That’s really impressive work. It’s amazing to see how far technology has come. However, I’m in agreement with you on their precarious market condition. The barriers for entry into this market are dropping fast. And “anyone” can do machine learning. Without specific IP or physical assets, what is their edge?
This is fascinating. I agree with the statement above though, the fundamental issue is one of trust. The public has already had a scare in recent times with the financial crisis and the US narrowly avoiding default on its liabilities. Moreover, the US is conspicuously absent from the list of countries developing digital currencies. Is that a coincidence? I would suggest that the US is in no rush to cede their position of leading global currency – US dollars are used around the world and the infrastructure (let alone trust) doesn’t exist for a digital currency to reach as extensively. Could physical and digital currencies be in circulation at the same time?
I agree with the privacy concerns noted above. Still, I think this has potential in the renovation and new-build market, particularly if it can be incorporated into efficiency certification. The step change that will be required, in my opinion, is automation and control of other energy intensive appliances. But Nest is certainly on the right path with machine learning – simply connecting devices to networks is useless if they aren’t automatically controlled – no one wants to spend that much time thinking about their home electricity.
I agree that changing human behaviour is a losing battle, but I wonder if penetration could be increased if there was a clear benefit to the physicians and their patients. The long term research benefits are clear, but that’s not a compelling case for change – can the system be adapted to offer benefits in real time?
Exxon has come out with the statement that they are an oil and gas company and won’t be engaging in the shift to renewables. Shell has implied the opposite, but as your post points out, hasn’t really taken steps in that direction. My question is, from an investor’s point of view, is that a bad thing? If I want to invest in renewable energy, there are many companies that will gladly take my money. If I want to invest in oil and gas, Shell is a great option. I don’t need Shell to diversify my portfolio for me. In fact, as oil and gas production declines, I may be happy for Shell to limit additional investment, operate out end of life assets, delist from the exchanges and pay out remaining equity to shareholders. That’s not necessarily a failure – that’s just market forces and it’s possibly a much better option for shareholders than risking capital on new projects outside Shell’s core competencies.
Silicon is expensive and PV needs it in large quantities. Shinsung is exposed to the risk that silicon prices will rise as production increases. It is always dangerous to extend the market dynamics in a nascent market directly to full scale operations. Massive adoption of PV may require very different business practices. Fortunately, this may happen sooner than they think: growth predictions have consistently been below actual growth rates as analysts predict linear growth while exponential is achieved. The graph from figure 4 shows that trend; time will tell who is right.
I agree GE is well positioned to provide manufacturing services to a growing renewable generation industry. They’ve taken steps all along their value chain to prepare. My only concern is a potential shift in the market which would lead to more distributed generation. GE has focused on large players – utility scale generation. Their business model would need to fundamentally change if the trend of residential and small commercial generation accelerates.
Nuclear is a contentious topic in the renewable energy world. Although it has advantages over intermittent competitors, it also has some significant drawbacks. In particular, Japan and Germany have both recently reduced their nuclear production. At any rate, it certainly doesn’t have the kind of public opinion tailwind that solar PV has. With the ageing of their fleet, Exelon has a new challenge on its hands as its business is dying of old age. High capital costs have kept competitors out, but apparently have also prevented new builds for them. Remember, the world is still building coal plants, so I think that the boost they’ll get from climate change goals won’t be enough to counteract the effects of an ageing fleet. They’ve got some work to do.
Toyota’s bet all depends on what technology will win out in passenger vehicle propulsion: batteries or fuel cells. Although fuel cells have a big advantage in their higher range – that really is a minor problem for many motorists. The average motorist only drives 40 miles per day and extended trips are much rarer. Will batteries be able to solve this problem for extended trips through improved charging or replacement batteries? Ultimately, either of these solutions requires a huge infrastructure investment and auto manufacturers would do well to team up to build it.