Category Archives: Owning the Energy Transition

President Trump’s Energy Agenda Won’t Stop Renewables’ and Energy Storage’s Momentum

President Trump’s energy agenda’s strongly positive rhetoric around boosting oil and gas production and revitalizing the coal industry will only go so far, as economics in both industries play a larger role. Despite Trump’s political agenda, his actual influence will have an overall moderate impact in the U.S. energy landscape.

In an examination of Trump’s America First Energy Plan, we determined how the Trump administration may impact domestic energy in five segments of the energy landscape – oil and gas, renewable fuels, coal, renewables and storage, and offshore wind.

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Ripple Effects of Dieselgate Continue to Negatively Impact Diesel’s Outlook

Once touted as the cleaner alternative to gasoline due to lower CO2 emissions, the use of diesel as a transportation fuel is under intense scrutiny following Volkswagen’s scandal in 2015. Since then, academics and media outlets have publicized the adverse effects of NOx emissions on air quality and public health. In a somewhat knee-jerk reaction, many governments around the world called for an outright ban of diesel vehicles.

Lux Research compiled a non-exhaustive list of cities around the world that announced intentions to ban diesel vehicles. While some cities called for a blanket ban, others are introducing restrictions to limit the number of diesel vehicles, a step we believe will eventually move towards a ban.

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Living in Glass Houses: The Costs and Future for Tesla’s Solar Roof

In late 2016, Elon Musk announced that Tesla would soon be offering solar roofs for homes, and claimed further that the roofs would be less expensive than non-photovoltaic roofs, even without income from photovoltaic generation. The company has partnered with 3M, which produces a film for the tiles to hide the solar cells when viewing from shallow angles. Recently, the company released its estimates for price, as well as the assumptions it relied on in order to reach those figures. Continue reading

Doing Well by Doing Good: Finding an Opportunity for Renewable Energy Investment as a Financial Vehicle for Sustained Growth

For a number of reports, Lux has relied on electricity grid mix forecasts and future plug-in adoption models. In this analysis, we further investigate these projections in the context of energy infrastructure capital expenditures and carbon emissions. The implications of how energy infrastructure is invested in over the next two decades are tremendous, ranging from flat capital expenditures with grim environmental consequences, to a growing investment market that achieves climate targets. We’ll investigate the conditions that lead to these divergent energy capital expenditure scenarios to understand the key drivers and implications. Continue reading

Biggest Month in Cellulosic Ethanol Production is Misleading

In March, the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) saw a record 617,908 gallons of cellulosic ethanol registered for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs). This is the highest number of RINs generated in a single month since the RFS was established. However, before we begin announcing the ramp-up of commercial cellulosic ethanol production, a comparison to historical production numbers shows that things are still (slowly) proceeding at a business-as-usual pace.

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Japan’s Second Round of Production Tests from Methane Hydrates is all about Energy Independence

What They Said

Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) recently announced the country would start its second offshore production test this month to dissolve methane hydrates and extract natural gas in the offshore sea area along Atsumi Peninsula to Shima Peninsula. The tests will be carried out in two wells and will be performed over a five-week period. Japan has an estimated 40 trillion ft3 of methane hydrates with the country aiming to commercialize production from the deposits by 2025.

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Innovating Under the Trump Administration: Early Winners and Losers

All eyes have been on the U.S. since Donald Trump won the election last November. So far, outcomes have been mixed: on one hand, the Dow Jones Index has witnessed a historical surge since his election win, rising from just below 18,000 to above 21,000. The U.S. Dollar Index has seen similar benefits, strengthening from just below 97 to nearly 102 in early April. While these factors play along with Trump’s campaign slogan to “Make America Great Again,” not all policy changes were welcomed and many have seen substantial criticism. Continue reading

Forecasting Next-Gen Li-ion Application Fit in Electric Aviation: Finding Space in Aerospace for New Battery Chemistries

The fossil fuels that enabled the jet age due to their considerable energy density may soon be yielding to electric aircraft for the same reason. Thanks to the increasing energy density of new battery chemistries, electric aerospace has received considerable attention as the future of flight. Today, most consumer and commercial drones are electric for weight and simplicity (see the report “UAV Landscape and Market Size: The Impact of Technology and Regulation on Commercial Applications” [client registration required]), and startups like Zee Aero and upstarts like Uber and Airbus’ corporate incubator A^3 have all announced they would be pursuing electric aircraft for transportation. Electric aircraft seem like a perfect fit for new energy-dense battery technology, with the aerospace industry being less sensitive to cost and cycle life considerations than the automotive sector, where these factors are key inputs to vehicle cost. However, a closer look at cell-level requirements for different aerospace platforms shows that it may not be plane sailing after all. Continue reading

Toyota’s Misguided Chase After the Mirage of a Solar Vehicle: Panasonic’s HIT Cells Don’t Get the Car Too Far

The idea of a solar-powered car has drawn another attempt from an optimistic manufacturer. Toyota has announced an optional 180 W Panasonic HIT (heterojunction with intrinsic thin layer) module for the roof of its plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), the 2017 Prius Prime. This comes as Toyota’s second attempt; the 2010 Prius infamously could not connect its rooftop panels to the drive battery without strangely broadcasting radio signals, so the 50W panel only powered a fan to cool the interior. With more than triple the original wattage and new optimism from Toyota, the new module is intended to charge the drive battery and power unspecified car accessories. Toyota estimates that the module will add about 3.7 miles daily to the PHEV’s current range (25 miles electric, 615 miles gasoline). Continue reading

Artificial Intelligence Cannot Make Better Batteries Just yet, but Stanford Researchers Are Making Progress

Stanford University researchers have published a new study in Energy & Environmental Sciences that applies artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to accelerate the development of advanced batteries. Specifically, they looked to improve solid-state battery electrolytes, which are a very promising class of materials that could potentially improve the safety, performance, and cost of energy storage, affecting important applications like plug-in vehicles. While this initial Stanford study did not physically result in better batteries yet, it does present an early and important case study in how AI will impact how science will be done in the future, and how it can accelerate progress on open problems like next-generation battery development. Continue reading