Shoals: solar-electronic breakthrough?

Shoals Technologies Group manufactures electrical balance of system solutions for solar energy projects, focused on promoting reliability, safety and ease of installation. The company went public in January-2021, raising $1.9bn in an IPO, which was upsized due to strong demand and valued the overall company above c$5bn.

Our patent review finds a technology moat to help improve solar competitiveness. This includes plug-and-play electrical   connections, guards to secure those connections, accomodating one fuse and more electronics per panel  rather than shared across many panels, and discconnect mechanisms that facilitate maintenance. Full details are in the data-file.

Energy economics: an overview?

This data-file provides an overview of 60 different economic models constructed by Thunder Said Energy, in order to help you put numbers in context.

Specifically, the model provides summary economic ratios from our different models across conventional power, renewables, conventional fuels, lower-carbon fuels, manufacturing processes, infrastructure and nature-based solutions.

For example, EBIT margins range from 3-70%, cash margins range from 4-85% and net margins range from 2-50%, hence you can use the data-file to ballpark what constitutes a “good” margin, sub-sector by sub-sector.

Likewise capital intensity ranges from $300-9,000kWe, $5-7,500/Tpa and $4-125M/kboed. So again, if you are trying to ballpark a cost estimate you can compare it with the estimated costs of other processes.

The Top Public Companies for an Energy Transition

This data-file compiles all of our insights into publicly listed companies and their edge in the energy transition: commercialising economic technologies that advance the world towards ‘net zero’ CO2 by 2050.

Each insight is a differentiated conclusion, derived from a specific piece of research, data-analysis or modelling on the TSE web portal; summarized alongside links to our work. Next, the data-file ranks each insight according to its economic implications, technical readiness, its ability to accelerate the energy transition and the edge it confers on the company in question.

Each company can then be assessed by adding up the number of differentiated insights that feature in our work, and the average ‘score’ of each insight. The file is intended as a summary of our differentiated views on each company.

The screen is updated monthly. At the latest update, in February-2021, it contains 200 differentiated views on 100 public companies.

The Top 40 Private Companies for an Energy Transition

This data-file presents the ‘top 40’ private companies out of several hundred that have crossed our screens since the inception of Thunder Said Energy, looking back across all of our research.

For each company, we have used apples-to-apples criteria to score  economics, technical readiness, technical edge, decarbonization credentials and our own depth of analysis.

The data-file also contains a short, two-line description follows for each company, plus links to our wider research, which will outline each opportunity in detail.

Copper: leading producers?

This data-file is a screen of the world’s largest copper miners and producers, covering 16 companies that produce half of all global output.

We have tabulated each company’s size, type, headcount, patent count, production, reserves, RP ratio, relative exposure, key assets and other notes.

The average company produces around 0.8MTpa of copper, has a 30-year reserve life, and derives 30% of its EBITDA from copper.

Small-scale wind turbines: leading companies?

This screen compares the offerings of a dozen small-scale wind turbine providers, with power ratings in the range of 30kW of lower, for residential energy generation. Costs range from $1,000-6,000/kW.

For each company, we have tabulated their size, experience to-date, turbine parameters, estimated costs and system reliability.

The three key challenges are performance, relaibility and cost. We believe that resolving these issues creates a material opportunity for small-scale wind generation.

Heat pumps: a screen of providers and reviews?

This data-file tabulates our subjective opinions on c20 different heat pump companies, and our own preferences to use their heat pump on a future European residential heating project.

Factors we have considered include pricing, reliability, efficiency, company size, the range of models, integration with home smart energy systems, and visual/acoustic properties.

A large portion of the work was based on tabulating customer reviews, from online forums. A key challenge is opacity, as many companies do not provide full pricing details on their models or have many customer reviews.

Transformers: companies and costs?

This data-file aims to tabulate helpful data on the grid-scale transformer industry, covering the sizes (tons), costs ($/kW) and companies in the space.

Specifically, we have aimed to disaggregate the costs of transformers across ten different categories, including the use of input materials, such as steel and copper.

We have also profiled companies in the transformer space, illustrating a competitive market, split between large capital goods companies, emerging Chinese companies and pure-plays.

Form Energy: long-duration battery breakthrough?

Form Energy is developing long-duration energy storage to backstop renewables. The company is based in Massachusetts, has 130 employees and was founded in 2017 by a former lead from Tesla’s stationary battery team. The company said in 2020 that it intended to deploy its first 1MW/150MWh long-duration storage system by 2023.

The technology is an iron-air battery. There is a fuel anode, which metallizes during charging (gain of electrons) and which oxidizes during discharging (loss of electrons). At the air-breathing cathode O2 gas ionizes into the solution during discharging (gain of electrons) and evolves as a gas during charging (loss of electrons).

Compared to other patent libraries we have reviewed, we found it more challenging to de-risk Form’s metal-air battery technology, as a means of providing low-cost, long-duration storage using only Earth-abundant materials. Further explanation in the data-file.


Siemens Gamesa: giant wind turbine breakthroughs?

Siemens Gamesa is a leader in offshore wind, listed in Spain, with a €34bn order book and 26k employees (in 2021). It is pushing the boundaries of offshore wind, launching a 14MW turbine in 2020, with a 222-meter rotor diameter.

This data-file scores 50 of the company’s recent patents from 2020-21, using our usual framework. Many of the innovations were specific, intelligible improvements. We would loosely estimate that half of these are aimed at resolving challenges being incurred with the up-scaling of turbines.

The data-file will be helpful if you are looking for specific details into Siemens Gamesa’s innovations and the focus areas in its patents. Which are broad-ranging.

Our main debate is whether these innovations are truly deflationary, as many of them seem to add complexity, including in blade design, operational  monitoring, transportation issues and electrical smoothing.