Energy economics: an overview?

Overview of Energy Economics

This data-file provides an overview of energy economics: 90 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, transportation 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.

To read more about our overview of energy economics, please see our article here.

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 June-2022, it contains 260 differentiated views on 140 public companies.

The Top 50 Private Companies for an Energy Transition

This data-file presents the ‘top 50’ 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.

STATCOMs and SVCs: leading companies?

This data file looks for leading companies in STATCOMs and SVCs by aggregating all Western patents that refer in their title, abstract or claims to “STATCOMs”, “Static VAR Compensators”, or similar.

We have aimed to evaluate the leading companies in these evolving FACTS opportunities, stabilizing the voltage and reactive power of renewables, especially wind projects.

Overall, the space is concentrated, with only a handful of companies have a diversified product offering here. Two pure-play Capital goods companies stand out as the leaders. A third Western company is close behind, growing via acquisitions.

Strong competition is also seen from Japanese, Korean and increasingly Chinese manufacturers. We also identified half-a-dozen relatively concentrated pure-play companies, some listed, some private.

HVDC transmission: leading companies?

Leading companies in HVDC

Leading companies in HVDC. The global HVDC market is around $10bn per annum in 2021, growing at 7-11% per annum, with the goal of inter-connecting large renewables projects and stabilizing larger grids for the energy transition.

Numbers vary by project, but it might typically cost c€100-600 M to connect a large and remote renewables project to the grid or run a typical HVDC inter-connection line, including underground HVDC cabling that weighs 35kg/meter, plus associated, switchgear, power electronics, ancillary equipment and EPCI.

This data-file reviews the market leaders in HVDC, based on 5,500 patents filed over the past decade. A dozen companies stand out, with c$40bn of combined revenues from power transmission projects, equipment and materials.

In other words, the space is relatively concentrated across this small group of companies, although the companies are themselves relatively un-concentrated, with just c30% of the average one’s revenues coming from power transmission.

There are clear leaders in overall HVDC, in power cables and in input chemicals, in our view.

Recent Commentary: To read more about leading companies in HVDC, please see our article here. Our outlook on HVDC transmission is constructive, with costs and energy  penalties that are materially lower than batteries or hydrogen (note here).

Graphite producers: leading companies?

This data-file screens 15 companies that are developing graphite mines and downstream refining facilities, to upgrade their output into highly pure spheronized graphite that can be used as an anode material for lithium ion batteries and electric vehicles.

In each case, we have summarized the company’s listing, founding, size, concentration towards graphite, patents, project parameters and other key details.

There is a large landscape of junior mining companies here. However in our view, leaders will be those with the ability to integrate and demonstrate strong environmental performance, which will also correlate very closely with economic performance in this sub-industry.

Coal miners: a screen of Western companies?

In normal times, thermal coal producers have debatable ESG credentials, owing to being the highest carbon fossil fuel, and 2-3x higher CO2 intensity per MWH of useful energy than natural gas.

However, in 2022-25, we could be in a market where deployment of important energy transition technologies is being held back by energy shortages, which pull on the demand for thermal coal; and also metals shortages, which in turn pull on the demand for metallurgical coal. We might not go so far as to call coal an ESG investment.

Nevertheless, this data-file aims to screen 15 Western coal producers. This group produces around 500MTpa of thermal coal and 100MTpa of metallurgical coal from the US, Canada, Europe and Australia. Most companies have been cutting capacity and phasing back activity. In turn, this creates potential to ramp back c100MTpa of production amidst very deep energy shortages, equivalent to c400TWH of useful energy.

The screen highlights each company, its size, concentrated to coal, its asset base and other details around its longer-term strategy.

Power-MOSFETs for EV charging: a screen?

This data-file screens companies that make power-MOSFETs, especially for EV charging and new energies applications. These are the transistors used to convert AC inputs into safe, fault-free and high-power DC charging outputs.

The screen covers six of the leading public companies, each with 5-25% market share, making the industry relatively concentrated. We also profile the leading public producer of silicon carbide input materials.

In each case, we outline the company’s size, geography, focus, patents, market share and key notes on EV fast-charging MOSFETs.

Decarbonization targets: what do the data tell us?

The most comprehensive and useful online resource we have found to track different companies’ net zero commitments is zerotracker.net. The database is freely downloadable under a Creative Commons license. However, we have attempted to clean it up in this data-file, including some additional fields and analytics.

The result is 630 companies that have pledged to reach some definition of ‘net zero’. Although the commitments are somewhat skewed towards easier-to-decarbonize sectors, such as financials (22%), TMT (6%), professional services (5%), retail (5%), healthcare (4%).

The average year to achieve this is 2044, although again, it varies by sector, and easer-to-decarbonize sectors tend to have sooner-dated targets.

A key question is credibility. 20% of the companies are deemed to have unclear decarbonization objectives and 45% are assessed to lack a clear plan to reach their goals (interestingly, energy companies scored above average on both of these metrics, at 16% and 27%, which squares with our own experience that some sectors are working hard to tackle CO2).

Another key question is scope. We were impressed to find that 50% of companies are including Scope 3 emissions in their decarbonization targets.

Finally, the list is substantively composed of large public companies, of which 40% are in Europe, 30% are in the US, 15% in Japan, c5% in both Australia and Canada. Clearly if you are a large public company, operating in these geographies, then investors are increasingly going to start ‘marking you down’ if you do not have clear decarbonization targets. On the other hand, private companies and emerging world companies are vastly under-represented in this data-file, which will re-awaken old fears over industrial leakage, and re-iterates the need for practical and economic decarbonization.

In the spirit of open source data, our clean-up of the database is free to download, in case it is useful for you, or helps inform your own company’s decarbonization targets.

Glass fiber: screen of leading companies?

This data-file aims to provide an overview of the world’s largest glass fiber manufacturers, quantifying company size, production volumes (in kTpa), proportionate exposure to the theme (% of revenues), plant locations, employee counts and patent filings. Summary notes are also provided for each company.

The industry is opaque, so our analysis has simply aimed to triangulate between publicly available data-sources and make informed estimates.

Three of the largest five companies in the industry are now based in China, but increasingly expanding internationally.

Copyright: Thunder Said Energy, 2022.