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Weekly Highlights | From a roadmap for low-carbon fuels to the paradox of nuclear energy

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By illuminem

· 6 min read

1. Big Ideas 2022

By ARK Invest

  • ARK’s research is centered around the belief that five innovation platforms are evolving and converging at the same time: Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Energy Storage, DNA Sequencing, and Blockchain Technology
  • Declining battery costs could yield an explosion in mobility, pushing electrical supply out to network nodes and reducing EV prices enough to compete with traditional gas-powered cars
  • Battery technologies will converge with robotics and artificial intelligence resulting in the collapse of the cost structure of transportation, impacting the economics of auto, rail, and airline activities

2. Carbon Offsetting Is not Warding Off Environmental Collapse – It’s Accelerating it

By The Guardian

  • A carbon credit represents one tonne of greenhouse gases, deemed to have been avoided or removed from the atmosphere
  • Rather than committing to leave fossil fuels in the ground, oil and gas firms continue to prospect for new reserves while claiming that the credits they buy have turned them “carbon neutral”
  • While there are international standards for how carbon should be counted, there is no accounting for the moral hazard of carbon offsets

3. The Surprisingly Low Price Tag on Preventing Climate Disaster

By Times

  • According to the International Energy Agency, achieving a net-zero carbon economy would require us to spend just 2% of annual global GDP over what we already do on our energy system
  • We can quibble endlessly about the numbers, tweaking the models this way and that. But we should look at the big picture beyond the math. The crucial news is that the price tag of preventing the apocalypse is in the low single digits of annual global GDP. It is certainly not 50% of annual global GDP, nor is it 15%. Rather, it is somewhere below 5%
  • However, signing a check for 2% of annual global GDP is far from the whole story. It won’t solve all our ecological problems, such as oceans brimming with plastic or the continued loss of biodiversity. And even to prevent catastrophic climate change, we’ll need to make sure that the funds are invested in the right places and that the new investments don’t cause their own negative ecological or social fallout

4. The Road Ahead for Low-Carbon Fuels


  • Electric-powered vehicles are only part of the answer if the transport sector is to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. For areas where electrification isn’t a realistic option (e.g., aviation and shipping) low-carbon fuels will be essential
  • Between biofuels, power-to-X fuels that depend on green hydrogen, and fuels that rely on blue hydrogen made from natural gas, we expect a $40 to $50 billion global market in low-carbon fuels to materialize by 2030, driven by early adopters willing to pay a premium to meet decarbonization pressures and benefit from regulatory incentives
  • Customers choice (e.g.,Danish shipping group Maersk planning to operate eight methanol-fueled vessels starting in the first quarter of 2024), Regulations (e.g., Renewable Energy Directive III in the EU) and Cost competitiveness (e.g., for complex fuels like methanol and hydrocarbons) can be considered the three key factors which will determine the success of low-carbon fuels

5. Financing Green Hydrogen: Start with the Obvious

By The Economist

  • Banks will not extend loans against imagined future demand from hydrogen-powered planes, trains and steel mills. They require guaranteed cashflow from a creditworthy customer
  • That is why we should focus first on greening existing hydrogen uses. More than 70m tons of hydrogen is consumed each year, mainly to refine oil and produce ammonia. Nearly all of that hydrogen is generated from reforming methane
  • Banks are most likely to finance renewable energy-powered electrolysers to produce green hydrogen at ammonia plants and refineries, because demand for the gas is proven. That would cut emissions from methane-produced hydrogen immediately. It would also show that green hydrogen is viable rather than theoretical and allow electrolyser technology to be scaled

6. The Utility of White-Hot Rage

By Atlantic 

  • A recent poll conducted by Yale found that 70% of US citizens are worried about climate change and 47% are angry about it. While despair triggers self-care and more passiveness, anger can be channeled towards action
  • An important aspect is to figure out how to direct this anger in a productive and impactful way. Used rightly, anger can galvanize and create real change; for ex. either by voicing concerns, joining a climate movement or doing collective work
  • Activists channeling need to balance out anger with strategies to internally cope with these emotions, as some suffer from “ambient anxiety”. One way they use is to enjoy simple moments of life, in order to increase their own resilience

7. What It’ll Take to Get Electric Planes off the Ground

By Wired

  • While car batteries have dramatically improved over the years, with an autonomy of 650km+, the amount of energy they can store fall well short of what would be needed to power another mode of transportation: planes
  • To power planes, batteries need to be both sufficiently light and powerful to take off, and store enough energy to cruise, which either requires dropping the idea to use batteries for planes or rethinking their fundamentals
  • While promising techs are developed, a problem is that developers want assurance that their techs will be bought, and plane makers want assurance that these work before buying. While they might be decades away, battery-powered planes have chances to become reality

8. Europe Is Losing Nuclear Power Just When It Really Needs Energy

By Bloomberg Green

  • As the Fukushima disaster unfolded in Japan in 2011, then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a dramatic decision to ditch all reactors. Belgium and Spain, meanwhile, are following Germany in abandoning nuclear. Austria rejected it in a referendum in 1978
  • Today, Euope is facing an energy crisis. Wholesale power prices are up 4x compared to the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Governments are having to take emergency action to support domestic and industrial consumers faced with crippling bills, which could rise higher if the tension over Ukraine escalates
  • Other regions meanwhile are cracking on. China is moving fast on nuclear to try to clean up its air quality. Its suite of reactors is on track to surpass that of the U.S., the world’s largest, by as soon as the middle of this decade. Russia is moving forward with new stations at home and has more than 20 reactors confirmed or planned for export construction

9. Can A Smarter Grid Jolt The U.S. Economy And Circumvent Climate Change?

By Forbes

  • Biden’s new “Build a Better Grid Initiative” will be the centerpiece of plans to produce 100% clean electricity by 2035 and reach net-zero by 2050 and will induce megaprojects, including expanding the current grid by 60% and renovate 60% of it
  • While large-scale unified grids can have a significant impact on CO2 emissions, they need to address cost-allocation and cost-sharing issues to create value for every stakeholder. They also need real-time monitoring systems
  • A centralized system can significantly increase reliability and efficiency and lower costs, allowing power to be allocated where it is needed and reducing black-out risks; creating a large-scale smart grid is an undergoing challenging process

10. Supply, Geopolitics Put Oil on Track for Biggest Monthly Gain in Almost a Year

By Reuters

  • Oil prices are raising, boosted by a supply shortage and political tensions in Eastern Europe and the Middle East
  • The only short-term solution for balancing the supply-short oil market will therefore need to come from OPEC+, and steered by Saudi Arabia, the producer with the largest spare capacity
  • The head of NATO said on Sunday that Europe needed to diversify its energy supplies as Britain warned it was "highly likely" that Russia was looking to invade Ukraine

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