Jussi Heikkinen on how to build the energy system of the future

How do we build the energy system of the future?

Jussi Heikkinen, Director of Growth & Development at Wärtsilä Energy in the Americas, has 40 years of experience in the energy sector so he has some expert insight into the issue, which he shared on a recent Wärtsilä podcast with Terence Mentor.

​​The main goal should be to increase renewables and ramp down fossil fuel power plants, according to Heikkinen. At the same time, we must make sure that we can ensure the security of the electricity supply under all conditions, while still producing minimal carbon emissions.

Many people ask why we can’t just switch to renewables like wind and solar power now? They are already becoming increasingly important in power generation across the world. The reason is because so much of our electricity is still being provided by inflexible coal plants.

Heikkiinen says to be able to switch completely to renewables, we have to build sufficient capacity in renewables, energy storage, and flexible gas power plants to produce electricity reliably in all situations. If we act decisively, we can close coal plants within the next 10 years, but we can’t suddenly simply ban fossil fuels outright, as it would affect the welfare of society. Instead, we need a good plan to carry it out.

Learn more about the ideal plan here.

This Company Helps Roughnecks Find Renewable Energy Jobs


Workrise makes its money by finding jobs for skilled laborers, handling their payroll and benefits and taking its cut from employers. The company works with Exxon Mobil Corp., General Electric Co. and First Solar Inc., among others. It sent more than four times as many people into renewable energy last year compared with 2019, placing about 4,500 skilled workers into green jobs like building solar farms or fixing lightning-damaged wind turbines. That was almost a third of all its workers in 2020. To learn more, read This Company Helps Roughnecks Find Renewable Energy Jobs.” Reading this article may require a subscription from the news outlet.

Key Takeaways:

  • When cold weather and grid failures left millions of Texans shivering in the dark without power the week of Valentine’s Day, both oil companies and clean-power plants tapped Workrise for help.
    • The company dispatched workers to keep drilling sites safe and operational, turning off wells and wrapping lines with insulation.
  • The company sees job training as a big part of the future of its business. It provided training for about 5% of its 8,000 workers in 2019, but in 2020 it trained 15% of its 15,000 workers.
  • Workrise also wants to take advantage of opportunities to send workers to plug methane-leaking wells and build carbon capture and underground storage. The company has already submitted some bids to provide workers to stop up abandoned wells, including on a project in North Dakota.

Path to 100% Perspective:

A variety of technologies and fuels will have a role to play along the Path to 100%. Some technologies commonly used today will see a decreased role as decarbonization becomes a priority. A decarbonized grid will require an electricity mix powered by carbon-free or carbon neutral sources, as well as technologies that can balance the seasonal and daily changes in consumption, and weather variability, of key renewable energy sources like wind and solar. This energy transition will require an agile workforce and workforce development.


Photo by Science in HD on Unsplash

6 Out-of-the-Ordinary Energy Concepts From 2020


It’s been a “business-as-usual” year for renewables, despite the societal upheaval wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. Most 2020 headlines continue to highlight conventional renewable segments such as solar and energy storage. On the margins, virtual power plants have gone mainstream and green hydrogen has emerged as the energy carrier of choice for tomorrow’s fuel systems. But COVID-19 did little to dampen enthusiasm for more obscure energy concepts. To learn more, read “6 Out-of-the-Ordinary Energy Concepts From 2020.” 

Key Takeaways

  1. Filipino engineering student, Carvey Ehren Maigue has developed Aurora Renewable Energy and UV Sequestration or AuREUS, which uses vegetable-based panels as tinted films that can be applied to existing surfaces, such as walls and windows.
    • AuREUS’ ability to capture diffused ultraviolet rays is said to deliver a capacity factor of up to 50 percent, compared to a maximum of around 25 percent for photovoltaic (PV) solar energy.
  2. Salient Energy emerged from Shell’s GameChanger program with a zinc-ion battery chemistry believed to be cheaper, safer and longer-lasting than anything else on the market.
    • Salient claims its proprietary cathode materials store energy in zinc in a way that has never been commercialized before.
  3. Puerto Rican startup ReSynth specializes in “fuel enhancement” to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations from diesel and marine oils.
    • The fuel emulsion cuts sulfur and nitrous oxide emissions as well as carbon. Plus it has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy and the U.S. Coast Guard. It works with engines from major manufacturers such as Wärtsilä.
  4. Spanish firm Vortex Bladeless was founded in 2014, but 2020 was a year for notable milestones for the innovators. Vortex launched a small-scale product, less than three feet tall, to compete with low-power off-grid PV.
  5. The Ocean Grazer concept, based at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands has developed the Ocean Battery which stores energy by pumping fresh water into flexible bladders that are deflated by the pressure of the seawater column when power is needed.
  6. Alberta-based Eavor Technologies believes one of its Eavor-Loop systems can pull energy from the center of the earth to heat 16,000 homes or produce industrial-scale electricity via heat-to-power engines.

Path to 100% Perspective

The path to 100% has not already been paved, therefore, commitments to innovation and creativity are essential to developing solutions for different communities, regions and utilities. However, grid operators also navigate balance between obscure energy concepts and sustainability for power systems that energize communities around the world. The possibilities are endless as entrepreneurs and energy experts continue to collaborate towards flexibility and sustainability in order to reach a renewable energy future.


Photo by Rohan Makhecha on Unsplash

CEOs outline 3 trends hitting electricity


Major power companies held earnings calls in recent weeks to share their focus on issues such as expanding renewables and the role of hydrogen under a national push for 100 percent clean electricity. Additionally, CEO’s discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening to delay solar projects and defer grid maintenance. To learn more, read “CEOs outline 3 trends hitting electricity.” Reading this article may require a subscription.

Key Takeaways:

Here are the issues that major electric companies are focused on as 2020 winds down:

  • One effect of the coronavirus pandemic may impact renewable energy development. NRG Energy Inc. CEO Mauricio Gutierrez said a chunk of the pending purchased power in Texas may be delayed six to eight months because of supply chain and financing issues related to the virus.
  • CenterPoint Energy Inc. CEO David Lesar said the company will work on renewable natural gas and hydrogen renewables in Minnesota plus possible new transmission infrastructure to connect to renewable sources in Texas.
  • CEO John Ketchum of NextEra Energy Resources LLC said hydrogen will come into play if federal policy accelerates a zero-carbon goal by 2035.
  • Vistra Corp CEO Curt Morgan said Vistra has “a portfolio of highly efficient, low-emitting natural gas assets that can provide reliable, dispatchable power and complement the intermittent nature of renewable resources.” He explained a diverse portfolio enables renewable products that can ensure reliability and an affordable price. “Every reputable and objective study on the changing power generation landscape has natural gas playing a significant role for several years to come, especially as we electrify the economy,” Morgan said.

Path to 100% Perspective:

These are exciting times as the renewable energy future is a focus for so many organizations and governments around the world. Emerging technologies are moving closer to reality, which makes ambitious energy goals more realistic and the path to 100 percent renewable energy is now within reach. The big challenge facing power generators around the world is how to integrate renewables into the grid while building security of supply and a sustainable power system with an affordable plan for everyone involved. Renewable carbon neutral fuels such as hydrogen and synthetic methane are being explored as solutions for sustainable and reliable power systems. Curtailed renewable electricity is used in the process with water to produce Hydrogen, and carbon is captured from air to produce synthetic methane with hydrogen. These fuels are used in flexible power plants to provide a long term energy storage for seasonal and weather management needs.


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Q&A Series: Amaro Pereira Shares About His Work and Areas of Opportunity for Renewable Energy in Brazil

Amaro Pereira is an economist and associate professor of the Energy Planning Program (PPE) in the Institute of Graduate Studies in Engineering (COPPE) at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). He has experience in energy and environmental modeling, along with working in the areas of regulation of energy sectors, integration of new technologies and different energy sources on issues related to climate change.


Please describe yourself and your work.

I am an Associate Professor of the Energy Planning Program in the Institute of Graduate Studies in Engineering at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (PPE/COPPE/UFRJ). Additionally, I am a researcher at CentroClima and member of the Permanent Technical Committee of LIFE (Lasting Initiative for Earth) Institute. Previously, I was a technical advisor of the Energy Research Company (EPE) and Visiting Professor at the University Pierre Mendès-France in Grenoble, France and at the University of Texas at Austin, United States. My experience is in energy and environmental modelling, along with regulation of energy sectors, new technologies and climate change issues. 

As an associate professor of the Energy Planning Program at COPPE / UFRJ, what energy projects are you currently working on or interested in?

Currently, I’m involved in a collaboration with the National Institute of Technology Tiruchirappalli, in India, and Tomsk University, in Russia. The project is sponsored by BRICS funds. We are developing waste-to-energy technologies, such as pyrolysis and gasification. The idea is to produce synthetic oils or gases to feed Internal Combustion Engines. These are good options for flexible electricity generation.

Describe your passion for renewable energy and how you have put that to work in your country.

My background is energy modeling and I have been involved in many projects related to climate change. As Brazil is a country with many renewable source options to reduce GHG emissions, the passion for renewable energy was born naturally.

How would you like to see your work implemented on a global scale?

Showing solutions to reduce GHG emissions by deploying renewable energy projects, especially in developing countries.

You have said that one of the greatest areas of opportunity for Brazil’s renewable energy journey is the power sector. What do you mean by this?

First, because more than 60% of the electricity comes from hydro power plants with huge reservoirs which allows the regularization of water inflows and thus complementing the generation from solar and wind power. Also, due to the availability of many other natural resources.

Brazil is improving its flexible technologies, such as hydropower power plants, and investing in battery technology. What are your current hopes for Brazil as it continues on its path to 100 percent renewable energy? For example, what progress do you envision for the region over the next few years?

In our project, we want to present another way to provide flexible generation to complement the intermittence of solar and wind power via synthetic oil produced or gases by waste-to-energy technologies.