Category Archives: Owning the Energy Transition

Robotic Cleaning Systems for Photovoltaics Is the First Step to a New Balance-of-Systems Package

Utility-scale solar systems are increasingly becoming competitive with conventional energy sources as tariffs continue to drop, largely as a result of sinking module costs. Under these market conditions, the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative – a support organization for the commercialization of solar technologies – announced it has reached its 2020 goal of an average cost for utility-scale systems at $0.06/kWh three years early. As such, SunShot has promised $62 million to support concentrated solar power systems and $20 million for supporting power electronics. The SunShot Initiative’s goal is to improve grid reliability and resilience as photovoltaic systems continue to become interconnected, but there is still significant understanding needed to improve the lifetime reliability of photovoltaic systems themselves. Continue reading

Volkwagen’s Electrification Roadmap Now Includes 80 Plug-Ins and 150 GWh of Batteries by 2025

In May 2017, Volkswagen (VW) brand CEO Herbert Diess claimed that VW will surpass Tesla to be the world leader in electric mobility by 2025 – an aggressive target, but coming from a company with the resources to achieve it. At the International Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany, VW CEO Matthias Müller announced Volkswagen’s Roadmap E, committing those resources to a strategy that aims to transform one of the world’s largest OEMs. This roadmap is made up of several key initiatives: Continue reading

Data Shows Clean Energy Innovation Has Fallen off a Cliff – but a Few Bright Spots for Growth Are Emerging

The world looks to be underway towards a dramatic energy transition, as it shifts towards more renewables and a sophisticated digitized grid. It is tempting to think of the battle as already decided: Renewable deployments – driven primarily by solar and wind energy – are growing rapidly, albeit from a small base; costs are falling; policy is directionally favorable. However, new research based on big data analysis indicates a worrying trend – innovation interest in renewables is declining, after peaking about four years ago, as shown in the figure below. Without continued innovation momentum, long-term success driven by further clean energy technology improvements is thrown into question.

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Dieselgate’s Big Data Trail: What Analyzing Innovation Data Says About Diesel Engines’ Spectacular Fall

In late 2015, intrepid emissions testing researchers sent shockwaves through the automotive world by catching Volkswagen in one of the biggest corporate scandals ever: Hidden software allowed its diesel engines to cheat on emissions testing. The repercussions are still being felt today, as more and more countries are turning against the technology. The common narrative is that this was a surprising, unforeseen event, and in many ways, it was. However, newly developed, specialized, big data analysis allows us to investigate diesel innovation – or rather, the lack of diesel innovation – and uncover some interesting trends. By applying our Lux Tech Signal software tool to the topic of diesel engines, we see a suspicious decline in interest in diesel innovation since 2010, as shown in the figure below:

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What’s Happened in the First Half of 2017 in Energy Storage: Meta-Analysis of More Than 300 News Events Across the Industry

Using our News Commentary feature (client registration required), Lux Research analysts have been tracking the energy storage space with unprecedented detail, covering more than 300 chosen individual developments during the past half year. These innovation-related events span from partnerships and investments to new research and new factories, and include information about the companies involved and our own takes on the developments. While this set of coverage is not meant to include every single development, it does capture much of what Lux analysts think is worth considering. The full dataset is available to Lux members to explore here, by clicking the News tab’s Energy Storage filter (client registration required), which includes interactive versions of the visualizations shown below. To help extract insights from this wealth of data, in this summary we analyze the trends that have emerged out of this in-depth coverage of how the energy storage landscape looks like in 2017 thus far, using the following heat map:

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Transportation and Stationary Energy Storage Will Overtake Consumer Electronics as the Largest Markets for Energy Storage by 2018

Consumer electronics like smartphones and laptops have traditionally driven the most demand for energy storage devices such as lithium-ion batteries, but clean energy advances mean that transportation and stationary applications will soon become the largest energy storage markets.

By 2025 the energy storage market will top $100 billion with applications in transportation alone reaching $69 billion. Transformations in the electricity grid mean that stationary storage has the highest growth rates and will reach $19 billion in 2025. This growth will have profound implications, ranging from how whole economies are powered to how populations and products move around.

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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