Energy transition companies?

This database contains a record of every company that has ever been mentioned across Thunder Said Energy’s energy transition research, as a useful reference for TSE’s clients. The database summarizes over 3,000 mentions of 1,400 energy transition companies, their size, focus and a summary of our key conclusions, plus links to further research.

Our research library has become quite large, with over 1,300 research notes, data-files and models in the TSE research portal, since we started Thunder Said Energy in 2019. Hence the purpose of this data-file, which is only available to TSE’s full subscription clients, is to summarize all of the mentions of all of the companies, across all of our work.

For example, if a decision-maker is looking for information about ABC-Industries, and its linkage with energy transition, then a summary of key observations about ABC-Industries will be noted on the LongList tab, and all of the underlying mentions of ABC-Industries across different research notes can be filtered on the ‘Mentions’ tab, including links. Our methodology is described in the recent research note here.

Having a long list of energy transition companies, in a single database, also enables some interesting analytics, into the Very Hungry Caterpillar of companies in the world’s fast-evolving global energy and industrial landscape, amidst the transition to net zero.

The geographies that are most represented in our database of energy transition companies include the US (over 500 companies, 38% of the companies, 36% of the mentions), Europe (420 companies, 30%, 36%), China (115, 8%, 8%), Canada (95, 7%, 7%), Japan (70, 5%, 5%), Australia (36, 3%, 2%), Korea (35, 3%, 2%). And counting.

Zooming in a little further, there are 250 companies that have come up repeatedly in TSE research, or where we have conducted more in-depth work, across 8 sectors and 50 sub-sectors. 50 were CleanTech companies, of which 75% tended to private, and the remaining 25% were small-cap or mid-cap companies (chart below).

Other segments. 70 are capital goods companies, 30 are materials companies, and other heavily discussed industries in our research are energy, mining and semiconductors, ranging from small-privates to mega-cap giants.

Zooming in even further, there are 50 companies that have come up at least 5 times in TSE’s thematic research, which is focused on opportunities, themes and bottlenecks in the world’s transition towards net zero. These warrant a closer look.

For example, In 2021-22, we became obsessed with the idea that power electronic switchgear would increasingly be needed to help electricity scale up from 40% to 60% of the world’s energy system by 2050, save energy – from variable frequency drives to power factor management – and to accommodate more volatility in renewable-heavy grids. Thus the company we wrote most about in 2021-22 was Eaton. Which subsequently doubled.

Hence we have started a new quarterly series of research reports and updates to this database, simply noting the companies that have featured most prevalently in our research over the trailing several months, and since the inception of TSE, as a useful summary for decision-makers who have not necessarily been able to read 100% of our output, and may wish to dig deeper into these companies as part of their own processes. The latest instalment covers our energy transition conclusions in 1Q24.

The data-file is exclusively available to TSE subscription clients. Any purchases of the data-file will be automatically converted into a TSE full subscription. And we will continue updating the database over time.

Market concentration by industry in the energy transition?

Market concentration by industry

What is the market concentration by industry in energy, mining, materials, semiconductors, capital goods and other sectors that matter in the energy transition? The top five firms tend to control 45% of their respective markets, yielding a ‘Herfindahl Hirschman Index’ (HHI) of 700.

This data-file compiles market concentration data across 30 company screens that we have built to-date, across our energy transition research. Specifically, we know the market share of different companies based on these screens.

A useful rule of thumb across the data-set is that the top five firms tend to control 45% of their respective markets, ranging from 20% in the least concentrated industries to 100% in the most concentrated.

The average ‘Herfindahl Hirschman Index (HHI) of energy, materials and manufacturing sectors is 700, varying from 200 in the least concentrated industries to 4,000 in the most concentrated ones.

Does market concentration determine profitability? 50% correlations are found between concentration and operating margins over the cycle within these industries.

Energy sectors covered in the database of market concentration by industry include global LNG, US E&P, US refining, Western coal, LNG shipping. Mining sectors covered include aluminium, copper, cobalt, lithium, nickel, uranium, silica and silver.

Market concentration by industry
Correlation between market concentration and operating margins in energy and mining

Materials and manufacturing sectors covered in the data-file include ASUs, autos, battery binders, carbon fiber, gas turbines, glass fiber, hydrogen, methanol, mining equipment, polyurethanes, vacuum pumps, VFDs, wind turbines, and different grades of semiconductors.

Market concentration by industry
Correlation between market concentration and operating margins in materials, manufacturing and semiconductors

Energy and mining are less concentrated than materials, capital goods and semi-conductors, in-line with the idea they are ‘commodities’.  

The data-file also covers market size, which itself correlates both with market concentrations and profitability structures. Although we also maintain a larger database for market sizing in the energy transition.

Market concentration matters for decision makers in the energy transition. Hence we have written a research report spelling out seven useful rules of thumb that are based on this data-file. We will continue expanding the data-file over time for TSE clients.

Biofuel technologies: an overview?

Biofuel technologies overview

This data-file provides an overview of the 3.5Mbpd global biofuels industry, across its main components: corn ethanol, sugarcane ethanol, vegetable oils, palm oil, waste oils (renewable diesel), cellulosic biomass, algal biofuels, biogas and landfill gas.

For each biofuel technology, we describe the production process, advantages and drawbacks; plus we quantify the market size, typical costs, CO2 intensities and yields per acre.

While biofuels can be lower carbon than fossil fuels, they are not zero-carbon, hence continued progress is needed to improve both their economics and their process-efficiencies.

Our long-term estimate is that the total biofuels market could reach 20Mboed (chart below), however this would require another 100M acres of land and oil prices would need to rise to $125/bbl to justify this switch.

The data-file also contains an overview of sustainable aviation fuels, summarizing the opportunity set, then estimating the costs and CO2 intensities of different options.

Vehicles: energy transition conclusions?

Vehicles energy transition research

Vehicles transport people and freight around the world, explaining 70% of global oil demand, 30% of global energy use, 20% of global CO2e emissions. This overview summarizes all of our research into vehicles, and key conclusions for the energy transition.

Electrification is a revolution for small vehicles, a mega-trend of the 21st century. We also believe that large and long-range transportation will remain predominantly combustion-fueled due to unrivalled energy density and practicality. It is most cost-effectively decarbonized via promoting efficiency gains, lower-carbon fuels and CO2 removals.

(1) Electrification is a game changer for light-vehicles, with 3-5x greater fuel economy than combustion vehicles (database here), due to inexorable thermodynamic differences between electric motors and heat engines (overview note here).

(2) Electric vehicle technology continues to improve, in an early innings, with multi-decade running room, which makes it an interesting area for decision makers to explore. We have profiled axial flux motors, which promise 2-3x higher power densities, even versus Tesla’s world-leading PMSRMs while surpassing 96% efficiencies (note here). And SiC power electronics that unlock faster and more efficient switching in the power MOSFETs underlying EV traction inverters.

(3) New and world-changing vehicle types will also be unlocked by electric motors’ greater compactness, simplicity and controllability. e-mobility provides an example with the lowest energy costs per passenger on our chart above. Albeit futuristic, we have also written on opportunities in aerial vehicles, drones and droids, robotics, airships, military technologies, inspection technologies.

(4) EV Charging. Each 1,000 EVs will ultimately require 40 Level 2 (30-40kW) and 3.5 Level 3 (100+ kW) chargers (NREL estimates). But we wonder if EV charging infrastructures will ultimately get overbuilt (for reasons in our note here). Is there a moat in the patents of EV charging specialists, such as Chargepoint? Or Nio? As a result, we are particularly excited by the shovel-makers, the suppliers of materials and electronic components, that will feed into chargers, especially fast chargers. Granular costs of EV chargers are modelled here, and can be compared with the 17c/gallon net margins of conventional fuel retail stations here. An amazing statistic is that a conventional fuel pump dispenses 100x more fuel per minute than a 150kW fast-charger, and we wonder if fast-chargers will stoke demand for CHPs (note here).

(5) Large vehicles that cover large distances face different constraints. For example, once the battery in a heavy truck surpasses 8 tons, yielding c50% of the range of a diesel truck, then additional battery weight starts eating into cargo capacity (data here). And the range of a purely battery powered plane is currently around 90km (data here).

(5a) For trucks, an excellent data-file comparing diesel, LNG, CNG, LPG and H2 fuelling is here. There may be some niche deployments of electric trucks and hydrogen trucks. But we think the majority of long distance, inter-continental trucking will remain powered by liquid fuels, i.e., oil products. Although they may improve efficiency by hybridizing (energy saving data here), including using super-capacitors (note here).

(6) Economies of scale. Larger vessels, which carry more passengers and more freight are inherently more energy efficient. This is visible in the title chart. And we have modelled the economics of container ships, bulk carriers, LNG shipping, commercial aviation, mine trucks, electric railways, pipelines and other offshore vessels.

(7) Light-weighting also improves fuel economy, as energy consumption is a linear function of mass, and replacing 10% of a vehicle’s steel with carbon fiber can improve fuel economy by 16% (vehicle masses are built up here). Polymers research here. This can be compared with typical vehicle manufacturing costs.

(8) Automating vehicles can also make them 15-35% more efficient (note here), although we also wonder whether the improved convenience would also result in more demand for long-distance road travel…

(9) Changing demand patterns? Autos are c95% of <500-mile trips today, planes are c90% of >1,000-mile trips; while long distance travel is c50% leisure and visiting friends (data here). Travel demand correlates with income across all categories (data here). Travel speeds have also improved by over 100x since pre-industrial times (excellent data here, breaking down travel by purpose, vehicle and demographics). We estimate the distribution chain for the typical US consumer costs 1.5bbls of fuel, 600kg of CO2 and $1,000 per annum, across container ships, railways, trucks, delivery vans and cars (data here). But displacing travel demand delivers the deepest reductions of all, in the energy intensity of transportation. Thus we would also consider remote work (note here), digitization (category here), traffic optimization and recycling (here) together with vehicle efficiency technologies. They are all related. But as always, there are good debates to be had about future energy demand and fears over Jevons Paradox.

(10) Hydrogen vehicles. Despite looking for opportunities in hydrogen vehicles and e-fuels, we think there may be more exciting decarbonization opportunities elsewhere: due to higher costs, high energy penalties and challenging practicalities. This follows notes into hydrogen trucks; and data-files into Goldilocks-like fuel cells and hydrogen fuelling stations. A summary of all of our hydrogen research is linked here.

The data-file linked below summarizes all of our research to-date into vehicles, which follows below in chronological order. Note that we have generally shown energy use on a wagon-to-wheel basis and assume 2.0 passengers per passenger vehicle. You can stress test all of the different inputs ($/gal fuel, c/kWh electricity, $/kg hydrogen) in the data-file. Other excellent comparison files are here (EVs vs ICEs, ICEs vs H2 vehicles, diesel vs LNG vs H2 trucks). We have also published similar overviews for our research into batteries, electrification, battery metals and other important materials in the energy transition.

Carbon capture and storage: research conclusions?

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) prevents CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Options include the amine process, blue hydrogen, novel combustion technologies and cutting edge sorbents and membranes. Total CCS costs range from $80-130/ton, while blue value chains seem to be accelerating rapidly in the US. This article summarizes the top conclusions from our carbon capture and storage research.

What is carbon capture and storage? CO2 is a greenhouse gas. But it is also an inevitable product of many energy-releasing reactions, from biology, to materials, to industrial energy, because of the high enthalpy of the C=O bond, at 1,072 kJ/mol. Carbon capture and storage technologies therefore aim to capture unavoidable CO2, purify it, transport it, and sequester it, to prevent it from contributing to climate change.

What are the costs of carbon capture and storage? 10-20% of all decarbonization in our roadmap to net zero will come from CCS, with the limit set by economic costs, ranging from $80-130/ton on today’s technologies, which is towards the upper end of what is affordable. Costs vary by CO2 concentration, by industry, by process unit, but will hopefully be deflated by emerging technologies.

Amines are the incumbent technology among 40MTpa of past carbon capture and storage projects, bubbling CO2-containing exhaust gases through an absorber column of lean amines, which react with CO2 to form rich amines. The CO2 can later be re-released and concentrated by steam-treating the amines in a regenerator. Base case costs are $40-50/ton to absorb the CO2 (model here). Energy costs range from 2.5-3.7GJ/ton. Energy penalties are 15-45% (note here). But a possible operational show-stopper is the emissions of amines and toxic degradation products (note here), with MEA breaking down at 1.75 kg/ton into a nasty soup (data here). Avoiding amine degradation is crucial and usually requires treatment of exhaust gases, to remove dusts, SO2, NOXs, a post-wash and limits on the ramp rates of power plants. This all adds costs.

Leading amines for CCS, which have been de-risked by use in multiple world-scale projects are MHI KS-1/KS-21 and Shell CANSOLV. We have also screened novel amines developed by Aker Carbon Capture (JustCatch), Advantage Energy (Entropy) and Carbon Clean. And alternatives to amines such as potassium carbonates. In our view, this space holds exciting potential, although decision-makers should consider the correct baselines, hidden costs and technology risks.

Blue hydrogen is an alternative to post-combustion CCS, directly converting the methane molecule (CH4) into relatively pure streams of H2, as an energy carrier or feedstock, and CO2 as a waste product for disposal. The two gases are separated via swing adsorption. The technology is mature, there are no issues with toxic emissions, and the world already produces 110MTpa of grey hydrogen, including 10MTpa in the US (data here), mostly via SMRs, emitting 9 tons of CO2 per ton of H2. 60% of the CO2 from an SMR is highly concentrated, and can readily be captured. An adapted design, ATR, can capture over 90% of the CO2 and is also technically mature (note here). Our economic model for blue hydrogen is here. An ATR technology leader is Topsoe.

Blue materials. The US seems to be leading in CCS, over 500MTpa of projects could proceed in the next decade (note here), and 45Q reforms under the Inflation Reduction Act are already kickstarting a boom in blue value chains, from blue ammonia, to blue steel, to blue chemicals. This exciting theme is gathering momentum at a fast pace and could even disrupt global gas balances and LNG exports (note here).

Novel combustion technologies are also maturing rapidly, which may facilitate CCS without amines. NET Power has developed a breakthrough power generation technology, combusting natural gas and pure oxygen in an atmosphere of pure CO2. Thus the combustion products are a pure mix of CO2 and H2O. The CO2 can easily be sequestered, yielding CO2 intensity of 0.04-0.08 kg/kWh, 98-99% below the current US power grid. Costs are 6-8c/kWh (note here, model here). We have also explored similar concepts ranging from chemical looping combustion to molten carbonate fuel cells and solid oxide fuel cells.

Transporting CO2 usually costs $4/ton/100km in a pipeline (model here). But CO2 is a strange gas to compress (note here). CO2 pipelines run above 100-bar, where CO2 becomes super-critical and behaves more like a liquid (e.g., it can be pumped). CO2 can also be liquefied 80% more easily than other gases, for a cost of $15/ton, merely by pressurizing it above 5.2-bar then chilling to -40C (model here). This opens up the possibility of trucking small-scale CO2 for c$17/ton per 100-miles (note here, model here). Similarly, seaborne transport of CO2 costs $8/ton/1,000-miles (model here), and this also opens up a possibility for the LNG industry to ship LNG out, CO2 back (note here). Ships could also capture their own CO2 with onboard CCS for $100/ton (note here).

CO2 disposal requires injecting CO2 into disposal wells at 60-120 bar of pressure. Our base case cost is $20/ton, but can vary from $5-50/ton (model here) and there can be risks (data here). CO2-EOR can re-coup costs of sequestration with an oil price around $50/bbl (note here, model here) and in the past we had hoped this would also drive a subsequent wave of low-carbon production via shale-EOR (note here).

CO2 utilization aims to make valuable use of the CO2 molecules rather than simply pumping them into the ground. Enhancing the concentration of CO2 in greenhouses can improve agricultural yields by c30% (note here). Some chemical pathways use CO2 directly, making methanol, formaldehyde and polyurethanes. The CO2 molecule can also be electrolysed to produce other feedstocks, but costs are c$800/ton (model here). CO2 utilization for curing cement industry is being explored by Solidia and CarbonCure. Other CO2 utilization companies are screened here. The challenge in all of these niches is scaling up to absorb GTpa-scale CO2 within MTpa-scale supply chains.

Direct air capture is a frontier for CCS that aims to absorb CO2, not from an exhaust gas with 4-40% concentration, but from the atmosphere, with 0.04% concentration. On the one hand, this is obviously more thermodynamically demanding, as dictated by the entropy of mixing, but on the other hand, the minimum theoretical energy for DAC is only 140kWh/ton, and the world has simply not invented a process yet that is more than 5-10% thermodynamically efficient. We have modeled solutions from Carbon Engineering at c$300/ton and from Climeworks at c$1,000/ton. Our DAC cost model is here.

Membranes. Next-generation membranes could separate 95% of the CO2 in a flue gas, into 95% pure permeate, for a cost of $20/ton and an energy penalty below 10%, which exceeds the best amines (note here). But today’s costs are higher, especially for pipeline grade CO2 at 99% purity (model here). A CCS membrane leader is MTR (screened here).

Metal organic frameworks are a novel class of materials with high porosity and exceptional tunability, which could become a CCS game-changer, but cannot yet be de-risked (note here). We have screened companies such as Svante in our work.

Cryogenics. The costs to separate the 20% oxygen fraction from air in a cryogenic air separation unit average $100/ton using 300kWh/ton of electricity (model here). If you have a concentrated CO2 stream (e.g., 10-40%) then cryogenics may be an option.

Some summary charts, workings and data-points from our carbon capture and storage research are aggregated in this data-file. All of our broader CCS research is summarized on our CCS category pages.

Superconductor screen: projects, materials, companies?

Yearly sales of superconductors by different companies and their exposure to superconductors. The market for superconducting cables is around $1bn per year.

This superconductor screen summarizes all of our work on superconductors, screening past projects, active companies, superconductor materials and the properties of commercial HTS tapes. Five listed companies in Europe, Japan and the US are particularly important for superconducting cable projects to relieve grid bottlenecks?

Superconductors are amazing materials that can carry 10,000 to 100,000x more current than copper wires and cables, per mm2 of conductor area. However, they are delicate ceramic crystals, which need to be deposited onto Hastelloy superalloys then inerted with an overlying layer of silver, and then plated in other protective materials such as copper. The resultant tapes tend to be 100μm thick (of which just 1-2% is superconductor material itself), yet still have current densities that are 350x higher than pure copper wires (charts below, data in the file).

YBCO is the leading superconductor material to come up in our superconductor screen. YBCO is an example of a REBCO. Other materials include BSCCO, and first generation superconductors such as Nb3Sn and NbTi which have historically been used in scientific machinery from MRIs, to NMRs to particle accelerators and the ITER nuclear fusion project, albeit requiring helium cooling.

Transition temperatures of different superconductors versus the year they were discovered.

Despite needing to cool YBCO with liquid nitrogen, it has been deployed commercially. 10 past projects tabulated in the file have carried an average of 300MVA of power at 50 kV and 3,000A over a distance of 1.7km. These projects and their costs are also tabulated in the superconductor screen, in $/kVA, $/km and $/kVA-km (materially more costly than today’s transmission lines, but sometimes competitive with today’s distribution lines). For more details see the projects tab.

Amperages and costs of superconducting distribution projects.

20 companies make up the c$1bn pa superconducting cables industry. Leading companies in superconductors have been highly active in the past projects tabulated above. They include listed companies in Europe, the US and Japan. Privately owned companies such as MetOx are also scaling up in the superconductors space. Details are in the screen, summarizing each company, its size and estimated exposure to superconductors.

Advanced Conductors versus ACSR: costs and companies?

Advanced Conductors have 2x higher amperage capacities and temperature limits than standard Aluminium Conductor Steel Reinforced (ACSR) used in AC transmission lines. This data-file screens Advanced Conductors versus ACSR on dimensions such as tensile strength, performance and costs, and also screens leading companies.

ACSR denotes Aluminium Conductors Steel Reinforced, which are the dominant conductor solution for overhead AC transmission lines in power grids. They comprise circular aluminium wires wrapped around structural steel cores, tied together at periodic intervals.

ACSRs are typically limited to 75ºC operating temperatures with tensile strength around 300MPa. Cross-sectional area determines current-carrying capacity of different conductors.

Advanced Conductors replace the central steel cores with composite materials, especially carbon fiber, and replace the circular aluminium conductors with trapezoidal ones. This confers 2x higher current carrying capacity, with lower resistance, higher temperature limits, higher strength and less risk of ‘sagging’ below minimum safety clearances.

Geometries of current conductors (left and middle) and advanced conductors (right). The construction is similar but advanced conductors use carbon fiber cores, making them lighter yet stronger.

The Conductors tab of the data-file tabulates the temperature limits, resistance, strength, current, simplified diagrams and descriptions for ASCRs, improved conductors and Advanced Conductors.

The Companies tab profiles leading producers of Advanced Conductors. Three private companies stand out and have been commercializing advanced conductors since the 2000s. The largest is CTC, whose ACCC solution has been used at 1,250 projects in over 60 countries

The Costs of advanced conductors are also estimated on a separate tab, in $/meter of conductor and $/kW-km of carrying capacity. Generally, Advanced Conductors are 2-6x more expensive than ACSR, but these costs are only a small portion of the total costs of an AC transmission line.

Further notes and charts are in backup tabs of the data-file comparing advanced conductors versus ACSR. Advanced conductors help to resolve grid bottlenecks per our recent research into advanced conductors.

US electric utilities: transmission and distribution costs?

This data-file evaluates transmission and distribution costs, averaging 7c/kWh in 2024, based on granular disclosures for 200 regulated US electric utilities, which sell 65% of the US’s total electricity to 110M residential and commercial customers. Costs have doubled since 2005. Which utilities have rising rate bases and efficiently low opex?

Regulated electrical utilities in the US are required to submit their capex, opex and SG&A costs to FERC via Form 1 filings. The data are used to determine acceptable utility charges, and also made freely available to the public, after a lag.

Costs of transmission and distribution utilities have doubled in the past 20-years, even in real terms, from 3.5 c/kWh in 2004-05 to 7c/kWh in 2024. Rising costs would seem to incentivize self-generating, especially amidst grid bottlenecks?

The largest reason for rising costs is rising transmission and distribution capex to accomodate renewables, trebling from 1c/kWh to 3c/kWh. Our numbers actually understate the costs charged to consumers, which will also include a statutory return on prior period capex, in addition to the direct costs that are tabulated in the file. This underscores a conclusion in our recent research: while renewables are a good, low-cost way of decarbonizing, they do add costs on a total system basis.

Over the past ten years, we estimate that 50% of utilities’ direct costs are capex and 50% are opex. The capex is 50% distribution, 35% transmission and 15% plant. The opex is 60% customer G&A, 25% T&D opex and c15% T&D maintenance.

Costs are -60% correlated with average power sales per customer, or in other words, customer type. Across the US, the average residential household uses 10MWH pa, the average commercial business uses 70MWH and the average industrial facility uses 2GWH. Costs approximately halve when average power use per customer doubles.

The largest US utilities, with 2-5M customers each and 80-120 TWH pa of electricity sales include PG&E, SCE, FPL, Oncor, ConEd, ComEd, Duke, Centerpoint, DTE. Capex costs range from 0.5-5 c/kWh and opex costs range from 1-10 c/kWh.

The ideal mix is high capex and low opex, as this indicates a well-run utility with a rising rate base and thus rising earnings potential? PSEG, SCE, ConEd, FPL perhaps stand out most on these metrics.

Regulated utilities are not really meant to have pricing power. But bottlenecks are biting, and we do wonder whether value inevitably trickles back to infrastructure owners and operators, in power grids and especially in gas pipelines.

The key drawback to the data that are tabulated in this file is their recency. FERC has released data from 1994-2019 in Excel format, utility by utility. The FERC website has data through 1H21 in dbf format. We will update this data-file if and when further data are made available by FERC.

Vapor deposition: leading companies?

Leading vapor deposition companies by their revenue in 2023 and exposure to the PVD/CVD market.

This data-file is a screen of leading companies in vapor deposition, manufacturing the key equipment for making PV silicon, solar, AI chips and LED lighting solutions. The market for vapor deposition equipment is worth $50bn pa and growing at 8% per year. Who stands out?

Vapor deposition uses 250-1,250ºC temperatures and vacuums as low as 1 millionth of an atmosphere, to deposit nm-μm thick layers of ultra-pure materials onto semiconductor and solar substrates, to make PV silicon, solar modules, computer chips, AI chips, LEDs, plus for hardened metals, cutting tools, insulated glass and aluminized food packaging.

We figured that we needed to compile this screen after reviewing LONGi‘s patents in early-2024. The technology underpinning HJTs and TOPCON modules is very clever, but it is clear from the patents, that it all relies upon vapor deposition. Hence who are the crucial shovel-makers here?

Half of the $50bn pa market is dominated by five public companies with 25-50% exposure to vapor deposition and c30% EBIT margins, based on our screen of leading companies in vapor deposition.

In overall Semiconductor Production equipment, the world leader is Applied Materials, which is based in the US, produces vapor deposition for the solar industry plus for the ‘angstrom era’ of chips, and has $170bn of market cap, more than Schlumberger, Baker Hughes and Halliburton combined.

In chemical vapor deposition for the semiconductor industry, a large Japanese company stood out, claiming 43% market share, and also the only integrated product suite covering the four sequential processes of deposition, coating/developing, etching and cleaning.

In the $700M niche of Metal Organic CVD, as used to make 70% of LEDs globally, but also for wide-bandgap semiconductors, such as SiC and GaN, the market leader is a publicly listed German specialist, with 70% market share.

In laser annealing, which can modify chemical properties over 10-100nm within nanoseconds, for making AI chips, a US-listed specialist stood out as a leader, and it also has a well-regarded ion beam deposition line, seen as a successor to PVD as it achieves larger and uniformly deposited grains.

Our experience as energy analysts has been that companies in the semiconductor supply chain are now just as relevant to the future of global energy as those in the subsea supply chain. Hence over time we will add to this screen of leading companies in vapor deposition.

Thermoelectrics: leading companies and products?

Thermoelectric devices convert heat directly into electricity, or conversely provide localized cooling/heating by absorbing electricity. This data-file screens leading companies in thermoelectrics, their product specifications, applications and underlying calculations for thermoelectric efficiency.

This data-file gives an overview of twenty leading companies in thermoelectrics, producing thermoelectric generators or other devices. Most of them are private with some larger names listed in the United States and Japan.

These companies manufacture thermoelectric modules, power generation systems (via the Seebeck Effect), cooling systems (via the Peltier effect) or small-scale power supplies for IOT and wearable devices.

Thermoelectric generators produce power via the Seebeck effect, generating an electromotive force between parts of a conductor that are at different temperatures. The process can also be reversed: by applying voltage to a thermocouple (a junction of two different conductors) one part of it is cooled while another is heated.

Thus, thermoelectrical devices can be used as generators or as temperature regulators. Specific applications, thermoelectric products and their efficiency factors are plotted in the data-file.

Smaller thermoelectric generators are used to power wireless sensors, transmitters, actuators, and other devices among the Internet of Things. Larger generators have been used to power space probes via heat from the decay of onboard radioactive material.

A breakdown of thermoelectric efficiency from first principles is also broken out in the data-file, as a function of the material’s Figure of Merit (aka the ZT score, chart below). ZT can be calculated from Seebeck coefficients, electrical conductivity, and thermal conductivity of mobile electrons and the underlying crystal lattice (numbers in the data-file).

Most commercial materials today have a ZT<1 and therefore have 2-7% module-level efficiencies for thermoelectric generators, through to 0.5-5x Coefficients of Performance for thermoelectric cooling.

Today’s efficiency factors are generally lower than Organic Rankine Cycles and much lower than Thermal Power plants. But these devices also use semiconductors. Hence could their future efficiency improve, matching the recent trends in the solar industry? We aim to answer this question in our recent overview of thermoelectric generation.

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