrology, which is the way that water runs through caves and runs through the underground.

Michael Terrell [00:03:22] And from there, I would spend my summers working for the US Park Service and the US Forest Service out in Oregon and Washington. And I was fascinated at the time with the intersection of natural resource management and public policy. This was all during the spotted owl controversy, where the Endangered Species Act was really coming to a head in terms of how they managed the wildlife and the natural resources in the Northwest. And so, that led me to want to go to Washington, DC and get involved in these issues from the policy perspective. That's how my career really got started; I went from being a forest ranger to working in DC in my first, what I'd call, full-time real job out of college.

Michael Crabb [00:04:17] Well, that's cool. Were you just sort of bringing coffee and pushing paper, or did you get like getting in a rhythym, like, "Hey, you have new ideas. Write this out for us." Where on that spectrum did you fall?

Michael Terrell [00:04:31] The great thing about DC for people who know DC is the whole town is run by people under the age of 30.

Michael Crabb [00:04:40] The whole county... The whole country, right? Yeah.

Michael Terrell [00:04:40] It's true. I got a job... I was working as a White House intern in what was a very small environmental office at the time, and then I was able to get a full-time job. It was great because we were very understaffed as a lot of government offices are. And so, I was able to do a lot of interesting things early on in my career, and it was great. I was there when we negotiated the Kyoto Protocol, which was really the first sort of binding global climate change agreement. That experience is really what turned me on to trying to solve for climate change and really dedicating a large portion of my career to that.

Michael Crabb [00:05:28] Yeah, really cool. I mean, you say nontraditional, but that's a pretty traditional "you've been around since day one" sort of thing. What an experience.

Michael Terrell [00:05:36] Yeah. The way I got into it was... Al Gore was vice president at the time when I was in the White House. And everybody has seen Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth presentation. Well, that used to be a set of cards and slides and posters. And as a young White House staffer, I used to help him give that presentation in terms of just doing sort of the grunt work and holding up the posters and the signs and the graphs. And it completely sold me on the science behind climate change. And as someone who was interested in and had sort of a background in natural resources, I was fascinated by all that. And so, that's what really got me interested in climate and having a career in the space, no doubt.

Michael Crabb [00:06:23] Amazing. Okay, so you had this hands on policy experience right after a hands on dirt experience. What was the next thing?

Michael Terrell [00:06:37] I went off to grad school. You know, when we negotiated that global climate agreement in Kyoto, there was this whole new concept around trading of emissions and carbon offsets. And I was really interested in that and interested in the possibilities there, and also just very interested in the way that the private sector could play a role in helping to solve this big global problem.

Michael Terrell [00:07:05] And so, I went off to graduate school and got a master's. I studied emissions trading in school. I went and got a law degree because I noticed how so much of this stuff was grounded in law and public policy and that you really needed to understand those things to be able to build businesses off of them. I really came out of grad school with the goal of building a career around emissions trading and carbon offsets. But along the way, I also got interested in clean energy and energy and the technology around carbon-free energy sources. And so, that also sort of influenced me directionally in terms of how I wanted to grow my career.

Michael Crabb [00:07:49] Amazing. Yeah, definitely a formative time as we think about pricing that externality, right? I come at it from an economics perspective, and it's just a negative externality that needs to be priced, right? It sounds easy, and then it has all of these different layers to it as I'm sure you've experienced. Okay, so you went to grad school. You're now armed with the practical experience and the education. Where's next? What's the next step?

Michael Terrell [00:08:21] I was working at a firm that was doing this work around emissions trading and carbon and clean energy. And I just continued to be...

Michael Crabb [00:08:29] And this work being setting the policy? You were creating the frameworks at this time, right? Not actually trading or not creating the market for it.

Michael Terrell [00:08:35] Actually, both.

Michael Crabb [00:08:36] Oh, cool.

Michael Terrell [00:08:36] We were very involved in the policy side. This was in Washington, DC. We were helping to advise on new environmental and energy laws. But we also had clients that were very actively involved in the emissions trading space and in the early development of what was called the Clean Development Mechanism, which was this trading mechanism that was envisioned under the Kyoto Protocol. So, I was doing both. I was representing clients who were in the market trading and also helping to develop new laws and policies, and getting more exposure to the energy side of things, whether it was the policies that could advance energy efficiency or renewable energy. I was just really fascinated with the role of technology in helping to address climate change.

Michael Terrell [00:09:25] And so, I had an opportunity to talk with Google. Around the time, Google was starting to put together their philanthropy, which is called And they really wanted to focus on climate and energy. And they were looking for people who had an experience in the space both from the policy side and then also from the market side. And so, that's ultimately how I ended up at Google. I had this weird set of skills, and there weren't a lot of people with that sort of blend of skills back then and they were really looking for help. I was really, like I said, and continue to be fascinated by this role of technology, the role of the private sector, and how all those things intersect. So, when I had an opportunity to come out here, I jumped on it.

Michael Crabb [00:10:22] Yeah. And what was the thing that really hooked you about the opportunity at Google? Because this was at a time where what you're doing wasn't sexy. People were figuring out what to do, right? What did they say or what did you see at Google even at that time that was like, "Hey, this is a real chance to take that particular set of skills and really solve problems?"

Michael Terrell [00:10:49] It was very clear to me then that the future that we needed to solve for climate change had yet to be invented. If you looked at the world back then... This is 15 years ago. We didn't have the things that we needed to solve for climate. You saw early iterations of those things, whether it was solar panels or things like that. But none of that stuff was at scale.

Michael Terrell [00:11:12] And I looked out at Silicon Valley and I was fascinated with Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is all about invention and all about creating a world that doesn't exist. And having sort of come of age in the '90s, I saw what the internet did and how the internet changed the world and how Silicon Valley had such a huge role in that. I was like, "Those are the ingredients that we're going to need to build this clean future, so I'm going to go there. I'm going to go to a place that invents new things. You know we're going to need these new technologies. I'm going to go to a place that's on the cutting edge of technology, and I'm going to go to a place that builds these things in a way that they can be scaled around the world."

Michael Terrell [00:11:55] And so, that's really what drew me to Google. To me, to come to a place like this where they were starting to focus their attention and experiment and look for ways in which Google could help solve these problems was incredibly exciting.

Michael Crabb [00:12:11] Yeah. What were some of those ways? Tell us more.

Michael Terrell [00:12:16] I joke with people that we were ahead of our time in a lot of ways in the early days of in that our very first projects... I'm just going to name three projects. The first one was about trying to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles. And at the time, there were actually no EVs on the road. We were taking Toyota Priuses and basically wiring them up ourselves to make them into plug-in hybrids so we could measure the performance of them.

Michael Terrell [00:12:46] The second thing we were doing was we developed a real-time energy monitor for your home so you could see how your house or your apartment used energy in real time. And then, the third thing we were doing was an initiative called Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal. And so, the amazing thing to me is that all of those things that we were experimenting with early on have really come to be true or are on their way to coming to be true. I think we were on to something back then. We were maybe a little ahead of our time; those things didn't quite scale at Google. But I think we played a role in helping to get them to scale in the market.

Michael Crabb [00:13:22] Yeah. Maybe pick one of those and let's peel back... I hate the "peel back the onion analogy," but I got myself stuck in it. Let's dig into one of those. Which was your favorite?

Michael Terrell [00:13:37] I'll dig into the one about renewable energy. I mean, what was really interesting about Google at the time was we were in this philanthropic part of the company that was just experimenting and running pilots and things like that. Well, I started to have the quote unquote "business part" of Google, the data center side or the operations part of the business. They were like, "Hey, look. We're starting to build and operate data centers, and we want these things to be clean. And you seem to know a lot about renewable energy and you guys are doing a lot of work on that. Can you all come and help us?"

Michael Terrell [00:14:06] I started spending more and more of my time with the data center team, helping them think through some of the challenges they were facing in trying to come up with a renewable energy supply for our data centers. And I also saw the growth curve. I'm like, "Oh, wow. That business is really going to grow." I mean, the internet was still in its infancy. Even though it had been around for quite a while, you knew there was going to be so much growth. And I'm like, "That's a really interesting place to be, where the goal of solving for climate change and the goal of the core part of this business and building this business and this company are really coming together and merging."

Michael Terrell [00:14:44] And so, I went from over to the data center side and was, I think, the second or third full-time employee focused on energy over on that side of the business. And that's where I spent a lot of my formative years at Google, really helping to grow and build our data center energy team and drive a lot of the work there.

Michael Crabb [00:15:04] Man, yeah. Man, what haven't you done? Okay, so tell us about building that team. There's always been sort of private offtake, right? But Google and a handful of others really drove this whole idea of energy procurement, right?

Michael Terrell [00:15:21] I think I would say, "But there hasn't always been..."

Michael Crabb [00:15:25] Well, there's been trading as a commodity, right? The gas tolling agreements have been around for a decade. But not the PPA in the way that you sort of adopted the framework, right?

Michael Terrell [00:15:35] Yeah, exactly. We had a 1.6 megawatt solar installation on our headquarters building that's just a couple of buildings away from here in Mountain View. And at the time, it was the largest corporate solar installation in the world. Now we've done a hundred times that, a thousand times that. We realized that you can't put solar panels on the roof of a data center; they use too much electricity. We have to actually go straight to these wind developers and these solar developers and sign these agreements.

Michael Terrell [00:16:07] And so, that's what we did. We had to go get the regulations changed. We had to go get authority to buy and sell power on the wholesale markets from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and we started signing these deals directly with wind developers. Google's the first or the second company to start doing this. And that's really what helped to lead to the whole corporate PPA market. We started to do this. We published papers that really showed... We're very transparent about how we were doing this and how we were signing these deals and how we structured them so that other companies could follow. And yeah, that really led to the whole corporate PPA market that we've seen.

Michael Terrell [00:16:49] Google... We've ended up signing over 80 agreements now. We were the first major company to match 100% of our annual electricity consumption with renewable energy purchases. And the entire corporate PPA market is 150 gigawatts, which is just a staggering number when you think about it. And that's all happened in the span of about 10 to 13 years. So, to really sort of be on the front end of that at Google, helping to lead the way, was incredibly exciting.

Michael Crabb [00:17:22] Yeah, what an experience. Reflecting on that journey... I mean, talk about sprinting a marathon, right? Is there a nugget of wisdom or a lesson learned about innovation, about solving problems? What is the thing looking back where you're like, "Holy shit, we did that. This is what I..." I know there's not an answer. I want there to be an answer.

Michael Terrell [00:17:53] Well, I think the thing that's most interesting about that is... I remember we were sitting in a room making this decision to make this 100% renewable energy goal in 2012. And at the time, we had no idea how we were going to do it. We had this PPA model; we were starting to sign deals. But we knew that our electricity load was pretty large and it was going to be growing. We had a lot of places around the world where we didn't know how to do this. And we had a really inspirational leader who was like, "Let's do it. We're going to put a stake in the ground; we'll figure it out." And so, we set the goal without having any idea how we'd do it.

Michael Terrell [00:18:35] And I remember at the time thinking, "Oh, it's going to take us at least 20 years. 15 to 20 years to do this if we're lucky." We ended up meeting that goal in 5 years. We really revolutionized the way we signed PPAs. We saw these historic cost declines in wind and solar, driven in part by this corporate demand. We went out and changed laws to allow companies to buy power directly. We cut deals with utilities to create new green power purchase programs. And we scoured the globe for wind and solar projects, and we made it happen.

Michael Terrell [00:19:12] It took a little bit of a leap of faith, and sometimes you don't always know what the path is from Point A to Point B, but the point is to set ambitious goals and then work to achieve them. I think that's the biggest thing from that period, just that we had no idea how we were going to do it, but we got there and we got there many, many years sooner than we thought we would.

Michael Crabb [00:19:38] Yeah, totally awesome. It's like a uniquely American, and then uniquely San Francisco sort of mantra to put that stake in the ground and then just sprint really hard to make it happen. And these sorts of things are why you do it, right? Like, what a cool thing.

Michael Crabb [00:19:54] Okay, well, that brings us to today then. What's next? You've built this huge pipeline of projects, but there's more ahead, right? So, tell us about that and some of the recent news.

Michael Terrell [00:20:06] I mean, a couple of things. One is... When we achieved this 100% goal, all the electricity we use over the course of a year, we match it with renewable energy purchases. But it's done on an annual basis, so it doesn't mean that every hour, every day, at every location we're running on clean energy. That's a much harder problem to solve. I mean, the wind doesn't blow all the time and the sun doesn't shine all the time. And so, when it looked like we were going to be hitting that goal in 2017, that 100% annual match, we were really adamant that, "Hey, look. We need to make sure that people realize that we're not done. That there's still longer to go to solve the problem, and it gets harder as we go."

Michael Terrell [00:20:52] And so, we were very vocal that, "Look, our goal is not this 100% annual match. Our goal is to be clean energy around the clock." And we actually set a deadline for ourselves of 2030 to run on carbon-free energy 24/7. We call this our 24/7 Carbon-free Energy Goal. And that's been a much more difficult challenge for us, but I love it because it's just made us think about how to solve this problem in an entirely different way.

Michael Terrell [00:21:21] And not only solve it for Google, but at the end of the day, you want the electricity grids to be 24/7. I mean, if you want companies to run on clean energy, you can't have every single company in the world going in signing their own PPA. You've got to have the grids getting to carbon free all the time; you want it for everybody.

Michael Terrell [00:21:36] And we really recognize that we have this unique role to play at Google. I mean, we are one of the largest power consumers in a lot of the places where we operate. We're growing and bringing economic development in the regions where we are. There's an opportunity for us to really shape the direction of how the energy system is going to evolve. And so, we set this 24/7 goal. It's about Google, but it's also about power grids. And it's led to some really incredible things and really helped us rethink how we think about clean energy from end to end.

Michael Terrell [00:22:14] I'll just give you three examples. The first is, we completely rethought how we manage our electricity consumption. And we're doing a couple of things there. We're actually shifting our compute around at our data centers, both in space... So, different by location, or in time to align with the times of the day when the power grids are the cleanest. We developed the capability to do that. Sometimes we'll actually stop running certain things to help the power grids manage themselves and balance themselves more easily. But just getting much more responsive demand, much more dynamic on on our demand is something that we wouldn't have done if we weren't thinking about this problem from a 24/7 perspective.

Michael Crabb [00:23:02] Interesting. Can we pause on that a second? I feel like that's been something that the digital infrastructure space has been talking about, but I haven't actually heard people doing it. So, that's fascinating. What's the fluctuation on a percent basis? Can you share that? Is it like 2% or it's like 20%, or?

Michael Terrell [00:23:21] It depends, but you'd be surprised. We're able to do this without affecting our services that we're offering our customers. Because there are certain jobs of the day, whether it's backing up photos or doing photo processing or things like that that are not latency sensitive and that can be pushed off in time or in space. And so, it's been very useful. It's helped us to be much more efficient in how we manage our compute. But also, it's helped the grid operators where we operate if we're able to flex our loads up and down. And so, I think it's something that we really all should be focusing on. The system should be much more dynamic.

Michael Terrell [00:24:02] We talk about demand following generation, but that's really what needs to happen. We need to have power demand be much more flexible and much more responsive to the power generation that's being put on a grid at any given time. We're still early stages of that, but I think it's something that can be scaled not only at Google, but beyond.

Michael Terrell [00:24:25] And then, I think another thing we're doing that's interesting on that is using machine learning to optimize all of our wind farms in the Midwest. We have a lot of wind assets from all these PPAs that we've signed. It turns out that it's hard to predict when the wind's going to blow. These projects just sell into the market in real time. But if you're actually able to predict what it might do a day ahead of time and sell into the day ahead of markets, you can get more revenue from the projects. It helps the grid operators plan the day.

Michael Terrell [00:25:04] And so, we are now doing that with over two gigawatts of our wind assets and helping to optimize them. We're basically getting a 36-hour forecast and predicting what the wind production will be, predicting what the wind production of these wind farms will be, and then optimizing how we're selling them into the market. So, it's just another way that using data and technology and ML and these kinds of capabilities and getting more responsive and dynamic in how you're managing your assets is very beneficial. And it's both, in this case, again, been beneficial for us and also for the grid operators.

Michael Crabb [00:25:43] Yeah, that's fascinating. The risk manager in me is thinking like, "Oh God, you never want to be short if you're price coincident around wind." But you feel like the accuracy is good enough and you obviously have credit enough, I guess, to manage that, that you're willing to bid day ahead for those assets. You bid day ahead, you get picked up, and then if the wind doesn't show up you've got to make the operator whole, right?

Michael Terrell [00:26:09] Yeah. And you're not batting a thousand every time. But do you have a high enough batting average where it's actually adding value and it's better than if you were doing this manually? That's sort of what we're going after there, is to optimize it in a way that the machines can do it effectively and more efficiently and better. And it's certainly been beneficial to us. It's actually something that our cloud team has started to offer as something that cloud customers can take advantage of too.

Michael Crabb [00:26:40] Yeah, I would think every system operator, or at least everyone in the Midwest, in your home state and in Texas and whatnot will want their hands on for sure. Cool.

Michael Terrell [00:26:50] Yeah. Another thing, too, worth mentioning that's related to 24/7 carbon-free energy is it's also made us think beyond wind and solar. Like I said, the wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine, and you have to think about how you fill those gaps. And that's something we've been thinking about from a power generation standpoint. Looking at what are other technologies that can provide what we call clean firm generation or long-duration storage.

Michael Terrell [00:27:22] We're looking at things like advanced nuclear or enhanced geothermal or green hydrogen or other technologies. And we've actually signed the first corporate enhanced geothermal agreement for a project in Nevada that just went operational last fall. So, we're really happy about that, and hoping that we can do more of these kinds of deals.

Michael Crabb [00:27:44] Yeah, that's really cool. You had another announcement on energy procurement as well, which I'm sure we'll get to. How do you think about all of those new technologies? You almost have to put yourself back in your headspace that you were 12 or 13 years ago, right? You're taking the risk that solar could scale up, that wind could scale up. How do you pick the horse or horses across that basket of technologies?

Michael Terrell [00:28:12] It's a great question. It's interesting... It does feel now a lot like it felt back in the early days of wind and solar. There was a time where we weren't sure how solar was going to scale. We weren't sure if it was going to be solar PV or if it was going to be mirrors in the desert. And I know, because we did a mirrors in the desert project. But luckily, we did a lot more PV projects, and then when it became clear which of the technologies was going to be the one that would be the most scalable, we put all our eggs in the PV basket when it came to solar. So, it feels very similar to that.

Michael Terrell [00:28:50] Take advanced nuclear. There are a number of different technologies around SMRs, Gen III and Gen IV. And we're not all sure exactly which one of those is going to be the one to scale, but we just need to start getting projects off the ground and getting pilot projects built and just moving forward. But the interesting thing is there is a suite of technologies that really are next in line relative to wind and solar and lithium-ion storage, and we're very committed to trying to get those technologies built and to scale so that not only we can use them, but that they can help benefit everybody.

Michael Crabb [00:29:30] Is there something to tease for the audience on that, or it's still early innings?

Michael Terrell [00:29:35] Well, we just last week announced a partnership with Microsoft and Nucor Steel in the US where we're going to actually aggregate our demand for these new technologies, for energy, and really try to work together to try to get these deployed sooner and scaled faster. We're hoping to send a really strong signal to the market by doing that. We've issued an RFP for projects. We're going to look at signing offtake projects, and also looking creative market structures and commercial structures, the kinds of things that it takes to get first-of-their-kinds of projects built and off the ground. So, we're really excited about that. We're hoping that we'll be a vehicle for just speeding things up.

Michael Terrell [00:30:24] I think with climate change, we're not moving fast enough. We have to really work together as a global community to really accelerate these technologies and get them built and get them scaled as quickly as possible. And so, to try to shave some time off that, we're willing to work collectively with other companies and developers and utilities and regulators and others to try to get this next suite of technologies that we know are going to be necessary for solving climate, get those built and scaled.

Michael Crabb [00:30:57] Yeah. All of the above, all the time, right? I mean, that's got to be the mantra for the next five or ten years. With all of the wind and solar that has gone in, it's still... We might be getting close, but we're still adding more carbon intensity year over year, it's just at a slower rate of change. So, it's just starting to get to that asymptote; there's still a lot of work left.

Michael Crabb [00:31:21] I interrupted you. Did I let you get to all three of your pillars?

Michael Terrell [00:31:25] I think we did. I think we hit responsive demand, ML to optimize wind, and then advanced technologies.

Michael Crabb [00:31:32] Give us a sense of what those different commercial structures are. Like, if we were a fly on the wall of your Microsoft-Nucor-Google conversations. What should folks who listen to this who are developing these climate technologies be preparing for you to ask?

Michael Terrell [00:31:51] Well, we've tried to put some parameters around what we're looking for that help to steer the market and provide a little more certainty for people who are developing projects. We've spelled that out in an RFP, and we're looking for certain kinds of project size, a certain performance around how they do on carbon in terms of their carbon emissions or, I would say, lack of carbon emissions. Talking about the technologies that we're interested in, I mentioned some of those already. So, those are the kinds of parameters that we're giving to the market. And I think we'll have to sit down with utilities and developers and others and see what kinds of structures we can put in place to help get projects signed and built.

Michael Terrell [00:32:35] And you have to do things like manage some of the uncertainty that comes with some of these technologies that haven't been built at scale. You've got to be able to manage risk. You've got to be able to have an agreement in place that allows projects to get financing. And so, you need all of those elements to get projects built, and that's certainly something that we're going to be looking at.

Michael Crabb [00:32:58] And how do you think about the balance? The one question I had in my head... And I'm really glad of the timing of this, because I obviously saw the RFI come out and I wanted to talk to you about it. How do you balance narrowing down the options and working on the details of those commercial agreements which take time and resources, versus...

Michael Crabb [00:33:16] I'll do the opposite example, and I know it's not this... But literally just sign a PPA with every single one of those... You listed 3 or 4 technologies; there are 250 companies in that basket. Like, tell them the price and just run an auction, right? Geography be damned, size be damned. I get it's not that many, but you could sign 50 PPAs and still not make a dent in your growth plans, right? I mean, if you add you and Microsoft together, it's going to be like a small country.

Michael Terrell [00:33:53] Well, that's some of the thinking. Can we be more efficient working collectively? So for example, instead of being in markets negotiating against Microsoft... If we're both negotiating with the same developer but doing it separately and competing against each other in the way we structure terms, can we work together and will that be more efficient? Can we share knowledge, can we share learnings with both them and Nucor and other buyers, too? I think we're opening this to other potential buyers who might want to be part of it as well.

Michael Terrell [00:34:27] I would say, there are a lot of potential technologies and products and projects, but it's still not a huge number. The trick here is to get some of these early projects off the ground so we can learn from them and then start to build the bigger, larger, more scalable type projects and then starting to repeat those over and over and over again. That's what we're hoping to achieve by working together with others in the market that we know are looking for the same thing we are. Instead of us all going out separately and signing agreements or negotiating against each other, let's just pool our resources and work together.

Michael Terrell [00:35:05] And I think utilities welcome that too because it's more efficient for them as well, and same for developers. They're able to have a little bit more of a one-stop shop of buyers that are interested in these technologies. And I think again, collectively, it sends a strong signal to the market.

Michael Crabb [00:35:25] Yeah, the market signal's definitely true. The developer hat in me is like a little bit unsure, right? But I certainly understand the sentiment around aggregating the demand and sharing learnings. I would be a little nervous... And feel free to push back. I'd be a little nervous that is almost prone to analysis paralysis a little bit, right? Like, I can only imagine the suite of responses you're going to get. There are three very opinionated sets of people in the room. It's going to be a challenge to sort of steer that battleship, if you will, to real conclusions. But I'm sure you've been working on this for a while, so it's an unfair outsider view, probably.

Michael Terrell [00:36:16] It's a good observation, but I think they have really great teams and we've learned a lot from each other. We are eager to get projects built and deployed, so I think it'll actually help us move more quickly versus slowing us down.

Michael Terrell [00:36:34] We're part of something similar called Frontier Climate, which is an advanced market commitment for carbon removal technologies and for both nature-based and technology-based removal technologies, and we have corporate partners that are part of that as well. And it's been really effective in terms of sharing knowledge and sharing diligence and other things. And we've been able to get projects out the door as part of that. So, we're hoping to take some of the best aspects of that model and apply it here when it comes to some of these advanced technologies.

Michael Terrell [00:37:05] I think also, too, it doesn't preclude us from going and doing deals on our own. We're going to continue to work with the market on that as well, but we just want to be creating as many options for getting projects built as possible.

Michael Crabb [00:37:22] Very cool, very cool. Okay, so looking forward, you've got all these efforts. We're having this conversation five years from now. What do you think we're talking about?

Michael Terrell [00:37:33] In terms of what the market looks like or where we are on this journey?

Michael Crabb [00:37:37] You tell me. If Michael can decide exactly what that path is or your vision comes to exact reality, what is that?

Michael Terrell [00:37:47] Well, it's a really exciting time. If you think about... Like, the teens were about the scaling of clean generation to gigawatt scale for the first time, when it came to wind and solar and this new suite of renewable energy technologies beyond what we had used before with hydro and nuclear. I think the '20s are about this much more dynamic system. The old system was more of a one-way system where you had generation that sold into the grid. The way things are trending is much more dynamic.

Michael Terrell [00:38:23] Obviously, much more electricity focused. We need to electrify everything and we need to scale. And we want to triple electricity demand by 2050; that's actually good for the world and good for the climate. But we need to do that in a much smarter way with real-time mapping and simulation of electricity grids, more responsive demand. I talked about that... Demand response, load shifting, automation of loads. More diverse power generation. So, not just solar and wind, but geothermal and nuclear. Technologies like hydrogen and long-duration storage.

Michael Terrell [00:39:00] And then, just keeping the focus on power grids. I think that's a big part of this. How do we get grids to be deep penetration of clean energy into grids? It'll take all of these things to do that. That's where we're heading. I mean, I get real excited about thinking about getting grids to where they're almost entirely carbon free.

Michael Terrell [00:39:23] We now have seven data center sites around the world that are at 90% or above carbon-free energy in terms of all the hours that they use in a year. I mean, that's incredibly exciting, and it shows that we can do this. So, how do we continue to expand upon that and make that the reality in many more places? I think that's what's exciting about what we're doing.

Michael Crabb [00:39:46] Yeah. Well, we're going to have to talk in 5 years and in 10 and in 15. You've got a full list of stuff, right? Totally.

Michael Terrell [00:39:53] I'll be there.

Michael Crabb [00:39:54] Totally. Incredible. To wrap up, anything we didn't talk about that we should?

Michael Terrell [00:40:01] I think I would say, for us, it's not just about getting to 24/7 carbon-free energy, we've also set a goal to be net zero. And I think that's another frontier of technology development and progress, which is looking at corporate value chains. And how do we take some of the learnings from the work that we've done around Scope 2 emissions and our power consumption and apply that to our value chains? And that's going to be really exciting and, I hope, a big opportunity for change. And I will come back in five years and talk about all the progress we've made there, because that's another exciting challenge we're facing now.

Michael Crabb [00:40:42] Amazing. Yeah, you've got your work cut out for you. I'll let you go save the world, but thanks so much for sharing all of your experience and wisdom.

Michael Terrell [00:40:50] Thanks for having me.

EIC_Logo_Final__Primary Icon Medium .png


bottom of page