Energy transition technologies: the pace of progress?

This data-file aggregates 20 different TSE patent screens, to assess the pace of progress in different energy technologies. Our short, 3-page summary note on the findings is linked here.

Lithium batteries are most actively researched, with 8,300 patents filed in 2019 ex-China. Autonomous vehicles and additive manufacturing technologies are accelerating fastest, with 10-year patent filing CAGRs of 22% and 53% respectively.

Wind and solar remain heavily researched, but the technologies are maturing, with patent activity -36% and -76% from peak, respectively. The steepest deceleration of interest has been in fuel cells and biofuels, declining at -10% pa and -7% since 2009.

It remains interesting to compare the pace of progress within sub-industries; for example, more supercapacitor patents were filed in 2019 than nuclear patents; while hydraulic fracturing patents remain the most intense focus area within conventional oil and gas.

One hundred years of innovation: global patent filings from 1920?

This data-file breaks down the number of patents that have been filed globally since 1920, across 150 different categories, to illustrate the pace of technological progress, across each industrial sub-segment.

The data are also sub-divided by geography, across the US, China and Japan, which are contrasted in c30 charts. Depressingly, the US’s share of global patent filings has recently declined back toward all time lows, while a vast acceleration has seen China filing 70% of all global patents.

China’s lead is also widening in 135 out of 150 patent categories in our data-set. This may suggest trade tensions are on course to accelerate further. It also holds implications for policymakers, as Western decarbonization must be balanced with industrial competitiveness.

Electric vehicle charging: what challenges?

This data-file tabulates the greatest challenges for charging electric vehicles, based on the recent patent literature, looking across fifty patents filed by leading companies.

Our top three conclusions are that EV charging will require complex algorithms to ensure grid stability, creating an opportunity for big data companies; vehicle-manufacturers are concerned about balancing the convenience of EV charging with the investment costs of charging networks; while interestingly, increasing speed of charging is not a primary focus.

Our conclusions are typed up in the data-file, plus the full back-up of patents from large OEMs, EV-charging specialists, capital goods companies that make components and tech giants, working on optimization algorithms.

The Top 30 Private Companies for an Energy Transition

This data-file presents the ‘top 30’ 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.

Ground source heat pumps: the economics?

This data-file models the economics, costs, energy savings and potential CO2 savings of a ground source heat pump (GHP), compared to traditional home heating and cooling options.

A GHP approximately doubles the efficiency of conventional heating and cooling, through heat-exchange with the shallow earth, 30ft below the surface, which tends to remain at 10-15°C temperatures year-round.

The model can be stress-tested, flexing annual heating/cooling demands, coefficients of performance, as well as oil, gas, power and CO2 prices. Also included are a granular cost build-up for CHPs and our notes.

Geothermal power: the economics?

This data-file captures the economics of geothermal heat and power, built up as a function of drilling costs, pumping costs and power-cycle costs.

Our base case numbers are calculated both for geothermal hotspots and for the exciting, next-generation technology of deep geothermal power. You can stress test input assumptions in cells H6:H25 of each model.

Further industry data follow in the subsequent half-dozen tabs, including a breakdown of capacity by country and by supplier, patent filings, leading companies and our notes from technical papers.

Smart Energy: technology leaders?

Smart meters and smart devices are capable of transmitting and receiving real-time data and instructions. They open up new ways of optimizing energy efficiency, peak demand, appliances and costs. Over 100M smart meters and thermostats had been installed in the United States (including at c90M residences) and 250M have been installed in Europe by 2020.

The purpose of this data-file is to profile c30 companies commercializing opportunities in smart energy monitoring, smart metering and smart thermostats. The majority of the companies are privately owned, at the venture or growth stage. We also tabulate their patent filings.

We find most of the offerings will lower end demand, assist with smoothing grid-volatility, provide appliance-by-appliance demand disaggregations and encourage consumers to upgrade inefficient or potentially even defective appliances. Numbers are tabulated in the data-file to quantify each of these effects.

US shale: the economics?

This data-model breaks down the economics of US shale, in order to calculate NPVs, IRRs and oil price break-evens of future drilling in major US basins (predominantly the Permian, but also Bakken and Eagle Ford).

Our base case conclusion is that a $40/bbl oil price is required for a 10% IRR on a $7.0M shale well with 1.0 kboed of IP30 production. Break-evens mostly vary within a range of $35-50/bbl. They are most sensitive to productivity, which can genuinely unlock triple-digit IRRs, even at $40/bbl.

Underlying the analysis is a granular model of capex costs, broken down across 18 components (chart below). Costs are calculated off of input variables such as rig rates, frac crew costs, diesel prices, sand prices, tubular steel prices, cement prices and other more niche services.

Stress-testing the model. You can flex input assumptions in the ‘NPV’ and ‘CostBuildUp’ tabs of the model, in order to assess economic consequences.


Biomass power and BECCS: the economics?

This data-file captures the economics of producing wood pellets, generating electricity from wood pellets or other biomass, and building a further carbon capture and storage facility to yield ‘carbon negative power’.

The data-file is substantiated by detailed industry on solid biomass fuels, historical capex costs from prior projects and detailed notes from half-a-dozen technical papers.

Data are also aggregated on the generation and efficiency of c340 woody-biomass power plants constructed to-date in the United States.