Patent review: six ways to gain an edge?

Our research identifies economic opportunities in the energy transition. To do this, we have now drawn upon 20M patents. This 14-page note illustrates the six ways that patent analysis can give decision-makers an edge.

Carbon offsets: costs and leading companies?

This data-file tabulates the costs of carbon offsets being offered to consumers and commercial customers by c30 companies. Prices are surprisingly low, ranging from $4-40/ton of CO2.

Which projects are most economical? Costs are lowest at forestry projects, particularly at companies where you pay “per tree” rather than “per ton” of CO2. They are also lower at non-profits (which also means contributions are tax-deductible). Finally, they are lowest at companies undertaking projects directly, rather than as “middlemen” (charts below).

Are they CO2 offsets real? The also file contains detailed notes on each company, to assess their credentials. Moreover, it tabulates 1,600 carbon offset projects which are assured by agencies such as the ‘Verified Carbon Standard’, Gold Standard and Green-E, for a broader perspective.

Offset your own CO2? We have recently used the data-file to select and allocate our carbon offsetting dollars to Eden Reforestation, One Tree Planted, The Gold Standard and Sea Trees. We are happy to discuss CO2 offsetting with TSE clients and those using the data-file.

Deep blue: cracking the code of carbon capture?

Carbon capture is cursed by colossal costs at small scale. But blue hydrogen may be its saviour. Crucial economies of scale are guaranteed by deploying both technologies together. The combination is a dream scenario for gas producers. This 22-page note outlines the opportunity and costs.

A new case for gas: what if renewables get overbuilt?

Overbuilding renewables may have unintended consequences, making power grids more expensive and less reliable. Hence more businesses may choose to generate their own power behind the meter, installing combined heat and power systems fuelled by natural gas. Modelled IRRs already reach 20-30%. Capturing waste heat also boosts efficiency to 70-80%, which can be 2x higher than grid power, lowering total CO2 by 6-30%. This 17-page note outlines the opportunity and who might benefit.

Low-carbon refining: insane in the membrane?

Almost 1% of global CO2 comes from distillation to separate crude oil fractions at refineries. An alternative is to separate these fractions using precisely engineered polymer membranes, eliminating 50-80% of the costs and 97% of the CO2. We reviewed 1,000 patents, including a major breakthrough in 2020, which takes the technology to TRL5. Refinery membranes also comprise the bottom of the hydrogen cost curve. This 14-page note presents the opportunity and leading companies.

Rise of China: the battle is trade, the war is technology?

China’s pace of technology development is now 6x faster than the US, as measured across 40M patent filings, contrasted back to 1920 in this short, 7-page note. The implications are frightening. Questions are raised over the Western world’s long-term competitiveness, especially in manufacturing; and the consequences of decarbonization policies that hurt competitiveness.

Great white whales: the end of oil and gas?

Whale oil was a dominant, albeit barbaric, lighting fuel in the 19th century. But what happened to pricing as the industry was disrupted by kerosene and ultimately by electric lighting? We find whale oil pricing maintained a 25x premium to rock oil and outperformed other commodities as the whale oil market collapsed. As whaling declined, the prices of by-products (e.g. whale bone) also rallied very sharply. This 8-page note presents our analysis of the whaling industry from 1805 to 1905 and draws implications for the future of the oil and gas industry.

The great leveler: why CO2 prices are crucial?

Energy policies currently act as kingmakers for a select few transition technologies. But they offer no incentives for other, lower cost and more practical alternatives, which could economically decarbonize the whole world by 2050. Hence this 14-page note presents the top five arguments for a simple, transparent, economy-wide CO2 price. We also illustrate who would benefit versus which bubbles may burst.

US Shale: the second coming?

Future US shale productivity can still rise at a 5% CAGR to 2025, based on evaluating 300 technical papers from 2020. The latest improvements are discussed in this 12-page note, and may spark more productivity gains than any prior year. Thus unconventionals could grow by 2.6Mbpd per annum from 2022-25 to quench deeply under-supplied oil markets. But hurdles remain. The leading technologies are also becoming concentrated in the hands of fewer operators and an emerging group of oil services.

Wind power: decline rate conclusions?

This 4-page PDF presents our conclusions from tabulating the ‘decline rates’ of 1,215 US wind power plants, which have reported data to the US EIA. US wind generation profiles are not dissimilar from well-managed oil and gas fields; some projects may suffer 2% lower IRRs versus forecasts if they have not factored in declines; and declines will also become more material over time, slowing the ascent of wind’s share in the power mix (chart below).

For the full data-file underlying this PDF, please see here.