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 February-2021, it contains 200 differentiated views on 100 public companies.

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.

Prevailing wind: new opportunities in grid volatility?

UK wind power has almost trebled since 2016. But its output is volatile, now varying between 0-50% of the total grid. Hence this 14-page note assesses the volatility, using granular, hour-by-hour data from 2020. EV charging and smart energy systems screen as the best new opportunities. Gas-fired backups also remain crucial to ensure grid stability. The outlook for grid-scale batteries has actually worsened. Finally, downside risks are quantified for future realized wind power prices.

Geothermal energy: what future in the transition?

Drilling wells and lifting fluids to the surface are core skills in the oil and gas industry. Hence could geothermal be a natural fit in the energy transition? This 17-page note finds next-generation geothermal economics can be very competitive, both for power and heat. Pilot projects are accelerating and new companies are forming. But the greatest challenge is execution, which may give a natural advantage to incumbent oil and gas companies.

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.

Biomass and BECCS: what future in the transition?

20% of Europe’s renewable electricity currently comes from biomass, mainly wood pellets, burned in facilities such as Drax’s 2.6GW Yorkshire plant. But what are the economics and prospects for biomass power as the energy transition evolves? This 18-page analysis leaves us cautious.

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.

Solar power: what challenges?

Solar panel costs have been deflating at a rate of c20% per annum as the industry scales up into manufacturing mode. The IEA recently stated solar could thus provide the “cheapest electricity in history”.

What next?  To answer this question, we reviewed 70 patents filed by leading solar manufacturers in 2020, in order to see what challenges they are aiming to resolve. We expect deflation to continue apace, while panels will also gain greater efficiency and longevity.

This data-file explains the conclusions, summarizing the findings  from the patents and giving specific examples of gains in the offing.

Specific companies’ focuses can also be seen from the patents. Covered companies include Canadian Solar, Hanergy, Jinko, LG, Miasole, Panasonic, SunPower et  al.

Electrolysers: how much deflation ahead for hydrogen?

For green hydrogen to become competitive, total electrolyser costs must deflate by over 75% from current levels around $1,000/kW. This 14-page note breaks down the numbers and the challenges, based on patents and technical papers. We argue 15-25% total cost deflation may be more realistic if manufacturers also strive to make a margin in the future.

High voltage direct current power transmission: the economics?

This model captures the economics of transporting electricity (especially from renewable sources, such as wind and solar), over vast distances, using high voltage direct current power cables (HVDC).

Our numbers are based on technical papers, a dozen past projects and a granular bottom-up breakdown of costs (both capex and opex). Our notes from technical papers follow in the final tab as context.

Our base case estimate is that a 10c/kWh transportation spread is required to earn a 10% levered IRR on 1,000-mile cable. Please download the data-file to stress test power costs, power prices,  capex, opex, line losses, leverage levels and fiscal impacts.