Eaton: breakdown of revenues by product category?

Eaton revenue breakdown

Eaton is a power-electronics super-giant, listed in the US, employing 86,000 people, generating $20bn per annum of revenues and with a market cap of $57bn at the time of writing. Large conglomerate companies can be opaque. The data-file is an Eaton revenue breakdown. We have aimed to guess how $20bn pa of net sales is distributed across 200 different product categories.

All roads lead to power electronics. A finding across our research is that energy transition, as a theme, is going to be a kingmaker for power electronics, in order to integrate volatile wind and solar resources into grids, protect sensitive equipment and electrify more industrial and consumer processes.

We have written excitedly about power grid capex quadrupling to $1trn pa in the 2040s, with constructive thematic outlooks on power lines, industrial UPS, capacitor banks, variable frequency drives, transformers, power quality, next-gen switchgear and smart energy systems.

Eaton is increasingly focused on Power Electronics. Eaton’s revenue has shifted from 40% power-electronics in 2011-12 to 75% power-electronics in 2022 (chart below), especially after the company sold its hydraulics business to Danfoss in August-2021 for $3.3bn.

Eaton revenue breakdown

This data-file aims to break down Eaton’s revenues across product categories, using simple educated guesswork. The complexity is overwhelming (chart below). Eaton has over 10,000 SKUs, across 200 different categories. Its product split covers everything from electric vehicle charging, through to missile guidance systems, illuminated emergency exit signs and golf grips. Nevertheless, our breakdown does yield some conclusions.

Eaton revenue breakdown

Exposure to the energy transition. We think 25% of Eaton’s business is less directly exposed to the energy transition, albeit it is still important for the world to invest in aerospace & defence, and efficient vehicles. Another 25% of our Eaton revenue breakdown is exposed to themes with positive tailwinds in the energy transition. And the largest, c50% of the business is exposed to themes with very supportive tailwinds in the energy transition.

Disclaimer. In many cases, there is not much public information to go on. So this data-file is very much a case of educated guesswork, based on our understanding of what different product categories are, how big their market sizes are, and then juggling some plausible combinations of price x volume, estimated across each category.

Battery degradation: causes, effects & implications?

What causes battery degradation?

This 14-page note offers five rules of thumb to maximize the longevity of lithium-ion batteries, in grid-scale storage and electric vehicles. The data suggest hidden upside in the demand for batteries, for lithium and high-quality power electronics, especially if batteries are to backstop renewables.

Battery degradation: what causes capacity fade?

Battery degradation rates

We have aggregated and cleaned publicly available data into lithium ion battery degradation rates, from an excellent online resource, integrating 7M data-points from Sandia National Laboratory. Our data-file quantifies how battery degradation is minimized by limited cycling, slower charging-discharging, stable temperatures and LFP chemistries.

In the underlying laboratory studies that we have assessed, researchers have charged and discharged different batteries, across several thousand cycles, while measuring their capacity fade and round trip efficiencies. The goal is to understand how charging rates, state of charge, cycling conditions, temperatures and cell chemistry interact to determine battery degradation.

Battery lifespans range from 500 cycles to 20,000 cycles, depending on conditions.

The best conditions for long life spans of lithium ion batteries are using LFP chemistry, charging within a limited range, at low charge-discharge rates (C-rates) at a stable temperature of around 25C. This might be associated with a decline rate for batteries of around 2% per 1,000 cycles.

The fastest degradation rates for lithium ion batteries were seen in NCA chemistries, cycled from 0% state of charge to 100% state of charge, at high temperatures, and high discharge rates around 3C.

These lab studies show quite high variability, which is frustrating, as we would all like to pull out good rules of thumb for what drives battery degradation. But there is a fair degree of randomness in when a cell ultimately ‘fails’, as shown in the chart below, which aggregates the data on four different NMC cells tested under exactly the same conditions.

Battery degradation rates

We have also tabulated other data into lithium ion battery degradation rates from technical papers that crossed our screen, as a useful reference, in case you are looking for aggregated data on the degradation rates of lithium ion batteries. Our notes on these technical papers are summarized in the final tab of the data-file.

Please note, this data-file does not contain any of the raw data from, which is free to download and to visualize from the underlying source. We draw out the implications of battery degradation data in our latest battery research, and in our broader battery research.

Supercapacitors: case studies for renewable-heavy grids?

Supercapacitor case studies

The purpose of this data-file is to review supercapacitor case studies, to see if they are being used to back up renewable-heavy grids? Our conclusion is that super-capacitors are well-suited to backstopping short-term wind and solar volatility, and their deployment will gradually surprise to the upside, in combination with other power-electronics.

The motivation for this work is that we recently evaluated the second-by-second volatility of solar and wind output, which incur 80-100 volatility events per day, of which c70-80% last less than 60-seconds. In turn, this volatility profile is well suited to be backed up by super-capacitors, directly, or in combination with other batteries such as lithium ion. So do case studies show increasing deployment of super-capacitors?

The build-up in our data-file has aggregated a dozen recent examples of super-capacitor deployments, based on the disclosures from leading companies, such as Skeleton, Eaton, Vinatech. Many companies endorsed the logic above (quoted in the data-file). Installations typically range from 10kW to 10MW, with 5 – 30 seconds of energy storage (chart below-left), and costs of $30/kW.

Supercapacitor case studies

Advantages of super-capacitors, cited in many of the case studies, are very rapid responses (20 milliseconds), up to 1M charge-discharge cycles over 15-years (i.e., very low degradation) and safe functionality across wide-temperature ranges (-40ºC to +65ºC). Again, details are in the data-file.

Uses of super-capacitors are broadening. Short-term volatility events may cause $100bn pa of damage to electrical equipment. Around 100,000 wind turbines now use super-capacitors to feather their blades. Many industrial machines also have jagged power demand profiles (example above right, a servo-press used to stamp metal plates in auto-manufacturing). Peak power draw can be reduced over 80% with ultracapacitors. This matters as ‘peak power use’ can explain 50% of industrial power bills.

At grid scale, progress is slowly accelerating. One excellent case study from Eaton highlighted how a data-center could earn €50k per year by providing 1MW of demand-smoothing, kicking in within <1-second to prevent frequency drops in an increasingly renewable-heavy grid. Vinatech also noted a MW-scale super-capacitor in Korea, deemed to be more cost-effective and safe than other grid-scale batteries.

Our conclusion from these supercapacitor case studies is that this market will likely surprise to the upside. Ultracapacitors are particularly well-suited to back up the short-term volatility of renewables. But the trend is opaque, as many of the super-capacitor installations overleaf are small, not subject to the fanfare of large press releases, and integrated alongside other power electronics.

Powin: grid-scale battery breakthrough?

Powin technology review

Powin commercializes energy storage solutions. Its hardware and software are branded as ‘Powin Stack’ and ‘Stack OS’. Hence we have used our usual patent framework to conduct a Powin technology review.

Powin — Company and Patent Review

Powin is privately owned. Its roots go back to 1989. It is based in Portland, Oregon. And it has c300 employees at the time of writing. By 2022, the company has delivered 2.5 GWH of storage projects.

Our Powin technology review finds a moat around specific process improvements for the installation and operation of grid-scale batteries. These are described in the data-file.

Overall, the patent library scores well on our patent framework. The patent library is robust enough to deter simple copy-catting. Although there may also be some controversy around the differentiation of some patent claims. (Differentiation is always a question mark for companies in these kinds of supply chains).

Advantages of Powin’s battery systems are their modularity, streamlined installation and software. A guideline is 200 MWH-AC of storage per acre. This is 30% more compact than other solutions. The total time to procure a Centipede system, of inter-connected Powin battery modules, is c50% less than stick-built solutions.

Our patent review found that half of Powin’s IP is software-side. This includes smart features allowing operators to control the way batteries are balanced. The technology also tracks whether batteries are still covered within warranty, on systems envisaged to have a 20-year life.

Context for grid-scale batteries

Grid-scale batteries are growing increasingly important, especially in regions with high renewables penetrations, to backstop the short-term volatility of solar and short-term volatility of wind.

The chart below captures 30 deployments of Powin battery systems. They range from 1 – 90 MW. These deployments have been growing more frequent, and larger.

Interestingly, some recent solar projects have elected to construct 0.2 – 1.0 MW of battery capacity per MW of solar capacity.

Powin technology review

Our full conclusions on Powin’s patents and technology, and the data behind charts, are spelled out in the data-file…

Solar volatility: interconnectors versus batteries?

Interconnectors cure renewables volatility

The solar energy reaching a given point on Earth’s surface varies by +/- 6% each year. These annual fluctuations are 96% correlated over tens of miles. And no battery can economically smooth them. Solar heavy grids may thus become prone to unbearable volatility. Our 17-page note outlines this important challenge, and finds that the best solutions are to construct high-voltage interconnectors and keep power grids diversified.

Power grids: global investment?

global investment in power grids

This simple model integrates estimates the global investment in power grids that will be needed in the energy transition, as a function of simple input variables that can be stress-tested: such as total global electricity growth, the acceleration of renewables, and the associated build-out of batteries, EV charging, long-distance inter-connectors and grid-connected capital equipment for synthetic inertia and reactive power compensation.

Global investment into power networks averaged $280bn per annum in 2015-20, of which two-thirds was for distribution and one-third was for transmission. This is a good baseline.

Our base case outlook in the energy transition would see total global investment in power grids stepping up to $400bn in 2025, $600bn in 2030, $750bn in 2035 and $1trn pa in the 2040s.

Our scenario is also not particularly aggressive around renewables, which are seen accelerating by 10x to provide around 20-25% of all global energy in 2050. You can realistically reach $2trn pa of global power network investment in a scenario that relies more heavily upon renewables and batteries.

Amazingly, these numbers can actually become larger than the total spending on producing all global primary energy. Whereas in the past, transmission and distribution were a kind of side-show, equivalent to c30% of total primary energy investment, the energy transition could see them become comparable, at 50-100%.

Definitions. By ‘power networks’ we are referring to the grid, which moves electrical energy from producers to consumers. Please note that our classification of power grids excludes (a) investments in primary energy production, such as renewables, nuclear, and hydro (b) investments in large conventional power-generating plants (c) downstream investments made by customers, such as in switchgear, power electronics and amperage upgrades.

The model can be downloaded to stress-test simple numbers, inputs and outputs. Please contact us know if the work provokes any questions, or further numbers that we can helpfully pull together for TSE clients.

Nostromo: thermal energy storage breakthrough?

Nostromo technology review

Nostromo technology review. Nostromo is a public company, founded in 2016, with c40 employees in Israel and California. Website here. It is commercializing a thermal energy storage system, which integrates with AC, to store coolness (e.g., during peak wind/solar generation), then re-release the coolness at ‘peakload’, (e.g., in mid-late afternoon, or after sunset).

The flagship product is called ‘IceBrick’, a modular, water-based energy storage cell, which can be retro-fitted onto most commercial buildings in about 4-6 months. It claims 86-92% round-trip energy efficiency, 94% depth of discharge over 4-hours and <1% degradation over 20-years.

We have reviewed the company’s patents on our usual patent framework. Nostromo’s patent library is concentrated, but it scores highly on our framework, as it lays out specific challenges that have hampered other designs, very specific details on how Nostromo’s system improves efficiency and consistency, and the patent library is also easy-to-understand, focused and considers deployments.

The technology is an exciting alternative and complement to lithium ion batteries for energy storage, or more specifically demand shifting. It may be particularly well-suited to commercial buildings in hot climates, where AC can comprise 50% of peakload power generation, per our note here. The main challenge is system costs, explored in the data-file and compared with lithium cells and lithium battery storage. Finally, we think there may be other applications of phase change materials that do not simply accomplish energy storage, but also reductions in total energy consumption (note here).

Full details of our Nostromo technology review can be downloaded in our data-file below.

Further conclusions are linked in the recent article sent out to our distribution list, here.

24M: semi-solid battery breakthrough?

24M battery technology review

24M was founded in Cambridge, MA in 2010, spinning out of MIT. It now has over 100 employees and has raised over $100M in venture investments. It is licensing a “semi-solid” lithium ion battery technology, offering greater energy density and lower costs. It is the main technology provider for Freyr, Kyocera’s Enerezza product line, and being fine-tuned for use in Volkswagen’s electric vehicles, under a 2021/22 deal where the auto-maker took a 25% stake in 24M.

Semi-solid electrodes are aimed at “dramatically reducing” costs of lithium ion batteries, with higher energy density, safety and reliability, for use in battery storage (to replace gas peakers) and in electric transportation solutions. The process requires 50% less capex versus a conventional manufacturing line, mixing active materials in a clay-like slurry, and a dry coating process. Next-generation research is looking to couple the cells with lithium anodes for electric aviation.

Our patent review focuses in on a sample of c15 out of c50 distinct patents that 24M has filed. This clearly shows how the technology improves upon the prior art. Specifically, the traditional method for manufacturing battery electrodes is to coat a metallic current collector with a solution. The solvent is commonly N-methyl-pyrrolidone. As it evaporates, a thin layer remains, including the active materials and a ‘binder’ that acts as a glue. A common binder is polyvinylidene difluoride. The first drawback is that the electrode layer is thin (<100μm), whereas thicker materials can store more energy. The second drawback is that the binder does not store energy, it may even block energy from flowing (tortuosity), while it adds mass, volume and potential degradation pathways (oxidizing). The third issue is that evaporating the solvent and post-processing the material is time-consuming and complex.

24M battery technology review. Overall, 24M’s patents explain why large battery companies have licensed its simpler, more energy dense, lower-degradation battery manufacturing technology; the general workings of which are locked up for at least another decade. We see a moat and can partially de-risk the scale-up of semi-solid electrodes. However, we think there is one technical challenge that decision-makers should still factor in, plus three smaller risks.

To read more about our 24M battery technology review, please see our article here.

Pumped hydro: the economics?

Pumped Hydro Economics

This data-file assesses pumped hydro costs, as a means of backing up renewables. A typical project might have 0.5GW of capacity, 12-hours storage duration, and capex costs of $2,250/kW.

Our base case model of pumped hydro costs and economics therefore requires a ‘storage spread’ of around 25c/kWh, in order to generate a 10% IRR, which is not dissimilar from the economics of lithium ion batteries (recent notes here and here).

Inputs to the data-file include an overview of past projects and technical papers, in order to quantify capex drivers (chart below).

The data-file allows you to stress-test the impacts of lowering hurdle rates, capex costs, improving utilization, lower input power prices, higher round-trip efficiency, lower maintenance costs, lower labor costs, improved capex schedules or lower taxes.

In a best case scenario, it may be possible to reduce total storage spread to around 10c/kWh; while more marginal projects will require above 50c/kWh.

To read more about pumped hydro costs and economics, please see our article here.

Copyright: Thunder Said Energy, 2022.