Every week I share and write about some of the biggest stories on the upcoming energy revolution transforming our world. This is edition #6. Sorry for the delay this week - am testing something.
My aim? To cover (and help spur) growing interest and investment in cheap, clean energy. It will make our lives vastly better and stop the climate crisis.
I’m taking a tech and financial perspective. What technologies are around the corner? Where is the money coming and going? Who is doing interesting things?
Why October was a watershed month for how we travel
October was a watershed month for the world of clean energy and transport. Tesla reached a value of $1.227 trillion dollars. Its price has fallen since but that doesn’t matter. The rubicon has been crossed.
Why it matters: Elon Musk has single-handedly changed how we fuel our travel. Car companies had previously hesitated to invest in EVs or preferred alternative technologies (such as hydrogen fuel cells or LPG). No more. Electricity has decisively won the future, thanks to Tesla.
Some say Tesla’s influence is overrated but the industry admits it. Last week, Tesla was worth more than the next 12 car companies combined. Volkswagen’s CEO recently ate humble pie and admitted Tesla’s influence. Toyota - which earlier resisted EVs - has now given in. The entire car industry is ditching fossil-fuels faster than anyone hoped. And it’s all because of Tesla’s valuation.
Other EV makers are getting a boost too. There are now three EV-only car companies in the top 12: Tesla, NIO (Chinese) and Lucid (American). Lucid Motors is worth more than BMW even though its first cars are barely rolling off the production line. Very soon, Rivian - which is backed by Amazon and - may join the top 10. Polestar - backed by Volvo - is also going on the stock market. Their value is expected to sky-rocket because everyone wants to invest in the next Tesla.
Battery-makers are becoming big businesses
Since the dawn of the electronics age, batteries have become ubiquitous. It’s less known how cheap they’ve become. In 2010, lithium-ion batteries cost nearly $1,200 per kilowatt-hour. Now they are headed to $100 / KWh. Normally, that would depress valuations for battery makers. Instead the insatiable demand for batteries has made them behemoths.
China-based battery maker CATL - the world’s largest - is now close to becoming the country’s second-largest listed company, with a market capitalization of over 1.55 trillion yuan ($242 billion). It has surged 90% this year.
Tesla isn’t just building cars, it also makes a shit-load of batteries and wants to dominate that industry too. It’s already opening new factories in Austin and Berlin to build batteries. Now it’s opening one in Ontario too.
Britain is also belatedly trying to build a battery-hub. Battery manufacturer Britishvolt is on the verge of securing around £200 million of UK govt funding for a Northumberland factory. Shanghai-based Envision is building a ‘giga-factory’ in Sunderland for other EVs.
After years of growth, solar and wind companies face problems
Over the last decade, the price of solar energy has fallen by nearly 90%, and by 70% for wind power. But the industry is now facing hiccups too.
This week, the Danish power group Orsted and wind turbine maker Vestas warned that they face supply-chain problems like everyone else. This has made raw materials for wind turbines and solar panels more expensive.
Why is this happening? The pandemic was a boon for clean energy. As fossil fuel stations closed due to lower demand, solar and wind picked up the slack. Global investment into clean energy shot up too. But the pandemic also caused supply-chain problems as companies first cut orders, and then over-ordered everything.
A few months ago, solar panel makers warned of similar problems. Orsted, the world’s largest offshore wind farm developer, said its profits took a hit due to lower wind speeds across Europe. Get ready for a bumpy ride.
Want to invest in clean energy in Asia? You can buy shares for that
Two-thirds of all people live in developing countries, but they get only a fifth of global investment in clean energy. Sure, they also consume less energy. But developing countries will need 7x more investment to get to net-zero by 2050: from $150 billion in 2020 to over $1 trillion every year by 2030. Private investment will have to play a part too.
This week, a British infrastructure investment company said it plans to raise over $300 million via the stockmarket to invest in clean energy in Asian countries. Unusually, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) will also invest up to £25m.
Why it matters: if successful, this route could encourage more institutional and small investors to take clean energy in developing countries more seriously.
ThomasLloyd Energy Impact Trust (TLEI), will list on the London Stock Exchange and give people a chance to invest in clean energy in Asia by buying its shares. More on its plans here.
Solar PV, energy storage and other green tech got important business rates exemptions and relief in the UK 2021 Budget.
EV charging-points company Pod Point is due to list on the London Stock Exchange for around £350 million valuation.
UK-based ITM Power, an energy storage and clean fuel company, is building a second green hydrogen factory in Sheffield.
Small and environmentally-friendly transport is increasingly challenging the car. Welcome to the micro-mobility revolution.
The US Department of Energy wants to slash the cost of capturing carbon directly from the air.