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Weekly Highlights | From High-Flying Cleantech to a Crude Oil Price Spike
Weekly Highlights | From High-Flying Cleantech to a Crude Oil Price Spike
illuminem
By illuminem
Jul 09 2021 · 5 min read

Illuminem Voices
Energy · Nuclear · Environmental Sustainability

1. Silicon Valley Is Back In Cleantech. Will This Time Be Different?​

By Forbes

  • After losing billions of dollars betting in the 2000s, investors are now betting again on cleantech firms. So the question is, will this time be different?
  • In the first wave VCs approached the cleantech sector as they were used to with the other industries, without taking into account that such approach was ill-equipped for traditional industries (e.g. steel plants are more regulated and difficult to replace than smartphones)
  • In order to make things work this time, VCs must take a new approach, aiming to partnering, supporting and working with industrial firms (currently being one of the main sources of greenhouse emissions) rather than preaching to them

2. Gas Market Report Q3-2021​

By IEA

  • Gas demand had a slight decrease in 2020 but it is expected to grow in the upcoming years (+7% vs pre Covid level in 2024, mainly driven by the Asia Pacific region and the industrial sector). Despite the growth, more ambitious policies are needed to shift to a net zero path
  • The focus on cleaner gas supply is growing (e.g. hydrogen or biomethane)
  • LNG markets tighten (+17% vs pre Covid, much smaller growth vs 2016-2019)

3. Trees Save Lives in Heat Waves. So Why Aren’t We Saving Trees?

By New York Times

  • Trees are superheroes. They can lower air temperature in city neighborhoods by 10 degrees.
  • They also reduce electricity demand for air conditioning helping to avoid catastrophic power failures during heat waves.
  • However, American cities and towns lose more than 36 million trees every year. This stems from several reasons, including mis-management.
  • The challenge is persuading property owners, who own a large share of the land in cities and towns, to plant and maintain trees in their yards.
  • Trees should be perceived as valuable infrastructure, providing both economic and environmental benefits. However, these benefits are still largely ignored by many.

4. The case for Negative Emissions

By McKinsey & Company

  • Keeping global warming below 1.5°C is critical and cannot be achieved without negative emissions solutions (30-fold underinvested today)
  • Negative emissions solutions are ready to scale sustainably today. The deployment at scale can reduce their cost significantly.
  • At-scale negative emissions solutions can bring about broader societal benefits, such as the creation of four million to ten million new jobs and effective skills transfers.
  • Challenges in supply, intermediation and demand need to be resolved simultaneously in order for negative emissions solutions to scale-up.

5. Gold price boosted by recovery in central bank buying

By Mining.com

  • Gold prices climbed higher on Monday 5th July as it appears that central banks have regained their appetite for buying.
  • The recovery in global trade is bolstering the current accounts of emerging market nations, giving their central banks the option of buying more gold.
  • And that is likely to continue. If a central bank is looking at diversifying, gold is a marvelous way of moving out of the dollar without selecting another currency.
  • In a bullish scenario, as the global economy rebounds, central bank buying could reach about 1,000 tonnes.

6. Lithium supply chain threatened by East-West geopolitical tensions

By Mining.com

  • The supply chain of lithium batteries is in big trouble because of the tensions between the US and China.
  • On the supply front, the lithium market is geographically quite concentrated: Australia, Chile and China for extraction and China for chemical processing and battery manufacturing.
  • Resource nationalism and government intervention are likely to increase, while expected consumption will outpace supply developments.

7. Time For Frackers To Gear Up? Oil Spikes To $76 On OPEC Failure To Boost Output

By Forbes

  • Crude oil prices hit three-year highs above $76 a barrel as a diplomatic impasse hit the OPEC+ meeting.
  • Disagreements on which producing countries would get to reverse their cuts first and sell more crude after the recovery post Covid. UAE leading antagonist.
  • One force that OPEC would prefer not to have to reckon with are America’s oil frackers. However, Biden policy would like to avoid the resurgence of the oil boom.

8. ESG: Fad or future?

By Live Wire News

  • From time to time, investors become irrationally enthusiastic (1970s and the Nifty 50; 1990s and the emerging internet; Today: ESG)
  • Unless an investor places himself/herself at the philanthropic end of the investment spectrum, none of environmental, social and governance factors on a stand alone basis are enough to disregard the 3 fundamental factors that drive returns:
    • Growth: just as adding dotcom to the name of a company did not make it a good investment in 1999, labelling a business as sustainable will not change anything of substance today
    • Price: The low cost of capital for “good” (ESG) companies is a low expected return for the investors who provide it
    • The weight of money chasing returns in this area: the momentum for this kind of investments can really disguise what is going on with the drivers cited above

9. New recycling techniques set to make electric vehicles greener

By Reuters

  • Researchers have found ways to recycle electric vehicle batteries that can drastically cut costs and carbon emissions.
  • The breakthroughs could make valuable supplies of materials such as cobalt and nickel go further, reducing the dependence on China and difficult mining jurisdictions.
  • For example, using ultrasonic waves would result in cost savings of 60% compared with the cost of virgin material and can process 100 times more battery material over the same period.

10. Clean power standards: inside the plight of hydropower and nuclear

By Power Technology

  • In April, the European Commission updated its investment criteria for clean power projects, leaving nuclear power out as the last remaining energy source not covered by the legislation.
  • Despite its sometimes bad reputation, nuclear power has significant clean energy potential.
  • Since 1970, the replacement of fossil fuels with nuclear has avoided more than 604 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent, and helped prevent close to two million deaths from air pollution alone.
  • Nuclear will have to account for one quarter of Europe’s energy mix to meet its 2050 climate targets and is necessary to achieve climate goals.
  • The increased efficiency of nuclear power has also led to a fall in the price of producing electricity from nuclear sources, making it cheaper than coal or natural gas.

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