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The perception of AI has evolved from a research-oriented domain to an applied field with tangible real-world applications. In light of the increasing demand for AI systems, major cloud providers have found themselves in an opportune position to capitalise on their market concentration. The substantial financial resources allocated to AI research and development carry an inherent risk, the risk is that AI applications and the accompanying hardware infrastructure do not yield significant returns or practical utility. The fast-paced AI landscape will favour hardware infrastructure that is adaptable and capable of supporting constant advancements. The rationale behind the trend of scaling up large language models primarily stems from the observation that larger models tend to exhibit emergent abilities, which have the potential to revolutionise AI applications. In the grand scheme of things, the real beneficiaries of this technological trend will be the infrastructure providers who facilitate the deployment, scalability, and accessibility of these models. The potential benefits of large language models hint that we are slowly entering a new era of lower gross margins for the sake of improved user experience. Companies who aren't offering AI as a service and are solely developing products by accessing models from larger players like Google and OpenAI are likely to experience the most pressure on their margins. We perceive the next big step to be coupling LLMs with external tools like APIs, browsing the web or using them to execute instructions in applications (e.g. robotics), thereby broadening their application in the AI space.
In this Part III of our series on Lithium, we seek to better understand two major themes that seem unrelated in appearance but should be more and more: (i) Industrial and vertical integration strategies within the value chain. (ii) ESG considerations and innovative solutions. Ecosystems around lithium should evolve significantly and allow the emergence of new innovative players. Lithium is a very good example of the disruption of traditional industries by new entrants and an inevitable process of vertical integration. There is every reason to believe that Big Lithium will be made up of players we barely heard of twenty years ago: Tesla, CATL, BYD, Albemarle, SQM and others in this value chain.
Lithium-ion technologies are accepted as the most suitable due to their historically low costs and high energy densities, as well as their growth in production allowing for scale effects. Lithium is a very good example of the disruption of traditional industries by new entrants and an inevitable process of vertical integration. The Big Lithium is Underway is intended to give you a synthetic view of all the topics around the lithium value chain that we have addressed in the three parts of this series: 1. Lithium Part I - What Difference Does It Make? focuses on the reasons behind the dominance of lithium-ion batteries as well as the battery cost hurdles to reach the mass market. 2. Lithium Part II – Just Can't Get Enough looks at the element lithium, its different characteristics and the different forms that deposits can take. We also try to understand the mismatches that can occur in lithium supply and demand and the implications this may have on the transition from internal combustion vehicles to electric vehicles. 3. Lithium Part III – Together in Electric Dreams (released soon) Seeks to better understand two major themes that seem unrelated in appearance, but which should be more and more: (i) Industrial and vertical integration strategies within the value chain and (ii) ESG considerations and innovative solutions. There is every reason to believe that Big Lithium will be made up of players we barely heard of twenty years ago.
In this Part III of Clean Oceans, we continue our exploration of the oceans. After studying tidal energy, we will focus on understanding how other types of energy available through the oceans work. In a first section, we will describe the different types of MRE, as well as their operation (excluding tidal energy which was the subject of the previous note Tide is High Part II). Then, in a second section, we will try to evaluate the potential of all these MRE in terms of TWh/year. Finally, in the third section, we will look at the paradox between the phenomenal potential of MREs and their very low current exploitation. We will try to analyze this paradox and understand the reasons.
In this new publication, we aim to go into the details of two major topics that we believe are essential to analyse in order to understand the implications of lithium on the further down part of the value chain. In the first section, we look at the element lithium, its different characteristics and the different forms that deposits can take. Indeed, the latter has many consequences on the entire value chain. In the second section, we will try to understand the mismatches that can occur in lithium supply and demand and the implications this may have on the transition from internal combustion vehicles to electric vehicles. We also discuss through unconventional deposits and the development of new extraction technologies to transform resources into reserves. Battery chemistry where lithium is replaced by sodium or potassium might be alternatives to reduce electrification dependence to lithium.
Lithium-ion technologies are accepted as the most suitable due to their historically low costs and high energy densities, as well as their growth in production allowing for scale effects. Many efforts have contributed to the cost reduction that underlies the observed price decline, but the contributions of these efforts and their relative importance remain unclear. Lithium-ion battery prices, which were above $1100/kWh in 2010, fell 89% in real terms to $132/kWh in 2021 and could be around $100/kWh in 2023. Pack prices below $100/kWh are critical because it is around this level that automakers should be able to produce and sell mass market EVs at the same price as internal combustion vehicles. In any case, lithium is valuable because it is both the lightest metal and the least dense solid element offering a high power-to-weight ratio, critical when it comes to transport.
Tidal power is a form of hydroelectricity that converts tidal energy into electrical energy. The power available for tidal power generation in a given area may be greater than that of a wind turbine due to the higher density of water. The first advantage of tidal turbines, and of tidal energy in general, is its predictability. Moreover, that they are not visible (in the case of tidal turbines standing on the seabed), because they are completely submerged under water. The tidal turbine sector faces four key challenges : energy cost, availability, environmental impact, energy transport. The technology required for tidal power is well developed, and the main barrier to increased use of the tides is construction costs. The demand for electricity on a power grid varies with the time of day and the electricity supply from a tidal power station will never match the demand from a system. But this source of energy will be able to replace, in part, the electricity which would otherwise be produced by fossil fuel power stations. The global potential for tidal energy is enormous (tidal turbines and dams). The World Energy Council estimates that up to 1,000 GW of ocean power could be installed by 2050, equivalent to half the world's current coal capacity.
This Part I aims to be generalist without going into the details of more specific issues that we will try to address in subsequent publications. Focusing only on the specific link related to the subject would lead us to potentially evade decisive issues that may influence or arise from the central subject. In future publications, it seems interesting to us to look more deeply into the following areas, even if by pulling the thread new themes will certainly emerge: Production of electrolysers, players, technological and competitive environment ; Hydrogen producers by energy source, infrastructure needs in production, storage and transport of green energy for the production of hydrogen ; Hydrogen demand, more detailed trends, industrial players and limits ; The future of fossil players faced with the challenges of hydrogen.
The question of “best effort” versus “best in class” arises for heavy industries. They are ranked among the worst ESG performers in the world, and the materials they produce are closely linked to their carbon footprint. Is there a fatality for players in cement, aggregates, mortars and other heavy materials related to construction and infrastructure? Should the steel industry, the other big dirty sector in the world, suffer the same fate? To ensure the energy transition, we need these heavy materials industries just as we need the mining industry, so the answer is in the question. The rapid emergence of solutions to extract excess CO2 from the atmosphere raises essential questions about measures to advance these technologies. CCUS projects are on track to extract more than 550 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, globally, each year by 2030.
This editorial is the first in a long series dedicated to the preservation of the Oceans This first publication has no other ambition than to draw up a factual observation of the dramatic damage that the oceans have suffered for years under the effect of human activity, from the use of fossil fuels to overfishing. At the end of this long list of the damage that man does to his oceans, we will focus on defining the measures that are already taken, and that remain to be taken, to save our oceans, We will also try, in terms of ecological transition, to determine to what extent the ingenuity of man could make it possible to generate clean energy through the phenomenal and eternal energy that the oceans provide. We are talking about marine energy. A wide variety of technologies can be used. All these themes will be part of a series of Editos to come in the coming weeks.
A limited number of coal-fired power plants are still under construction in advanced economies. In Asia, their number is growing rapidly and represents 90% of new coal-fired electricity generation capacity in the world for the past 20 years. The solutions for less CO2 emissions are multiple. The most radical will tip the scales as much as possible towards degrowth without taking into consideration the economic and social effects induced by it. In this publication, we focus on some of the aspects, not as unique solutions, but rather as illustrations in the universe of possibilities. Industrial production is essential to a modern economy. However, a modern production strategy must be driven by industry and for industry. Energy efficiency is often forgotten in the discourse, or even treated as a limited and declining (Ricardian) resource.
In this Part III of Living in The Plastic Age, we stay in the world of polymers, but on a smaller scale in unit size, but not necessarily volume and especially in current and future damage, that of plastic microparticles. We offer you an approach very centred on the textile sector, even if it is not the only one responsible for this form of invisible marine pollution. These microplastics come significantly from textiles and clothing, but also from plastic packaging that eventually erodes into smaller pieces and inevitably into the equivalent of grains of sand over time.
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