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Weekly Dose of Optimism #50
Great Work, Hydrogen Demand, Texan Renewables, CEQA, USA
Hi friends 👋,
Happy Friday and welcome back to our 50th Weekly Dose of Optimism.
The Big 5-0. Turns out that the world consistently produces enough optimistic stuff each week that writing a weekly newsletter on the topic is actually quite easy.
It’s starting to feel like, at least amongst a certain set of influential people, that optimism is becoming the optimal strategy. It’s in vogue to be optimistic. That’s certainly not because of this newsletter, but if we have played even a small role in that, then we’re closer to accomplishing our mission.
Let’s get to it.
The Weekly Dose is brought to you by…PartnerHero
The key to growth is customer experience.
When Dan started Create, he spent 30+ hours per week answering CX tickets. Now, his CX is fully outsourced, which not only frees up hours each day but also means he has a team fully dedicated to that area of the business. It’s a win-win.
What most founders come to realize is that CX isn’t a cost center. It’s a growth channel. Companies that invest in customer experience early reduce churn, increase LTV, and drive more referrals. But building a support team on your own can take a lot of time and money. That’s where PartnerHero comes in.
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By Paul Graham
There may be some jobs where it's an advantage to be cynical and pessimistic, but if you want to do great work it's an advantage to be optimistic, even though that means you'll risk looking like a fool sometimes. There's an old tradition of doing the opposite. The Old Testament says it's better to keep quiet lest you look like a fool. But that's advice for seeming smart. If you actually want to discover new things, it's better to take the risk of telling people your ideas.
Chances are that if you read The Weekly Dose of Optimism, you also came across Paul Graham’s latest essay on Twitter or LinkedIn or elsewhere this week. When Paul Graham writes, our corner of the internet tends to read. And for good reason, Graham is the former founder or Viaweb and founder of Y-Combinator — so when he writes about how to do great work, it’s probably going to contain some good nuggets in there.
The whole essay will take about 60 minutes to read and we encourage you to carve out some time this weekend to do it. We’re not going to share the newsletter version of “Here’s 10 game-changing insights from Paul Graham’s latest essay” but it basically comes down to “find a subject that you’re genuinely curious about and spend seemingly ridiculous amounts of time working and learning about that field.”
One particularly interesting (and relevant) part of the essay was Graham’s reflection on pessimism. He concedes that, in some fields, it’s advantageous to be pessimistic, but if you want to do great work optimism is an advantage.
Pessimists sound smart. Optimists do great work.
Daniel Moore for Bloomberg Law
The Energy Department would spend $1 billion to boost demand for clean hydrogen under a new plan to provide initial revenue for the first large-scale producers and provide certainty for potential buyers.
The department plans to issue a notice of intent Wednesday that explores an initiative to make demand-side commitments to hydrogen producers as part of its much-anticipated $8 billion regional hydrogen hub program launched last September.
The Department of Energy is looking to boost demand for clean hydrogen, which is a small part of the Biden Administration’s plan to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the US economy by 2050. The problem with hydrogen, as it currently stands, is that there isn’t a ton of demand for it. And there isn’t a ton of demand for it because energy industry buyers are naturally conservative. Conservative, not in the political sense, but in the “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM” meaning of the term.
So there’s no demand, and because there’s no demand, there’s no investment in hydrogen infrastructure, and because there’s no investment in infrastructure, the switch to hydrogen becomes a riskier proposition for energy buyers, and these guys don’t want to take unnecessary risk…and so on and so forth.
How to break this cycle? Inject $1B of government-backed demand into the system to turn the vicious cycle into a positive flywheel. It’s like a government-scale version of Frontier’s advance market commitment to accelerate carbon removal.
Catherine Rampell for The Washington Post
Though not exactly known for its bleeding-heart-liberal populace, Texas generates more electricity from wind and solar than any other state. Of the 710 megawatts of new battery storage that went online across the United States in the first three months of 2023, about 70 percent was in Texas alone, according to data from S&P Global.
Quick: name the state that’s leading the charge on renewable energy.
I bet Texas, the land of cowboy-hatted wildcatting oilmen, wasn’t the first state that came to mind. But the Friendship State generates more electricity from wind and solar than any other state, and contributed over 70% of all new battery storage capacity in the US this year.
This extra renewable energy has kept the lights on and the temperatures cool (actually, not speaking in innuendo here) in the hellishly hot state, and has likely saved state residents billions of dollar this year. So how did Texas, a state built on oil riches, find itself at the forefront of the renewable energy movement?
Well first, Texas is riding a much larger renewable wave. Federal incentives. Declining cost curves. Better battery technologies. All the things we write about in this newsletter that are driving the renewable energy movement.
But all states benefit from those changes, so why Texas? Landscape: Texas is sunny and windy, the perfect combo for solar and wind energy production. Demographics: Texas is a growing state. More people demand more energy. They need renewable energy capacity to stay online. And finally, permissive permitting: Texas makes it easy to build. Whether it’s houses or new renewable energy projects, ain’t no government bureaucrat gonna tell a Texan what he can or cannot build.
Ashley Zavala for KCRA3
California lawmakers on Wednesday approved Gov. Gavin Newsom’s infrastructure package that aims to make it easier and faster to build renewable energy, water and transportation projects in the state. The package of bills aims to cut down on the process, paperwork and litigation time for infrastructure projects that are subject to California’s Environmental Quality Act.
If building fast is cool, consider California…the least cool state ever. The state has…built…a reputation for pushed-back deadlines, missed budgets and regulatory nightmares. And for good reason — the California High-Speed Rail is years behind schedule and billions over budget, there’s a major housing shortage driving up housing prices, and basically any energy project knows it will be held up by CEQA (the California equivalent of NEPA) to the tune of millions in legal fees and years of regulatory headache.
California has gotten away this for years, but Governor Newsom has determined that it’s now politically popular to cut some of that red tape. His new package, which was passed by the California State Senate on Wednesday, makes it easier to build renewable energy, water, and transportation projects in the state.
This is a big win for California (assuming it actually leads to more efficient building) and likely a big win for the environment at large. CEQA, which is meant to protect the California government, has killed or slowed down (intentionally or not) renewable energy projects for years.
Brandon Griggs for CNN
At 366 feet tall and 516 feet wide, it’s being billed as the world’s largest spherical structure. Its bowl-shaped theater reportedly contains the world’s highest-resolution wraparound LED screen. And its exterior is fitted with 1.2 million hockey puck-sized LEDs that can be programmed to flash dynamic imagery on a massive scale – again, reportedly the world’s largest. It was fully illuminated for the first time Tuesday night to celebrate the Fourth of July.
Speaking of building things, on Tuesday Las Vegas unveiled the world’s largest spherical structure to celebrate the 4th of July. The structure, which stakes claim to a number of other “world’s largest” superlatives, is scheduled to become a mainstay of The Strip latest this year.
If we’re being honest, I have no idea why Las Vegas built this thing. But as Tobi Lutke summarized on Twitter, “We are builders and we need to build.” Whether it’s building high-utility energy infrastructure in California or vanity LED spheres in Sin City, our country builds shit. Or at least, we should build shit. That’s when we’re at our best.
And speaking of being pumped up about these United States of America, we think Jamie Dimon puts it best in this video.
America holds the best hand ever dealt. Best economy. Best military. Best universities. Strong work ethic and innovation. Peaceful neighbors. Natural resources.
Let’s double down. Let’s build on that lead. U.S.A U.S.A U.S.A
P.S. He’s definitely running.
That’s all for this week. Packy will be back on Tuesday. Have a great weekend!
Thanks for reading,
-Dan + Packy