A. Judge

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On December 1, 2017, A. Judge commented on Protectionism Threatens to Cripple US Solar: Spotlight on Sunrun :

Fantastic article on the effects of isolationist policies on the solar market in the US, as expected from an acclaimed Harbus contributor.

While I think you pose some fantastic pro’s and con’s on the impact of tariffs on importation of solar products for Sunrun, I’d be interested in understanding better what advantages the tariffs pose for the US solar market holistically. Additionally, I wonder what impact things like net-metering and subsidization of solar products has on the market as well. Subsidization has an obvious effect of reducing upfront costs of solar installations for consumers; but through net-metering, households could sell back electricity they produce to the grid – further reducing cost of ownership to the consumer.

If legislatures can offset the negative impact of tariffs with more beneficial legislation for the solar industry such as net-metering and further subsidization, I would think the end consumer may see additional benefits beyond what they observe today.

Isolationism and investment banking – certainly an interesting combination. When I worked in banking, our goal was to connect people with capital, and it’s very clear to see through your article that isolationism creates impediments to this. While I do think this could be viewed as an challenge, I think it also poses an opportunity. Banks willing to be flexible and adapt to the ever changing global market will have reduced competition in environments that are increasingly isolated from the world economy. This enables those banks that are able to navigate these barriers to entry effectively to have a competitive advantage to their peers. To this end, I think JPM’s efforts in adapting to isolationist moves such as BREXIT shows their resilience in ensuring their long-term sustainability on the world stage.

On December 1, 2017, A. Judge commented on A Perfect Fit: 3D Printing Custom Medical Devices :

Thank you for sharing your thoughts in this article. I also agree that the opportunity 3D printing presents in the medical industry is huge. I know that advancements have been made to decrease the cost of customized prosthesis, which now enables them to more directly compete with less advanced offerings; but I would be interested to see how the cost of 3D printing implants and other medical devices has changed over time in relation to their legacy alternatives. I think as the technology advances these costs can only decrease, which enables companies not only to reduce inventory carrying costs of such devices but enables for customization to better serve customers. The question I have is whether this will be gradual with the continued penetration of 3D printing technology in the overall marketplace, or if there is some catalyst in the medical industry that will enable these devices to advance at a faster pace.

On December 1, 2017, A. Judge commented on Blockchain to Transform Energy Commodity Trading Industry? :

Great article. I myself wrote on the same topic!

I think you pose some fantastic questions. One of the key questions I think is whether the companies forging the way on the development of these technologies will have a true first-mover advantage that will create a sustainable competitive advantage. If not, their investment in developing these technologies, while reducing their costs overall, won’t provide them a better footing compared to late entrants who are able to use the technology once it’s fully commercialized. That’s why I believe many companies aren’t investing in the technology at this stage.

I do however believe that first-mover advantage could translate into sustainable competitive advantage in a few ways. One, the first mover will play a part in shaping how regulation is formed for this technology. This enables the first-mover to create regulation that benefits their business specifically, which could provide a sustainable competitive advantage. Additionally, the first-mover has the opportunity to create IP, through patent protection of their technology, that they could then license to others interested in benefiting from operational benefits of the smart contract technology. This could result in millions made in licensing revenues for the company. Alternatively, the company could protect the IP and keep it for themselves in an effort to take over market share.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on my comments!

I personally believe that economics will trump Trump’s stance on the Paris Climate Accord. Natural gas continues to be a more economic source of energy and also benefits from a lower levelized cost of energy. Power generation companies are switching more to natural gas for this reason, so despite Trump’s actions we will likely see continued declines in energy production from coal.

One question I have for you on the statistics you provided is how they measure on a per energy production basis. While I think assessing statistics of CO2 generation holistically is important, I think we also have to look at it on a basis of how much energy is created from that CO2. As you stated, the coal industry in the US produces 26 times more GHG emissions than Canadian oil sands, but how much energy do each of those sources generate. When you normalize these based on a per energy unit basis, you get a more realistic comparison of true emissions characteristics. That being said, I have no doubt that petroleum products, including oil sands, likely produce less emissions on a per energy unit basis than coal; but I would be interested to see the numbers (if you can find them).

All-in-all, I’m glad to see that companies like Suncor are taking their charge to lower emissions seriously, and are applying new innovations to do so! Thanks for sharing!

On December 1, 2017, A. Judge commented on Royal Dutch Shell: From Hydrocarbons to Electrons :

Great post. I think it really displays how the major integrated energy companies of the world are pivoting to view themselves more as energy companies holistically. While I do think providing a system for electric vehicles to charge is a key component for enabling the transition from hydrocarbons to more renewable resources, we still have to remember where the electricity from the grid comes from today. Around 58% of total OECD electricity generation came from fossil fuels in 2016. This means that roughly 3 out of every 5 miles being driven by an EV are being fueled by hydrocarbons, with a good portion still coming from coal. The good news from an environmental perspective is that more and more coal is being replaced by natural gas in the energy mix and that growth in renewable resources is increasing. I will be interested to see in the coming years if Shell and other major oil and gas companies make significant investments in R&D or acquisition of technologies that improve the growth of these renewable resources in order to advance hydrocarbon replacement and truly position them as energy companies, not oil and gas companies.