David Fuller and Eoin Treacy's Comment of the Day
Category - Energy

    Email of the day - on the politicisation of monetary policy

    I hope life for you in California is more fun than it is here in England. But let's hope we really are past the low point as far as the virus is concerned. I had thought that would be true for economies too, but this latest move by President Trump (summarised in the article by Ambrose Evans Pritchard) does raise questions. With this move, which asset classes do you think will benefit and which will lose on a 3-6 month timescale?

    Best wishes to you and family. 

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    A New UN Push Aims to Feed the World's Rabid Hunger for Carbon Credits

    This article by Eric Roston for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    It’s a tricky proposition, though. Offset programs are notoriously difficult to execute with confidence. REDD+, launched in 2007 to much fanfare among developing nations and UN climate negotiators, but has rarely lived up to its original excitement as developed nations failed to install carbon-pricing policies that succeed in guaranteeing demand. 

    Global demand for offsets may outstrip supply by 2025, according to a September analysis by Fitch Ratings. Many companies, including Microsoft Corp, The Walt Disney Co, and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, have already begun either buying or planning to buy offsets. Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos this week announced $791 million in funding for 16 environmental groups, including $100 million each to organizations with strong forestry or offsets programs—EDF, World Resources Institute, and World Wildlife Fund.

    Navigating the challenges to come may require groups like Emergent to continue to act as market-making entities. Or, if markets get the boost they need from the Green Gigaton Challenge and other initiatives, “we'd be thrilled to turn off the lights, close the door,” Bloomgarden said. “Impact achieved.”

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    Panasonic Is the Latest Company Betting on Electric Vehicles, Powering Past Its Tesla Partnership to Explore a Venture in Norway

    This article by Jack Denton for Barrons may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    Europe is one of the fastest-moving spaces in the race to dominate an expected boom in electric vehicles, with at least 12 countries planning a ban on internal combustion engine vehicles in coming years. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday a ban on the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars, to come into effect by 2030.

    Tesla is building a gigafactory in Germany and is reportedly planning one in the U.K., while one of its key rivals, Northvolt, is building a gigafactory in Sweden. Established European car makers like Daimler, Volkswagen, and BMW are racing to build electric vehicles on their own or through partnerships, and Panasonic has previously supplied batteries to Volkswagen and Peugeot.

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    Batteries of the Future Are Weightless and Invisible

    This article by Daniel Oberhaus for Wired.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    Unlike the carbon-fiber and lithium-ion sheets being developed by Asp and Greenhalgh, Kotov and his students created a zinc-air structural battery for their automatons. This cell chemistry is able to store much more energy than conventional Li-ion cells. It consists of a zinc anode, a carbon cloth cathode, and a semi-rigid electrolyte made from polymer-based nanofibers that is nanoengineered to mimic cartilage. The energy carriers in this type of battery are hydroxide ions that are produced when oxygen from the air interacts with the zinc.

    While structural batteries for vehicles are highly rigid, the cell developed by Kotov’s team is meant to be pliable to cope with the movements of the robots. They’re also incredibly energy-dense. As Kotov and his team detailed in a paper published earlier this year, their structural batteries have 72 times the energy capacity of a conventional lithium-ion cell of the same volume. For now, their batteries are being used to power robotic toys and small drones as a proof of concept. But Kotov says he expects they’ll be used in midsize robots as well as larger hobby drones in the not-so-distant future. “Drones and medium-size robots need to have new solutions for energy storage,” Kotov says. “I can guarantee you that structural batteries will be a part of that.”

    The battery has always been an addendum, a limiting factor, and a parasite. Today it’s vanishing before our eyes, melting into the fabric of our electrified world. In the future, everything will be a battery, and stand-alone energy storage will seem as quaint as landline telephones and portable CD players. It’s a disappearing act worthy of a great magician: Now you see it—and soon you won’t.

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    World Energy Outlook 2020

    This summary report from the IEA may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    Renewables grow rapidly in all our scenarios, with solar at the centre of this new constellation of electricity generation technologies. Supportive policies and maturing technologies are enabling very cheap access to capital in leading markets. With sharp cost reductions over the past decade, solar PV is consistently cheaper than new coal- or gasfired power plants in most countries, and solar projects now offer some of the lowest cost electricity ever seen. In the STEPS, renewables meet 80% of the growth in global electricity demand to 2030. Hydropower remains the largest renewable source of electricity, but solar is the main driver of growth as it sets new records for deployment each year after 2022, followed by onshore and offshore wind. The advance of renewable sources of generation, and of solar in particular, as well as the contribution of nuclear power, is much stronger in the SDS and NZE2050. The pace of change in the electricity sector puts an additional premium on robust grids and other sources of flexibility, as well as reliable supplies of the critical minerals and metals that are vital to its secure transformation. Storage plays an increasingly vital role in ensuring the flexible operation of power systems, with India becoming the largest market for utility-scale battery storage.

    …but the downturn creates risks for the backbone of today’s power systems
    Electricity grids could prove to be the weak link in the transformation of the power sector, with implications for the reliability and security of electricity supply. The projected requirement for new transmission and distribution lines worldwide in the STEPS is 80% greater over the next decade than the expansion seen over the last ten years. The importance of electricity networks rises even more in faster energy transitions. However, the financial health of many utilities, especially in developing economies, has worsened as a result of the crisis. There is a disparity in many countries between the spending required for smart, digital and flexible electricity networks and the revenues available to grid operators, creating a risk to the adequacy of investment under today’s regulatory structures.

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    Email of the day on hydrogen investments

    Given hydrogen powered energy is an emerging trend I would be grateful! Mr. Treacy could mention the name of related ETFs or any other tradable security that would provide exposure to this trend.

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    Pfizer Soars After Vaccine Prevents 90% of Covid Cases in Study

    This article by Robert Langreth, Naomi Kresge and Riley Griffin for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:
     

    However, the strong reading from the first large-scale trial to post efficacy results bodes well for other experimental vaccines, in particular one being developed by Moderna Inc. that uses similar technology. Its big trial could generate efficacy and safety results in weeks. If that study succeeds as well, there could be two vaccines available in the U.S. by around year-end.

    Pfizer expects to get two months of safety follow-up data, a key metric required by U.S. regulators before an emergency authorization is granted, in the third week in November. If those findings raise no problems, Pfizer could apply for an authorization in the U.S. this month. A rolling review is in process in Europe.

    So far, the trial’s data monitoring committee has identified no serious safety concerns, Pfizer and BioNTech said.

    Leading the Race
    The positive preliminary data mean the U.S. pharma giant and its German partner are on track to be first with a vaccine, after signing advance deals with governments worldwide for hundreds of thousands of doses. The companies have said they should be able to produce 1.3 billion doses -- enough to vaccinate 650 million people -- by the end of 2021. About 50 million doses are expected to be available in 2020.

    “It shows that Covid-19 can be controlled,” BioNTech Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin said in an interview. “At the end of the day, it’s really a victory of science.”

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    China's Fifth Plenum: Reading the Initial Tea Leaves

    This article from the Center for Strategic & International Studies may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    As expected, the plenum declared that China had met the critical political goal of becoming a “moderately prosperous society” in 2020. By the end of the year, China’s GDP is expected to reach nearly 100 trillion yuan (RMB)—equivalent to $14.3 trillion—a figure higher than the plan’s forecast of RMB 92.7 trillion, which makes China’s economy in nominal terms about 66.7 percent the size of that of the United States in 2019 ($21.4 trillion), up from 40.6 percent the size of the United States in 2010. China reportedly lifted 55.75 million people out of poverty and created 60 million jobs in urban areas over the past half-decade. By the end of 2020, there will be basic medical insurance coverage for 1.3 billion and basic pension support for nearly 1 billion citizens.

    Looking ahead, the plenum emphasized that the 14th Five-Year Plan will build on the 13th Five-Year Plan’s principles of innovation, regional coordination, green development, international openness, and social equity. That said, there was a distinct emphasis on strengthening the domestic economy. There was no mention of a growth rate target; instead, the country will focus on improving quality and raising productivity. The plan will highlight China’s need to gain technological independence; become a powerhouse in manufacturing, cyber, and the digital economy; and raise China’s international competitiveness. At the same time, China will need to expand domestic consumption as a share of the economy, which will be dependent on raising wages, building a more complete social safety net, and expanding economic opportunities in rural China.

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    Email of the day - on solar/wind power to generate hydrogen

    The Australian government just approved fast tracking the Asian Renewable Energy Hub (asianrehub.com) proposed to be built in the Pilbara. It will generate green hydrogen from water using solar and wind energy that can produce clean ammonia to power ships, generate power and be used as a feed-stock for industrial processes. They say it will be the world's biggest power station at 26,000MW, covering 6500 square kilometers of land. It will start exporting in 2028.

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