Carbon Offset Costs?

This data-file tabulates the costs of carbon offsets that are being offered to consumers and commercial customers, by 17 companies. Offered carbon offset costs are surprisingly low.

Are they real? The file also tabulates 1,600 carbon offset projects which are assured by agencies such as the ‘Verified Carbon Standard’, Gold Standard and Green-E. This helps lend credibility to the companies in the data-file.

However, we estimate only c10-20% of the projects directly offset CO2 through planting new forests, another c15-30% are spent on forest conservation, and the remaining 50-70% are broader (i.e., charitable donations to finance renewable energy projects).

Variable Power Tariffs Exacerbate Social Inequalities?

This data-file tabulates the impacts of variable electricity tariffs, after switching 4.622 households over from fixed electricity tariffs, across a large-scale sample in the United States. This theme is increasingly important as intermittent renewables reach saturation in developed world power grids.

Residential electricity demand is inelastic, with a 20% price-increase yielding a mere 1% reduction in end-demand. Peakload demand fell by 4%.

However, socially “vulnerable” consumers suffered disproportionately, only achieving a 2% decrease in peakload demand. Hence, while monthly power prices rose by 18% for non-vulnerable consumers, they rose by 22% for vulnerable consumers. The results, data and study are in the data-file.

Ten Themes for Energy in 2020

Energy transition is maturing as an investment theme. ‘Obvious’ portfolio tilts are beginning to look over-crowded. Non-obvious ones are looking over-looked. This note outlines the ‘top ten’ themes that excite us most in 2020, among commodities, drivers of the energy transition, market perceptions and corporate strategies.

Will renewable growth slow down from 2020?

The growth of renewables has been revolutionary, with wind and solar costs emerging towards the bottom of the global cost curve, scaling up at a pace of 270TWH pa. However, we find unsettling evidence that the market could slow by c15% from 2020, plateauing in heartland markets such as California, Germany and the UK. The rationale, and all the underlying data, are included in this PDF research report and associated Excel file.

Heliogen: concentrated solar breakthrough?

Heliogen has set a new record for concentrated solar power in November 2019, generating >1,000C temperatures from an array of c370 hexagonal mirrors, which are precisely controlled using computer vision. This is almost 2x traditional CSP plants which achieve c560C temperatures.

We have reviewed 21 patents from Heliogen’s predecessor company, eSolar, in order to understand its IP. Not only can it control heliostats more precisely than prior companies, but this allows the heliostats to be down-sized, conferring material cost-savings.

This data-file summarizes the technology, the patents, the costs (in c/kWh and $/mcfe) and the opportunity to decarbonise industrial heat and power generation.

Portfolio Construction for Energy Majors?

This data-model calculates risk-adjusted returns available for different portfolio weightings in the energy sector, as companies diversify across upstream, downstream, chemicals, corporate, renewables and CCS investments. The methodology is a mean-variance optimisation based on modern portfolio theory.

Should Oil Majors become Renewable Energy Majors? Our model indicates returns would decrease by allocating more capital to renewables, but certain renewable allocations can nevertheless increase risk-adjusted returns, as quantified using Sharpe Ratios.

Please download the model to test the impacts of flexing portfolio weightings; either at our own risks, returns and diversification benefits; or under your own assumptions which can be tweaked in the model.

Hybrid horizons: industrial use of batteries?

Gas and diesel engines can be particularly inefficient when idling, or running at 20-30% loads. At these levels, their fuel economy can be impaired by 30-80%. This is the rationale for hybridizing engines with backup batteries: the engines are always run at efficient, 80-100% loads, including to charge up the batteries, which can better cover lower intensity energy needs.

Hybrid passenger cars are the best known example, since Toyota re-introduced them in the late 1990s. c25-30% energy savings are achieved, including through engine down-sizing and regenerative breaking

Industrial applications are also increasingly taking hold as battery costs come down, achieving even higher, 30-65% energy savings. This data-file summarizes a dozen examples, from oil and gas, marine, construction and even the machinery at LNG plants.

Solar Use within the Oil Industry?

This data-file tabulates 20 solar projects being undertaken within the oil industry, in order to clean up production and reduce emissions. More projects are needed, as the total inventory will obviate <1% of oil industry CO2 by 2025.

For each project, we estimate total TWH of power generation per annum, the CO2 emissions avoided, the timeline; and we also summarize the project details.

Leading examples include the use of concentrated solar for steam-EOR in Oman and California, Solar PV in the Permian, and leading efforts from specific companies: such as Occidental, Shell, Eni and other Majors.

Development Concepts: how much CO2?

This data-file quantifies the costs and CO2 emissions associated with different oilfield development concepts’ construction materials.

We have tabulated c25 projects, breaking down the total tonnage of steel and concrete used in their topsides, jackets, hulls, wells, SURF and pipelines.  Included are the world’s largest FPSOs, platforms and floating structures; as well as new resources in shale, deepwater-GoM, Guyana, pre-salt Brazil and offshore Norway.

Infill wells, tiebacks and FPSOs make the most efficient use of construction materials per barrel of production. Fixed leg platforms are higher, then gravity based structures, then FLNG, and finally offshore wind (by a factor of 30x).

 

Shipping in batteries: the economics?

What if it were possible to displace diesel from high-cost, high-carbon “island” electricity grids, by charging up large batteries with gas- and renewable power, then shipping the batteries?

This model assesses the relative economics and relative CO2 emissions of such a possibility. The model is sensitive to oil prices, battery prices, hurdle rates and alternative power prices.

Economics should improve as battery prices fall. But costs are already competitive for several island grids, while CO2 intensity can be halved. Our numbers have been informed by disclosures from Gridspan Energy, a leading company in this space.