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 July-2020, it contains 167 differentiated views on 87 public companies.

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.

The Top Technologies in Energy

What are the top technologies to transform the global energy industry and the world? This data-file summarises where we have conducted differentiated analysis, across c80 technologies (and counting).

For each technology, we summarise the opportunity in two-lines. Then we score its economic impact, its technical maturity (TRL), and the depth of our work to-date. The output is a ranking of the top technologies, by category; and a “cost curve” for the total costs to decarbonise global energy.

Download this data-file and you will also receive updates for a year, as we add more technologies; and we will also be happy to dig into any technologies you would like to see added to the list.

Coal-to-gas switching: the economics?

Switching coal- to gas-fired power generation is the single largest line-item in our models taking the energy system to net zero emissions and keeping atmospheric CO2 to below 450ppm. This model illustrates the economics.

Mathematically, the analysis works by deducting a model of a new coal-fired power plant from a model of a new gas-fired power plant, so you can easily stress-test the relative impacts of different coal prices, gas prices, CO2 prices, capex costs and efficiency factors.

CO2 prices accelerate coal-to-gas switching, under our base case, long-term pricing assumptions. For brownfield plants, which are already standing, a $10/ton CO2 price is required in the US, c$25/ton in Europe and c$40/ton in Emerging Markets. For greenfield plants, the US and Europe are already set to switch from coal to gas, due to relative capex costs, but in the emerging world, again a c$40/ton CO2 price is required.

Leading Companies in Pipeline Gas Distribution?

This data-file tracks over 800 ex-China patents for the pipeline transportation of natural gas, filed from 2010 to 2019. The aim is to screen for exciting technologies and companies, as natural gas demand is set to treble in the most economic route to an energy transition.

Innovative growth companies with a focus on pipeline gas transport include 3 publicly listed firms and 6 venture-stage start-ups. They are commercialising next-generation materials, leak monitoring and remote metering solutions.

Larger and listed companies with recent innovations in gas distribution include Air Products, Kogas, Tokyo Gas, Shawcor and Ecolab.

Decarbonize Heat?

Natural gas currently fuels two-thirds of residential and commercial heating, which in turn comprises c10% of global CO2. We have assessed ten technologies to decarbonize heat, including heat pumps, renewables, biogas and hydrogen. The lowest cost and most practical solution is to double down on natural gas, alongside nature-based carbon offsets. Global gas demand for heating should continue rising by 3bcfd per year.

District heating: the economics?

District heating supplies residential or commercial consumers with centrally generated heat, waste heat from power generation (combined heat and power) or from other industrial processes. Capturing waste heat lowers CO2-intensity.

This data-file models generalized economics, based on the capital costs to pipe heat to each household, gas prices, heat consumption and efficiency factors. You can flex these variables in the model.

The economics are highly variable, with prior project costs varying by a factor of 10x, and most sensitive to heat consumption per household. Our base case estimate is for a 10% IRR at 10c/kWh retail heating price.

Biogas: the economics?

Biogas screens as a relatively expensive source of energy. Our project model requires $20/mcfe gas, a $50/ton CO2 price and a $50/ton tipping fee, in order to make a 10% unlevered return on a $430/Tpa plant.

The economics are most sensitive to tipping fees, which are often imposed by regulators, to incentivize biogas projects at more competitive gas and power prices: an expensive tax on consumers, but a kingmaker for biogas projects. Without tipping fees, it would require c$1,500/ton CO2 prices before biogas was cost-competitive.

The aim of our model is to simplify the economics of an anaerobic digestion plant, producing biogas from food and agricultural waste that would otherwise have ended up in landfill. Assumptions can be flexed in rows 5-35. Explanatory notes around costs and economics are provided in the ‘Notes’ tab.

The route to net zero: an energy-climate model for 2-degrees

We have modeled the global climate system from 1750-2065, to simplify the climate-science of the energy transition into an easily understandable format.

‘Net zero’ is achievable by 2050, with atmospheric CO2 remaining below 450ppm, the level consistent with 2-degrees C of warming.

Fossil fuel use is 10% higher than today, but the industry has transformed itself, towards the most efficient, lowest-carbon fossil fuels (especially natural  gas), with the remaining CO2 captured or offset. This is the most economical  route to an energy transition, per all of our research.

Please download the model to stress-test your own input assumptions. Notes from Academic papers follow in the ‘Sources’ tab, drawn largely from the IPCC, to explain the ocean, soil and plant fluxes in our model.

Financial and CO2 Costs of Heaters, Boilers and Heat Pumps

This data-file models the costs and CO2 intensities of four different heating solutions: oil-fired furnaces, gas boilers, electric heaters and electrically-powered heat pumps.

Gas-fired boilers are most justified in gaining future market share, based on our cost data, even after paying $50/ton for CO2 offsets, to decarbonize the gas. Heat pumps are most efficient.

To compare and contrast the different solutions, you can vary oil prices, gas prices and power prices in the data-file.

Costs and efficiencies of the boilers and heat pumps are based on the specifications of products available online in 2020, which are also tabulated in the data-file.