Lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles: what challenges?

This data-file tabulates the greatest challenges for lithium ion batteries in electric vehicles, which have been cited in 2020’s patent literature. Specifically, the work contains a sample of 100 patents aiming to overcome these challenges, as filed by companies including Tesla, CATL, GM, GS Yuasa, LG, Nissan, Panasonic, Sanyo, Sumitomo, Toyota, et al.

Our notes and conclusions are spelled out in detail. We find the industry is clearly entering execution mode, and less focused on radical breakthroughs in energy density. CATL and Tesla’s pursuit of a “million mile battery” is substantiated, but includes trade-offs. The patent disclosures also suggest great difficulties in ever achieving a battery-powered semi-truck.

Exhaust gas recirculation in gas power: the economics?

This data-file explores an alternative design for a combined cycle gas turbine, re-circulating exhaust gases (including CO2) after the combustion stage, back into the turbine’s compressor and combustion zones. The result is to increase the concentration of CO2 and thus improve the economics of carbon capture (chart below).

The data-file draws on costs data and operating parameters from several detailed technical papers, and model the economics. Even with EGR technology, it will still be challenging to decarbonize a conventional gas turbine for less than $100/ton (at which point blue hydrogen becomes competitive).

A short note is presented on the first tab, explaining the background, the theory and our main conclusions. You can stress-test the numbers and input assumptions in the model.

Carbon offsets: costs and leading companies?

This data-file tabulates the costs of carbon offsets being offered to consumers and commercial customers by c30 companies. Prices are surprisingly low, ranging from $4-40/ton of CO2.

Which projects are most economical? Costs are lowest at forestry projects, particularly at companies where you pay “per tree” rather than “per ton” of CO2. They are also lower at non-profits (which also means contributions are tax-deductible). Finally, they are lowest at companies undertaking projects directly, rather than as “middlemen” (charts below).

Are they CO2 offsets real? The also file contains detailed notes on each company, to assess their credentials. Moreover, it tabulates 1,600 carbon offset projects which are assured by agencies such as the ‘Verified Carbon Standard’, Gold Standard and Green-E, for a broader perspective.

Offset your own CO2? We have recently used the data-file to select and allocate our carbon offsetting dollars to Eden Reforestation, One Tree Planted, The Gold Standard and Sea Trees. We are happy to discuss CO2 offsetting with TSE clients and those using the data-file.

Capturing CO2 with the Amine process: the economics?

This data-file models the economics of capturing CO2 from exhaust flues using the amine process, in order to calculate what CO2 price is necessary to earn a passable IRR. This is one of three components of a CCS project, alongside CO2 transport and CO2 sequestration.

Input assumptions can be flexed in cells H5:35 of the model, in order to stress test the sensitivity to gas prices, energy efficiency, amine costs, water costs, capex, G&A and fiscal conditions. Our own base case estimates are informed by five tabs of cost data and technical papers.

CO2 costs are extremely sensitive to CO2 concentrations, rising exponentially if it is necessary to capture CO2 from more diffuse sources. The typical CO2 concentrations of different exhaust streams is tabulated in another of our data-files, here.


The great leveler: why CO2 prices are crucial?

Energy policies currently act as kingmakers for a select few transition technologies. But they offer no incentives for other, lower cost and more practical alternatives, which could economically decarbonize the whole world by 2050. Hence this 14-page note presents the top five arguments for a simple, transparent, economy-wide CO2 price. We also illustrate who would benefit versus which bubbles may burst.

Fiscal incentives for US decarbonization?

This data-file tabulates fiscal incentives that exist to abate CO2, across individual categories in the energy transition, based on current legislation in the United States.

In each case, we have calculated the implied cost to abate CO2,  under the various policies, as measured in dollars per ton ($/ton). Included in the file are Production Tax Credits, Blenders Tax Credits, Investment Tax Credits, Equipment Tax Credits and Section 45Q.

Our view is that the current system is overly-complex and arbitrary. It provides large incentives for specific technologies that happen to have policy support, and no incentives (or small incentives) for other technologies that could make a larger decarbonization impact at a much lower cost.

Organic Rankine Cycles: the energy economics?

This data-file captures the economics of an Organic Rankine Cycle engine to recover low-grade waste heat (at 70-200C) from an industrial facility, or in the geothermal industry. A CO2 price of $50-75/ton could greatly accelerate adoption and improve the efficiency of industrial facilities.

Our model draws on past project data and technical papers to estimate costs (in $/kW) and thermal efficiency levels (in %). This shows how economics vary with facility size (below) and how large an industrial facility needs to be to be able to install an Organic  Rankine Cycle heat recovery system.

Notes on the industry are also tabulated, including how the technology works, total market size, capacity and leading companies ranked by past project deliveries.

CO2 Storage: the top ten challenges in CCS?

This data-file tabulates the “top ten” challenges for geological storage of CO2, based on reviewing the technical literature. Ten issues stand out, and are explained, with reference to numbers and data-points (chart above).

There is c$8-30/ton of tail-risk for a CO2 storage operation (depending on risk levels), which may need to be considered when appraising projects.

This matters as CCS must step up from 40MTpa capacity today to billions of tons per annum in a fully decarbonized energy system. CO2 disposal is also crucial to new CO2 technologies such as CO2-EOR, oxy-combustion, carbonate fuel cells, metal organic frameworks and direct air capture.

Measuring and monitoring CO2 is one of the largest challenges, hence our data-file also summarized 25 technologies used for this purpose.

Finally, we contrast CCS to Nature Based Solutions.  For of the main challenge to nature based solutions also apply to CCS. Four risks also apply to each but not the other. This suggests a complementary balance of CCS and NBS will be needed.


Transporting green hydrogen as ammonia: the economics?

This data-file models the costs of converting green hydrogen into ammonia, transporting the ammonia in an LPG tanker, then converting then converting the ammonia back into hydrogen through ammonia cracking.

We model what hydrogen price is required, (in $/kg), to earn a 10% IRR on the investment, the energy intensity of the process (in kWH/kg) and the overally energy efficiency (in %), based on technical papers and recent guidance from Air Products (which aims to start up a 230kTpa project in 2025).

With some generous assumptions, a large-scale green hydrogen and ammonia value chain may be able to reach consumers in developed world countries at a cost of $10/kg, although this looks ambitious, and additional costs may be incurred or returns may be diluted.

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 October-2020, it contains 180 differentiated views on 90 public companies.