Green.Org sat down with Jonathan Cremonesi to chat about sustainable energy storage and GKN Hydrogen North America, where he leads applications engineering efforts.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I am a 26-year-old French American from Oceanside, California. Growing up, my greatest passions aside from learning were surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding. The connection I have built over the last two decades with nature mostly through surfing has been most influential on my life perspective and has inspired my entire education and career track. After graduating as Valedictorian of my high school, I studied Applied Mathematics at UC San Diego with a focus on applications in the natural sciences. I understood that climate change is the greatest existential threat to life on Earth as we know and love and for this reason, I dedicated myself to focusing on the solutions I believed would be most impactful towards mitigating this threat. After finishing my BS degree, I worked in the renewable energy industry for several years as an engineer and project manager dedicated to facilitating the transition to a sustainable energy future. Now, I lead the applications engineering efforts at GKN Hydrogen North America where we deploy the world’s safest and most sustainable metal hydride-based hydrogen storage systems. I believe that green hydrogen as a carbon-free energy vector will have a great impact on our global energy transition and decarbonization efforts. I’ve also recently returned to UC San Diego as a graduate student in the Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering department studying Computational Engineering & Science with a focus on power systems modeling and applied plasma physics for fusion energy. I hope to contribute as much as possible to develop the technologies I believe have great potential to solve our greatest energy challenges, namely energy storage and clean baseload energy supply, in a safe and sustainable way. Please feel free to connect and chat with me on Linkedin!
What would you do with $1 billion dollars?
With a billion dollars, I’d invest most of it in advancing the technologies I believe could have the greatest impact on accelerating the transition to a sustainable future. Expanding global access to affordable, sustainable electricity would catalyze progress in poverty reduction, socioeconomic equality, clean water, food security, education, healthcare, and more. My billion-dollar vision is to make this future a reality by empowering those in need and fostering global cooperation across the socioeconomic spectrum. Building the necessary infrastructure would generate jobs and empower people—an essential starting point. Any remaining funds would support my goal of completing a PhD and establishing a charitable foundation with a fellowship to empower students with similar life goals and challenges. Empowering the youth is vital, as they are the future stewards of our world.
Why do you think sustainability is such an important topic today?
In essence, I believe we all have a moral duty to safeguard our planet and ensure a better future for all living beings. It’s truly fascinating to consider the improbable existence of life on Earth. It is such a unique and precious occurrence in the cosmos and something that should not be taken for granted. We should cherish and protect our present and future existence through the pursuit of sustainability. It takes a hard look in the mirror to confront the mistakes we’ve made so far in our development as a civilization and the resulting effects but if we wish to sustain rather than extinguish life on Earth for future generations, we must face the ugly truth and work together to build a sustainable future. In my view this is the only way to avoid the major extinction event already in progress now.
What do you envision your industry looking like in ten years?
In ten years, I think green hydrogen will be economically competitive and environmentally advantageous in many industries and applications including energy storage, power generation, steel and chemical production, transportation, and many others. As an emissions-free energy vector, the future of green hydrogen seems bright but there is much work to be done in terms of technological advancements, policy changes, and infrastructure development. I hope in 10 years’ time that its adoption at scale in many applications will have progressed greatly. Worldwide decarbonization initiatives are required now and green hydrogen has great potential to help us to achieve this. Regarding hydrogen isotopes, I hope that within the next decade we begin to see magnetic confinement fusion experiments producing net energy gain and progressing towards a commercially viable power plant. While significant challenges remain, achieving economically competitive fusion energy could offer a safe, clean, and ideal energy solution for the world in perpetuity. I am hopeful that the ITER project will help to solve many of the fusion industry’s challenges, serve as a symbol of global cooperation, and inspire global leaders to tackle climate change together.