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  • Writer's pictureSarah Whiteford

Solid-state batteries, Wind power sails, Race to net-zero, Panama canal water supply

It's Good News Monday!

This Monday we talk about:

  1. Bill Gates Backed Battery Maker Goes Public In $3.3 Billion Deal

  2. bp and Equinor form strategic partnership to develop offshore wind energy in US

  3. Changing Tack: Wind Power Sails Back Into Shipping with Swedish Venture

  4. Which Oil Major Is Winning The Race To Net Zero Emissions?

  5. Panama Canal Launches Major New Water Management Project to Ensure Adequate Water Supply

Image Credit: Oil Price

“QuantumScape, a 10-year old battery company backed by Volkswagen Group, is looking to go public through a reverse-merger with SPAC Kensington Capital Corp.” They want to become an industry supply of electric vehicle batteries with their solid-state cells. Solid-state batteries are safer, hold more power, and are lower cost than common lithium-ion core batteries. QuantumScape’s prototypes have a solid ceramic electrolyte with a lithium-metal anode. This means faster charge times of 80 percent charge in 15 minutes and safer batteries. Top-of-the-line lithium-ion batteries have an energy density of 250Wh/kg, but solid-state batteries are over 400Wh/kg.

QuantumScape is backed by Volkswagen group, who made an additional $200 million investment in the U.S. battery company for this new technology. The batteries could be in production in 2024. “And it’s not just Volkswagen, venture backers include Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, and even The Qatar Investment Authority, the petro-nation's $320 billion sovereign wealth fund participated in the latest funding round.”

Image Credit: bp

bp and Equinor are forming a strategic partnership for offshore wind projects in the United States. The announcement comes only a month after bp announced its intent to increase investment in low carbon intiatives to about $5 billion per year and 20x its renewable power generation from 2.5 GW to 50 GW by 2030.

“Bernard Looney, bp’s chief executive, said: 'This is an important early step in the delivery of our new strategy and our pivot to truly becoming an integrated energy company. Offshore wind is growing at around 20% a year globally and is recognized as being a core part of meeting the world’s need to limit emissions. Equinor is a recognized sector leader and this partnership builds on a long history between our two companies. It will play a vital role in allowing us to deliver our aim of rapidly scaling up our renewable energy capacity, and in doing so help deliver the energy the world wants and needs.' ”

bp is also purchasing a 50% interest in Empire Wind and Beacon Wind from Equinor for $1.1 billion, with Equinor as continued operator. Empire Wind area is southeast of Long Island in about 80,000 acres. Phase 1 already has agreement as of July 2019. Beacon Wind is 128,000 acres of New England with a total capacity of 2.4GW, enough to power over a million households. The deal is expected to close early 2021.

Image Credit: gCaptain

“A Swedish consortium aims to launch commercially by 2025 a wind-driven car carrier that will emit 90% less carbon dioxide than a conventional roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) cargo ship, it said on Thursday.” With a 7,000 car capacity, it will be 200 meters long and 105 meters tall with its “wing sails” extended.

Crossing the North Atlantic would take about 12 days as opposed to about 8 days for a conventional ship. The wing sails work on the same principle as airplane wings. 90% emission reduction is based on about 10 knots of speed. Cost for the carrier shouldn’t be much more than a normal carrier, and the vessel will have fuel powered engines for port maneuvers and when the wind is weak. The vessel could be in operation by 2024.

Image Credit:

As the supermajors sprint to go green, five companies top the list. Increasing pressure from all sides to reduce emissions means “green-washing” is no longer an option. The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) is a voluntary alliance led by the CEOs of the biggest energy companies. “The initiative’s members include BP, Chevron, CNPC, Eni, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Occidental, Petrobras, Repsol, Saudi Aramco, Shell, and Total. Altogether, those companies account for over 30% of the world’s oil and gas production.” In 2019, 130 banks consisting of one-third of the world’s banks committed to the Paris Climate Agreement, marking a shift in the banks' focus on environmental factors of customers. These banks have combined assets of $47 trillion.

Major oil companies are getting on board, some slower than others. European companies have individual emissions targets, with some such as bp pledging net-zero by 2050. US supermajors Exxon and Chevron have been slower. This is the short list of the Top 5 oil and gas companies with the lowest carbon footprint plans according to the article, but please check out the original article for much more detail:

  1. Eni was the first major oil company to pledge net-zero carbon footprint in 2018.

  2. Equinor plans for ‘near-zero’ by 2050.

  3. Royal Dutch Shell wants to cut carbon emissions by 50% by 2050.

  4. REPSOL seeks to achieve net-zero by 2050 and could take a $5.3 billion hit in the process.

  5. bp has had a large carbon footprint in the past, and is making achieving net-zero by 2050 a major focus by becoming an Integrated Energy Company.

Image Credit: gCaptain

The Panama Canal is looking for a new water management system and is requesting qualifications from prospective contractors. 2019 was a very dry year for the canal, and current water conservation efforts are not enough. Water levels are projected to drop below operational levels, having a huge impact on customers. A new “fresh water surcharge” has been in place since February that could cost the shipping industry as much as $370 million per year. Reducing reservations has also kept the draft at 49 feet in the last few months.

Smile, its Good News Monday! :-)


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