Working remotely: the economics, the opportunity?

We quantify the economic benefits of working remotely between $5-16k per employee per year, as a function of income levels, looking line-by-line across time savings, productivity gains, office costs and energy costs. The model allows you to flex these input assumptions and test your own scenarios.

Based on our research, we think the proportion of remote work could step up from 2009 and 2017 levels (quantified in the file) to displace 30% of all commutes by 2030. This conclusion is justified, by summarizing an excellent technical paper, and a granular breakdown of jobs around the US economy, looking profession-by-profession.

Domestic travel miles: a deep-dive by purpose, vehicles and demographics

Global oil demand is going through an unprecedented disruption. In the short-term, this is due to COVID-19. In the long-term, it is due to the rise of the internet and the energy transition. To contextualise how demand will change, we have aggregated granular data on travel-miles in the US and the UK.

This data-file breaks down all miles travelled by individuals in the US and UK, according to 20 different categorizations on 20 distinct tabs: by purpose, by vehicle type, by journey distance, by age, by income category, and by urban location; plus we assess remote working’s impact on commuter-miles, and internet retail’s impact on shopping-miles.

The data are derived from the US National Household Travel Survey, which was last conducted in 2017, collecting a day’s data across 1M journeys from 250,000 individuals in the United States; and the UK Department of Transportation’s National Travel Surveys, which interviews and tabulates travel-diaries from 14,000 – 20.000 individuals each year since 2002.

For TSE clients, we will be happy to run further, bespoke data and charting requests. Please contact us if this would be useful.

CO2 emissions from batteries: when do EVs break even?

This data-file tabulates the CO2 intensity of producing lithium ion batteries for automotive use, split across 10 different components, informed by the technical literature. Producing the average EV battery emits 9T of CO2.

Electric Vehicles should have c40% lower emissions than gasoline vehicles over their entire useful lives, assuming equivalent mileages.

But manufacturing EVs has an energy deficit, which means the ascent of EVs could increase net fossil fuel demand all the way out to 2037 (note here).

This data-file can be used to calculate the crossover point, which comes after around 3.5 years and c50,000 miles (chart above). The numbers will vary as a function of grid composition, technical improvements and vehicle specifications.

Aerial Vehicles: Which Ones Fly?

We have compiled a database of over 100 companies, which have already flown c40 aerial vehicles (aka “flying cars”) and the number should rise to c60 by 2021.

The data substantiates our conclusion that aerial vehicles will gain credibility in the 2020s, the way electric vehicles did in the 2010s. Our latest updated in early-2020 shows strong progress was made in 2019 (chart below).

The database categorizes the top vehicle concepts by type, company, year-founded, company-size, company-geography, backers, fuel-type, speed, range, take-off weight, payload, year of first prototype, target commercial delivery date, fuel economy and required battery weights.

Some vehicle concepts are extremely impressive and credible; but a few may find it more challenging to meet the ranges they have promised at current battery densities…

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.

Value in Use: CO2 intensities of household items?

We estimate costs and carbon intensities per use for twenty low-utilisation household objects: the average is $13 per use and 1.3kg of CO2, respectively. Both are high numbers.

The biggest determinant is the number of uses per item.  We fear that once purchased by a consumer, the average item on our list will be used just c20 times in its entire lifetime.

More extensive “sharing” will be enabled by drone delivery technologies, potentially saving $150bn of annual sales and 15MTpa of CO2 emissions across these 20 items items alone. Across the entire US economy the savings could reach $1trn and 100MT per year.

Distribution Costs: Ships, Trucks, Trains and Delivery Vans?

This data-file breaks down the financial and carbon costs associated with a typical US consumer’s purchasing habits. It covers container-ships, trucks, rail freight, cars and last-mile delivery vans; based on the ton-miles associated with each vehicle and its fuel economy.

We estimate the distribution chain for the typical US consumer costs 1.5bbls of fuel, 600kg of CO2 and $1,000 per annum.

The costs will increase 20-40% in the next decade, as the share of online retail doubles to c20%. New technologies are needed in last-mile delivery, such as drones.

Please download the model to for a full breakdown of the data, and its sensitivity to oil prices, consumption patterns, international trade and exciting new delivery technologies.

Drones attack military fuel economy?

This data-file quantifies the fuel economies of typical military vehicle-types, as $1.7 trn per annum of global military activity consumes c0.7Mbpd of total oil demand on our estimates, which are also included in the data-file.

Military drones  are transformational. Almost all the incumbent military vehicles in our data-file have fuel economies below 1 mpg. But the Reaper and Predator drones, famous for their deployment in recent conflicts, have achieved 3mpg and 8mpg respectively. But small, next-generation electric drones will achieve well above 1,000 mpg-equivalent.

Swarms of small-scale electric drones could emerge as the most devastating military weapon of the 21st century, according to a book we read last year on the topic, arguing that “A swarm of armed drones is like a flying minefield…they are so numerous that they are impossible to defeat… each one presents a target just 4-inches across… and shooting down a $1,000 drone with a $5,000 missile is not a winning strategy”. Our notes on the book are included in the data-file.


Container ships versus trucks and trains

This data-file tabulates c10 examples for the fuel economy of container vessels, which is a function of their size and speed.

The most efficient container ships are 2x more efficient than typical trains and 20x more efficient than typical trucks.

We calculate that moving goods from overseas to the developed world’s c1bn consumers accounts for c0.5% of global CO2 emissions (c50% in ships, c50% in trucks). These calculations are also shown in the data-file.

Drone Delivery: the Energy Economics

This data-file quantifies the energy economics of drone-deliveries, after Amazon and Google both announced breakthrough progress in this space in 2019.

15 commercial drones are evaluated in the ‘drones’ tab, which tabulates their energy consumption as a function of weight, velocity, flight times and costs (chart above).

The equations of flight are then modeled out fully for Amazon’s Prime Air concept in the ‘AmazonCalculation’ tab; for a full comparison against trucks.

We conclude that drone delivery could use c90% less energy, c99% less cost and c90% lower carbon than is typical in current last-mile deliveries.