Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Minesto to Tap Wave Power in Caribbean

Several island states in the Caribbean have made great strides with renewable energy.  At their disposal is one of the greatest energy sources on the planet  -  the ocean.  In addition to the wave and tidal power in the ocean’s undulating body, the water captures thermal energy from the sun.  The International Energy Agency in Paris estimates there is potential to generate as much as 80,000 terawatt hours per year from the world’s ocean.  Bermuda bought two wave energy solutions from Sweden’s Seabased AB that are expected begin producing power by the end of 2019.  Aruba and Curacao are also working with SINN Power on wave energy technology applications.  

The big islands like Aruba are not the only ones to need energy alternatives.  Antigua and Barbuda are among the leeward islands in the West Indies, boasting white beaches, lush coral reefs and favorable sailing weather.  Most of the 80,000 people who live in on the two islands are involved with entertaining visitors to the tropical paradise.  Like all the other islands in the Caribbean Antigua and Barbuda are heavily reliant on imported fossil fuel to keep the island nation’s tourist trade humming.

In early 2019, the government of Antigua and Barbuda signed a memorandum of understanding with Sweden’s Minesto AB (7MN:  FRA) to study an alternative tidal power technology.  The United Nations is facilitating the study.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Capital for Small Nuclear Reactor

NuScale Power is in a new pact with South Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction Co. to support development of NuScale’s small modular reactor (SMR).  In addition to direct investment of $40 million in NuScale, Doosan has agreed to provide parts and equipment for the innovative nuclear power reactor valued at a total of $1.2 billion.

NuScale has been working on its power reactor for several years.  The new design is based on pressurized water reactor (PWR) technology that has been used to power nuclear submarines and naval vessels.  The design uses ordinary water as a coolant rather than ‘heavy’ water used by the large nuclear reactors in currently used to generate electricity.  Most importantly the PWR design is compact and thus has a lower capital cost than the typical reactor. 

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Capital for Carbon Capture

As is often the case in business, one person’s foolishness, is opportunity for another.  So it goes with carbon dioxide emissions.  About 21 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide are released each year through the combustion of fossil fuels.  Nature absorbs about half of that into leaves, grass, soil and water.  The rest ends up in the atmosphere, where it merges with other gases like ozone, methane and nitrous oxide to form an insulating cocoon around the planet.  As the sun heats the air during the day, it cannot escape through the gas cocoon, creating a ‘greenhouse’ effect.  The more fossil fuel burned, the more CO2, the greater the greenhouse effect and the more worrisome CO2 emissions become.

For Illinois-based LanzaTech all that harmful CO2 is just so much more feedstock for its carbon recycling technology.  The company is somewhat circumspect about its process.  Basically CO2 emissions are captured by the system at its source such as an industrial chimney or municipal solid waste incinerator.  Bacteria are introduced to the CO2 feed in some sort of reactor to convert the CO2 to ethanol, acetone and isopropyl alcohol.  In the past, LanzaTech discussion had mentioned something about microbes from rabbits, but bunnies are not a part of the company’s corporate promotion these days.  What is very much the buzz about LanzaTech these days is a $72 million investment by Novo Holdings AS.  

Friday, August 02, 2019

Gevo's Soil Amendment

In a series that began in March 2019, with the article titled “Vagants on the Earth,”  we looked companies offering products that address the building problem of top soil degradation and loss.  In the four articles that followed we explored forestation technology, environmentally-friendly timber harvesting, and modern soil fallowing programs.  Unfortunately, we found few companies where investors could get involved quickly as minority investors.  Another company has joined the movement to build topsoil.  This one has publicly traded stock!
Last week Gevo Corporation (GEVO: Nasdaq) announced commencement of a trial for a soil treatment at its Luverne, Minnesota facility.  The treatment developed by Locus Agriculture Solutions (Locus AG)is aimed at improving soil health for greater crop productivity.  Of course, Gevo is interested in improving corn crop yields for feedstock used in its isbutanol, renewable gasoline and jet fuel production.  However, the nature of Locus’ soil treatment technology as a non-petroleum based fertilizer will also give Gevo bragging rights to a smaller carbon footprint.