Power Trains? Electric, diesel or hydrogen

This data-file compares diesel trains, electric trains and hydrogen trains, according to their energy consumption, carbon emissions and fuel costs. The data are presented apples-to-apples, per passenger mile, based on worked examples. Seven train routes are compared on 20 metrics overall.

Travelling by train should be 2-15x more fuel-efficient, and 3-20x less carbon intensive than travelling by car.

Electric trains are most efficient and cost-effective. The drawback is that electrifying tracks can cost c$1.4M/km. Nevertheless, we are most positive on the electrification opportunity around railways, particularly using next-generation combustion technologies.

The world’s first hydrogen trains launched in Germany in September-2018. To be cost-competitive with entry-level diesel trains requires c$12/kg hydrogen, $6/gallon diesel and a $50/ton carbon price.

Relative costs and economics can be compared by varying inputs in the file.

 

Electric cars slow the energy transition?

Electric Cars are being overtaken by new electric vehicles, which achieve c3x greater decarbonisation per unit of battery material. This metric matters if one believes that battery materials are a limiting factor in the energy transition. To illustrate our case, our new Excel-file models two scenarios…

In the first scenario, 400kg of battery materials can be used to produce 1 electric vehicle, which displaces 1 gasoline taxi. The calculations show that 28 bbls of oil-equivalent energy and 12T of CO2 emissions are avoided each year.

In the second scenario, 400kg of battery materials can be used to produce 120 electric scooters, which displace 2.5 gasoline taxis. The calculations show that 96bbls of oil-equivalent energy and 37T of CO2 emissions are avoided. I.e., the scooters achieve 3x more decarbonisation than the electric car.

Moreover,  our numbers above only assume that one-in-three scooter trips displaces a car-trip, while the other two-in-three are deemed to be “new demand”. Per mile travelled, the scooters achieve 9x more decarbonisation than putting the same 400kg of battery materials into the electric car.

Please download the data-file to interrogate our assumptions and stress-test your own scenarios. We argue the “electric revolution” goes beyond replacing today’s ground cars with electric ground cars. The opportunities are in new vehicle types.

Energy Economics of e-Scooters

This data-file contains all our data on the energy economics of e-scooters, a transformational technology for urban mobility, where demand has exploded in 2018 and 2019. And for good reason. The data-file includes:

  • Our projections of the oil demand destroyed by scooters
  • Our projections of the electricity demand created by scooters
  • Number of US travel-trips using shared bikes and scooters from 2010-18
  • Scooter costs versus car and taxi costs per mile
  • Average ranges and battery sizes of incumbent scooter models
  • Relative energy economics of scooters versus gasoline cars and EVs
  • Relative time taken to charge scooters versus EVs using solar panels
  • The proportion of scooter trips that replace gasoline car trips in eight cities
  • Profiles of the top 4 e-scooter companies
  • A timeline of shared mobility from 1965 to 2018.

The download will also enable you to adjust the input assumptions, to test different scenarios.

Major technologies to decarbonise power?

Leading Oil Majors will play a crucial role in decarbonising the energy system. Their initiatives should therefore be encouraged by policy-makers and ESG investors, particularly where new energy technologies are being developed, which will unlock further economic opportunities to accelerate the transition.

In order to help identify the leading companies, this-data file summarises c90 patents for de-carbonising power-generation. It is drawn from our database of over 3,000 distinct patents filed by the largest energy companies in 2018. These technologies will secure the role of fossil fuels, particularly natural gas, in a decarbonising energy system.

De-carbonising carbon?

Decarbonisation is often taken to mean the end of fossil fuels. But it could become more feasible simply to de-carbonise fossil fuels. This 19-page note explores two top opportunities: next-generation combustion technologies, which can meet the world’s energy needs relatively seamlessly, with zero carbon and little incremental cost. They are ‘Oxy-Combustion’ using the Allam Cycle and Chemical Looping Combustion. Leading Oil Majors support these solutions to create value advancing the energy transition.

Alternative truck fuels: how economic?

This data-file compares different trucking fuels — diesel, CNG, LNG, LPG and Hydrogen — across 35 variables. Most important are the economics, which are fully modelled.

Natural Gas can be close to competitive. On an energy-equivalent basis, $3/mcf gas is 4x more economical than $3/gal diesel. However, the advantages are offset by higher vehicle costs, operational costs and logistical costs. Overall, CNG ends up 10% more expensive, and LNG ends up 30% more expensive versus diesel-trucking. Mild environmental positives of gas are also offset by mild operational challenges.

Hydrogen still screens as an expensive alternative. We estimate vehicle costs are 2x higher than diesel trucks, while $15/kg hydrogen is 4x more expensive than diesel as a fuel.

Oxy-combustion: economics of zero-carbon gas?

Oxy-combustion is a next-generation power technology, burning fossil fuels in an inert atmosphere of CO2 and oxygen. It is easy to sequester CO2 from its exhaust gases, helping heat and power to decarbonise. We argue that IRRs can compete with conventional gas-fired power plants.

This is our model of the economics. It is constructed from technical disclosures. For example, Occidental petroleum and McDermott have already invested in one of the technology-leaders, NET Power, which constructed a demonstration plant in LaPorte Texas, starting up in 2018.

Boeings and batteries?

We have applied the equations of flight to a Boeing 747. Fuel economy of 5-6 gallons per mile is calculated as a function of the plane’s mass, velocity, distance travelled and aerodynamics. Hence for a 10,000km journey, jet fuel makes up c30% of the take-off weight (which is more than all the passengers).

To fuel the same journey with battery-power would require the batteries to weigh 12x more than the entire plane, at batteries’ current energy density. The maximum range of a battery-powered 747 is currently around 90km.

With some heroic assumptions over the next 10-20 years, a battery-powered 747 could be extended to cover c1,000km. But overall, because of the long range, Trans-Atlantic air travel looks immune to electrification.

Download the model and you can see our calculation methodology, as well as testing your own inputs.

Hydrogen Cars: how economic?

We have modelled the relative economics of hydrogen cars fed by renewable energy and hydrolysis of water, to assess whether they can be cost-competitive.

In our base case US assumptions, hydrogen is c85% costlier than gasoline. In Europe, all in costs of hydrogen can match gasoline cars with c20% deflation across the board, free renewable energy and c$75/bbl oil inputs.

The model breaks out full-cycle costs as a function of: oil prices, oil taxes, power prices, renewable prices, hydrolysis costs, carbon costs,  vehicle costs and capital costs. Download the model and you can flex these variables.

 

Can Forests Offset CO2 Emissions?

This data-file assesses half-a-dozen Academic papers, to estimate the average rate of CO2 sequestration in forests, per acre per year.

This number is compared against CO2 emissions per acre per year, to see which countries can most effectively use forestry to offset their carbon emissions.

The world would need to devote an incremental 20% of its land area to new forests, to offset all of its annual carbon emissions, so we see more potential elsewhere.