3 Top Energy Stocks to Buy Right Now | The Motley Fool

A global liquefied natural gas (LNG) glut, declining gas prices, project permitting stalls, and coronavirus concerns are only a few of the factors that have been weighing on energy markets and the companies within the underperforming sector.

But a Canadian pipeline builder, an LNG player, and a renewable fuel business could still be great additions to your portfolio. Here’s why investors should take a look at Enbridge (NYSE:ENB), Cheniere Energy Partners (NYSEMKT:CQP), and Clean Energy Fuels (NASDAQ:CLNE)

A worker stands in front of an energy project.

Image source: Getty Images.

New projects boosting cash flow

Enbridge, a Canadian oil and gas pipeline operator, seems like a good buy right now based on management’s actions to shore up the company’s financial footing and new projects put into service. Enbridge’s management attributes recent earnings improvement to a focus on a “low risk pipeline-utility model,” following through with asset sales, completing a three-year balance sheet strengthening plan, and starting up $9 billion worth of new revenue-producing assets over the course of the year.

In Q4 alone the company launched more than $7 billion in projects, including the Gray Oak pipeline and the German Hohe See offshore wind project, which represent a combined investment of nearly $2 billion for the company. The assets have long lives and contracts that should set investors up for long-term stable revenues.

Enbridge also recently showed improvement in its full year 2019 distributable cash flow (DCF), which increased to more than $9.2 billion from more than $7.6 billion in 2018, and it guided longer-term DCF growth in the range of 5% to 7%. The improvement could be the start of positive upswing following years of building new projects, the true extent of which hasn’t been seen since the projects have less than a year of operating history. 

Over the past year, the Canada-based company has underperformed the S&P 500, up roughly 15 percentage points. It is aiming for continued improvement with another $11 billion of what it characterizes as “secured organic growth projects” it will fund with equity. The company expects these projects to add “considerable EBITDA” as they come online, and management pointed out 2022 financial metrics may be higher than its target range based on these initiaitives and the chance of more non-core asset sales.

The company is an attractive option for the income investor based on a dividend yield at more than 5.7% and the company’s plan to increase its dividend by 9.8% for 2020. It is important for investors to note, however, that despite recent improvements, there is significant work remaining, since the company’s debt-to-equity ratio stands at more than 94%.  

LNG projects moving into operating stage

Cheniere Energy Partners is the operating partner of Cheniere Energy (NYSEMKT:LNG), a developer of LNG export projects in Texas and Louisiana. Cheniere is the marquee name in the US LNG export game in terms of scale and its early mover status on getting projects built and running.

Investing at the partnership level rather than the Cheniere Energy level may be preferable for some investors because it pays a dividend, recently yielding nearly 7%, even as the company continues to work with its general partner to expand its Corpus Christi and Sabine Pass projects. 

Shares of Cheniere Energy Partners were down roughly 15 percentage points over the past year, as earnings disappointed investors. However it is important to note that at the partnership level cash flow is typically seen as the key metric. In late January, the company said it would pay a cash distribution of $0.63 per share, which works out to $2.52 annually, within its guidance in the range of $2.55 to $2.65 for the year. 

In addition, one of the things that recently hurt revenue and EBITDA is higher operating costs and expenses, primarily as a result of putting projects into initial service. But it is not unusual for the initial start-up period known as “commissioning” to be a rocky time for projects as massive as Cheniere’s, and the situation may stabilize as the projects log more operating time and early kinks are resolved.

Cheniere’s management has also said that because it sells the majority of its LNG under long-term “take-or-pay” contracts, it has experienced losses linked to changes in fair value of derivative contracts to purchase natural gas for liquefaction, and the company should be expected to experience gains and losses associated with the underlying commodities related to forward gas contracts. 

So quarterly and even yearly ups and downs should be of little concern to the long-term investor considering a company that sees revenue contracted for periods as long as 20 years. It is important for investors to note, however, that Cheniere Energy Partners continues to carry a high debt burden, with a debt-to-total capital ratio of more than 96%, and this can be expected to remain as long as projects remain in construction. But the company has a solid record of opportunistically seeking refinancing in recent years, however, and has made progress in getting better terms. 

Renewable fuels gaining traction

Clean Energy Fuels (NASDAQ:CLNE) provides natural gas fuel and renewable natural gas fuel for the transportation industry in the U.S. and Canada, with a network of approximately 540 stations across North America that its owns or operates. The company is seeing sales pick up on its Redeem renewable commercial vehicle fuel, which reported a 30% boost in deliveries for 2019. It also got positive news when the federal production tax credit for renewable energy was extended at the end of last year. 

Clean Energy Fuels has outperformed the S&P 500 over the past year, up more than 40 percentage points, but that number should be taken with a grain of salt since share price is is down more than 80 percentage points over the past decade. More important for the longer-term investor is the company’s recent customer acquisitions, some which add several years of recurring revenue under contracts. This is the case with the company’s seven-year contract with UPS (NYSE:UPS) for 170 million gallons of fuel for its fleet of heavy-duty trucks.

Clean Energy Fuels does not yet pay a dividend, but has the potential to be a great growth play as contracted revenue increases. Over the past year the company has reached multi-year deals for Redeem fuel with additional corporations and other entities, including shuttle and bus operators, rental car businesses, a country Department of Public Works, and several California municipalities. The company also unveiled a plan to exclusively offer its zero-carbon Redeem fuel at all its stations by 2025, a timeline it says will beat other competing alternative fuels initiatives, which it estimates may not reach the zero-carbon finish line until 2045.

In the near term the company may face an uphill battle convincing certain companies to transition to natural gas as a transportation fuel, particularly in an environment in which oil is relatively cheap. But the company’s fuel contracts should continue to see new interest in regions with stringent environmental standards and as corporations continue to increase their use of renewables and work to decrease their carbon footprints, as they have in the case of corporate renewable power

 

Where to Store (and Invest In) All That Solar and Wind Power | The Motley Fool

Renewable energy is hardly a new concept — windmills have been used for more than 13 centuries, and I’ve been harnessing the power of the sun for years with solar-powered lights in my yard. However, over the past decade, major government efforts like the Paris Climate Agreement have presented ambitious plans to make our world less reliant on carbon-emitting sources of energy. Since then, wind and solar farms have been developed on a massive scale.

However, one key challenge for renewable energy is how to effectively store it to be used later, when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining. Companies that can solve that problem effectively and at scale could be big winners for investors.

An installation of solar panels, with a modular battery energy storage system and a wind turbine system in the background.

Image Source: Getty Images.

Storage options

Today, traditional lithium-ion batteries are the most commonly used energy-storage technology. However, there are concerns that they aren’t scalable enough to effectively turn intermittently produced renewable energy into steadily available baseload power for the grid. Among the issues are the limits of battery capacity, imperfect efficiency when releasing the stored energy to the grid, and the lifespans of batteries. Organizations like Breakthrough Energy Ventures are investing heavily in developing energy-storage alternatives that address some of those issues and may also have a lower environmental impact than batteries. Among the methods being explored are pumping water into pools or pressurized wells, storing energy as compressed air, synthesizing methane, or even stacking concrete blocks

Who to watch in renewable energy storage

NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) is a Florida-based utility and a major producer of wind and solar power that’s heavily investing in energy storage projects. One of its subsidiaries, NextEra Energy Resources, produces more than two-thirds of its energy from wind and solar. It currently has 140 megawatts of battery storage, and plans to add 700 megawatts to 1400 megawatts of projects over the next three years. (A 1 MW solar farm produces enough electricity to power about 1,000 homes.) While the company has mentioned research and development in non-battery storage technologies, the majority of its projects still utilize lithium-ion batteries.

The company’s revenues have been fairly flat (around $16 billion annually over the past five years), however, net income and return on assets are trending upward — even with continued spending on developing large projects. This shows these projects are indeed contributing to the company’s overall profits. From a valuation standpoint, its price-to-earnings ratio of 34.47 is in line with the utility industry’s average of 32.43, while its price-to-sales ratio of 6.77 is well above the industry average of 2.83. While this stock is not cheap, its ongoing investments in renewable energy and storage do seem to be paying off.

General Electric (NYSE:GE) is showing signs of a slow turnaround with a new CEO and a more-focused business strategy. GE Power continues to be a key unit for the conglomerate, with renewable energy and more importantly, energy storage offering it high potential. Back in 2018, it launched the GE Reservoir project — at the time, the company claimed the GE Reservoir Storage Units boosted the lifespan of lithium-ion battery by 15%, increased efficiency by 5%, and lowered installation times.

Currently, there are more than 207 MWh of Reservoir projects either in operation or under construction. The renewable energy segment accounts for less than 8% of General Electric’s overall revenues, and its profitability is questionable as the company took several impairment write-offs for it in 2018. However, GE stock is modestly priced (with a P/S ratio of 0.85), and given the market’s hopes for the company’s new leadership and direction, this may be a good time to buy before things heat up.

Tesla‘s (NASDAQ:TSLA) energy generation and storage business installed more than 1 GW of storage capacity in 2018 and set a goal of doubling that in 2019. This segment still contributes less than 10% of overall company revenue, and between 5% and 10% of net income. However, Tesla aims to become less dependent on partner Panasonic to manufacture its battery cells, and its efforts to increase battery life cannot be ignored. This stock is still terribly volatile and the company continues to struggle with profitability, however, it deserves additional attention for its energy-storage efforts.

Betting on batteries broadly

For now, the lithium-ion battery remains the king of the hill in energy storage, and this market is expected to grow worldwide at a compound annual rate of 15.2% through 2025. In addition, the markets for key battery metals lithium, manganese, and cobalt are forecast to grow by upwards of 17.5% annually. 

  • Albemarle (NYSE:ALB) is a major producer of lithium and a key supplier in the U.S. and China. Based on its most recent financial reports, its performance is relatively stable and the stock does not appear to be overvalued.
  • Demand for lithium and other related battery metals is only expected to increase. Therefore investing in those sectors more broadly via funds such as the Global X Lithium & Battery Tech ETF (NYSEMKT:LIT) or the Market Vectors Rare Earth/Strategic Metals ETF (NYSEMKT:REMX) wouldn’t be a bad bet.
  • The Amplify Advanced Battery Metals and Materials ETF (NYSEMKT:BATT), which debuted in 2018, holds an international portfolio of mining and metals companies. Given its short history, it lacks a track record, but it does capture the broader market for battery manufacturing.

Here’s where Jeff Bezos could start spending that $10 billion on climate

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced Monday he would donate $10 billion to combat climate change, marking one of the largest individual philanthropic commitments ever to the crucial environmental challenge.

The details: “This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs – any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world,” Bezos, the world’s richest person, said in an Instagram post unveiling the Bezos Earth Fund.

It appears he will donate the money to researchers and advocacy groups, rather than investing it into startups and other for-profit ventures tackling climate change, Axios reported. The money will come out of his personal fortune, not from Amazon (though never fear, it won’t make much of a dent in his roughly $130 billion net worth).

How should he spend it?: Clearly, the impact of those funds will heavily depend on where, when and how he puts the money to work. Bezos said he’ll begin issuing grants this summer, but didn’t provide any additional details on the specific areas he intends to focus on.

Not that he asked, but for our money, Bezos’ largess may provide the biggest bang by targeting two main areas: First, supporting groups lobbying for policies like carbon taxes, subsidies or emissions mandates that would accelerate the rollout of existing clean energy technologies like solar, wind and electric vehicles, or directly backing the politicians pushing them. Second, funding early stage academic or national lab research and development in areas where we still haven’t developed affordable and scalable ways of eliminating or canceling out the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change.

Those could include: large-scale energy storage technologies to balance out fluctuations in wind, solar and other clean energy sources; methods for reducing climate pollution from fertilizers, livestock and other parts of our agricultural systems; and improved tools for capturing emissions from power plants and factories, or removing it from the atmosphere and permanently storing it.

Growing climate pressures: Bezos is adopting a different approach from Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, the world’s second richest individual, on climate issues. In 2016, Gates created a $1 billion climate fund with other major investors dedicated to supporting startups already developing products that could address some of the hardest technical challenges in clean energy. 

The creation of the Bezos Earth Fund comes as a growing number of major businesses unveil plans to curb or offset emissions, amid mounting pressures from investors, politicians and the public. Indeed, Amazon has faced growing criticism from its own employees, as well as outside activists, for not doing nearly enough so far to address the rising dangers of climate change.

Why Data is So Important for Sustainable Buildings to Thrive

It’s no secret that buildings produce a massive amount of carbon emissions. In 2018, commercial and residential buildings accounted for approximately 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption. While this issue persists, it’s important to take action and identify ways we can achieve carbon neutrality to mitigate building-related carbon emissions. In fact, over 70 cities across the world have accepted the challenge to become completely carbon neutral by 2050.

For sustainable buildings, compliance and data go hand-in-hand

To comply with local laws in states and municipalities across the United States, real estate developers, owners, and property managers are adopting practices that keep in line with this trend. It’s imperative to keep building operations efficient while implementing cost-effective, yet impactful upgrades that reduce building emissions. With real-time energy management, managing a property and achieving sustainability goals doesn’t have to be so overwhelming.

Through the use of an ongoing energy management service, operations and maintenance staff can leverage data to identify opportunities that can reduce energy waste and maximize the performance of each piece of equipment. Many successful building operators of newly constructed and older buildings depend on the use of state-of-the-art data analysis and expert technical support to turn that data into action. Without this, building operators may simply waste time and money on equipment that doesn’t run properly. An ongoing, real-time energy management service can help buildings meet their sustainability goals by:

Three keys for optimizing the performance of sustainable buildings

Optimizing All Equipment. To ensure optimal equipment efficiency, it’s important to know a building’s equipment schedule. Fans, valves, and compressors could be operating 24/7, even when a building is closed, or the space is not in use. It’s important for building managers to re-program and evaluate equipment based on the goals of the spaces they serve. Not only does unnecessarily running equipment waste energy, but it also decreases the life of the equipment – leading to more money spent in the long-run.

The good news is that equipment optimization is easy to do when the systems are connected to a building management system (BMS) and an expert is analyzing the data in real time. For example, if an office space is closed from 10 pm to 7 am, it would be wise to create a schedule on the BMS that would shut off air handler units during those hours. An expert would then monitor the data after the change to ensure the new schedule had the desired effect.

Strengthening Building Performance. To increase the overall performance of a building and achieve peak efficiency, we must understand each building’s specific needs. Instead of overriding equipment into manual operations at the first sight of a miniscule problem or a complaint, a plan should be implemented by the operations team. Having a plan in place, especially if there is site team turnover or new equipment that requires training to operate, is crucial to ensuring effective systems-level operation.

And when an urgent issue does arise, the plan will provide clear instructions on how to respond, allowing the building operator to quickly solve the problem with confidence, or know whom to contact from their energy management team for guidance. This type of plan can be created with guidance from an energy management professional who understands the goals of the building, the needs of its occupants, and the sustainability goals of the building owner.

Streamlining Operations. When it comes to implementing a BMS to enable more effective real-time energy management, it’s important for all staff members to be trained quickly and effectively for optimal efficiency. After all, a piece of equipment is only effective if you know how to properly use it! Training could include shedding light on how to holistically navigate the system, how to change set points and manage schedules, the importance of moving away from changing set points locally on each piece of equipment to changing set points in the BMS, and explaining how each of the systems interact.

Perhaps the most essential piece of training is to explain why. By articulating the impact on cost, equipment function, and ease of management for the team, the message will mean more than instructions in a manual. The team will understand the influence of their actions and how they affect the entire building and its occupants.

With the increase of emerging laws and regulations, we’re seeing more of a global commitment to achieve carbon neutrality. In order to do so, we must take the necessary steps to keep our buildings sustainable. Real-time energy management has a myriad of benefits, allowing a building to ensure optimal systems performance, reduce operating costs, and improve occupant comfort – all while making the world a better place!

Written by Samantha Pearce, Director of Energy Management Services at Bright Power and Kevin Connolly, Energy Engineer at Bright Power.

Image credit: Scott Webb/Pexels

BP has announced a “net zero” emissions plan

A growing number of oil and gas companies are trumpeting plans to cut their greenhouse-gas emissions amid mounting pressure from investors, policymakers, and a public concerned about climate change—or the financial risks it poses to the sector.

In the latest move, BP announced its “ambition” on Wednesday to eliminate emissions from its operations, as well as from the oil and gas it directly extracts, by 2050. That would add up to more than 400 million metric tons of annual carbon dioxide emissions.

“It directly addresses all the carbon we get out of the ground,” just-appointed CEO Bernard Looney said in a statement.

The company says it will provide greater detail on the plan in September, but Looney did say during a press conference that it will entail gradually reducing BP’s fossil fuel production.

Achieving these targets would also require a major shift to clean energy sources, and likely planting trees or other methods of absorbing carbon dioxide from the air. Any remaining users of BP’s oil and gas products in 2050 would have to install systems for capturing emissions from their plants, factories, or vehicles.

Renewable sources like wind, solar, and biofuels currently only represent a tiny fraction of the company’s operations or investments.

There is still one emissions gap in the plan. BP will only strive to halve the “carbon intensity” of the oil or gas that other companies produce, but which it purchases, processes and resells. (Carbon intensity refers to the level of emissions per unit of energy.)

As Bloomberg notes, only Repsol’s emissions targets seem to go further than BP’s at this stage, among the major oil and gas firms. In December, the Spanish company announced plans to fully decarbonize by 2050, including any emissions produced when customers use its products.

By way of comparison, Royal Dutch Shell has said it would cut the emissions intensity of its products 20% by 2035 and about 50% by 2050. France’s Total announced plans to cut emissions from its operations and energy use by at least 6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2025.

Other parts of BP’s plan include increasing investments outside of oil and gas; creating new business divisions focused on things like innovation and low-carbon energy; and installing monitors to detect leaks of methane, an especially potent greenhouse gas, at its sites. (BP is one of the world’s largest producers of natural gas, which is primarily made up of methane.) 

But ultimately, the energy sector still needs to cut emissions much faster to avoid dangerous levels of climate change.

An analysis by Carbon Tracker in November found that major oil and gas producers need to slash collective production 35% by 2040—and some as much as 85%—to achieve the core goal of the Paris climate agreement: preventing global temperatures from soaring past a disastrous 2 ˚C of warming. Instead, the sector continues to pour hundreds of billions of dollars into projects to tap into new reserves of fossil fuels.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that BP’s goals didn’t cover indirect emissions, as when customers combust the fuels it extracts. The story was modified throughout to reflect that change, as was the headline.

Chief Scientist: we need to transform our world into a sustainable 'electric planet'

I want you to imagine a highway exclusively devoted to delivering the world’s energy.

Each lane is restricted to trucks that carry one of the world’s seven large-scale sources of primary energy: coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, solar and wind.

Our current energy security comes at a price, the carbon dioxide emissions from the trucks in the three busiest lanes: the ones for coal, oil and natural gas.

We can’t just put up roadblocks overnight to stop these trucks; they are carrying the overwhelming majority of the world’s energy supply.

But what if we expand clean electricity production carried by the trucks in the solar and wind lanes — three or four times over — into an economically efficient clean energy future?

Think electric cars instead of petrol cars. Think electric factories instead of oil-burning factories. Cleaner and cheaper to run. A technology-driven orderly transition. Problems wrought by technology, solved by technology.


Read more: How to transition from coal: 4 lessons for Australia from around the world


Make no mistake, this will be the biggest engineering challenge ever undertaken. The energy system is huge, and even with an internationally committed and focused effort the transition will take many decades.

It will also require respectful planning and retraining to ensure affected individuals and communities, who have fuelled our energy progress for generations, are supported throughout the transition.

As Tony, a worker from a Gippsland coal-fired power station, noted from the audience on this week’s Q+A program:

The workforce is highly innovative, we are up for the challenge, we will adapt to whatever is put in front of us and we have proven that in the past.

This is a reminder that if governments, industry, communities and individuals share a vision, a positive transition can be achieved.

The stunning technology advances I have witnessed in the past ten years make me optimistic.

Renewable energy is booming worldwide, and is now being delivered at a markedly lower cost than ever before.

In Australia, the cost of producing electricity from wind and solar is now around A$50 per megawatt-hour.

Even when the variability is firmed with storage, the price of solar and wind electricity is lower than existing gas-fired electricity generation and similar to new-build coal-fired electricity generation.

This has resulted in substantial solar and wind electricity uptake in Australia and, most importantly, projections of a 33% cut in emissions in the electricity sector by 2030, when compared to 2005 levels.

And this pricing trend will only continue, with a recent United Nations report noting that, in the last decade alone, the cost of solar electricity fell by 80%, and is set to drop even further.

So we’re on our way. We can do this. Time and again we have demonstrated that no challenge to humanity is beyond humanity.

Ultimately, we will need to complement solar and wind with a range of technologies such as high levels of storage, long-distance transmission, and much better efficiency in the way we use energy.

But while these technologies are being scaled up, we need an energy companion today that can react rapidly to changes in solar and wind output. An energy companion that is itself relatively low in emissions, and that only operates when needed.

In the short term, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison and energy minister Angus Taylor have previously stated, natural gas will play that critical role.

In fact, natural gas is already making it possible for nations to transition to a reliable, and relatively low-emissions, electricity supply.

Look at Britain, where coal-fired electricity generation has plummeted from 75% in 1990 to just 2% in 2019.

Driving this has been an increase in solar, wind, and hydro electricity, up from 2% to 27%. At the same time, and this is key to the delivery of a reliable electricity supply, electricity from natural gas increased from virtually zero in 1990 to more than 38% in 2019.

I am aware that building new natural gas generators may be seen as problematic, but for now let’s assume that with solar, wind and natural gas, we will achieve a reliable, low-emissions electricity supply.

Is this enough? Not really.

We still need a high-density source of transportable fuel for long-distance, heavy-duty trucks.

We still need an alternative chemical feedstock to make the ammonia used to produce fertilisers.

We still need a means to carry clean energy from one continent to another.

Enter the hero: hydrogen.

Hydrogen could fill the gaps in our energy needs. Julian Smith/AAP Image

Hydrogen is abundant. In fact, it’s the most abundant element in the Universe. The only problem is that there is nowhere on Earth that you can drill a well and find hydrogen gas.

Don’t panic. Fortunately, hydrogen is bound up in other substances. One we all know: water, the H in H₂O.

We have two viable ways to extract hydrogen, with near-zero emissions.

First, we can split water in a process called electrolysis, using renewable electricity.

Second, we can use coal and natural gas to split the water, and capture and permanently bury the carbon dioxide emitted along the way.

I know some may be sceptical, because carbon capture and permanent storage has not been commercially viable in the electricity generation industry.

But the process for hydrogen production is significantly more cost-effective, for two crucial reasons.

First, since carbon dioxide is left behind as a residual part of the hydrogen production process, there is no additional step, and little added cost, for its extraction.

And second, because the process operates at much higher pressure, the extraction of the carbon dioxide is more energy-efficient and it is easier to store.

Returning to the electrolysis production route, we must also recognise that if hydrogen is produced exclusively from solar and wind electricity, we will exacerbate the load on the renewable lanes of our energy highway.

Think for a moment of the vast amounts of steel, aluminium and concrete needed to support, build and service solar and wind structures. And the copper and rare earth metals needed for the wires and motors. And the lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese and other battery materials needed to stabilise the system.

It would be prudent, therefore, to safeguard against any potential resource limitations with another energy source.

Well, by producing hydrogen from natural gas or coal, using carbon capture and permanent storage, we can add back two more lanes to our energy highway, ensuring we have four primary energy sources to meet the needs of the future: solar, wind, hydrogen from natural gas, and hydrogen from coal.


Read more: 145 years after Jules Verne dreamed up a hydrogen future, it has arrived


Furthermore, once extracted, hydrogen provides unique solutions to the remaining challenges we face in our future electric planet.

First, in the transport sector, Australia’s largest end-user of energy.

Because hydrogen fuel carries much more energy than the equivalent weight of batteries, it provides a viable, longer-range alternative for powering long-haul buses, B-double trucks, trains that travel from mines in central Australia to coastal ports, and ships that carry passengers and goods around the world.

Second, in industry, where hydrogen can help solve some of the largest emissions challenges.

Take steel manufacturing. In today’s world, the use of coal in steel manufacturing is responsible for a staggering 7% of carbon dioxide emissions.

Persisting with this form of steel production will result in this percentage growing frustratingly higher as we make progress decarbonising other sectors of the economy.

Fortunately, clean hydrogen can not only provide the energy that is needed to heat the blast furnaces, it can also replace the carbon in coal used to reduce iron oxide to the pure iron from which steel is made. And with hydrogen as the reducing agent the only byproduct is water vapour.

This would have a revolutionary impact on cutting global emissions.

Third, hydrogen can store energy, not only for a rainy day, but also to ship sunshine from our shores, where it is abundant, to countries where it is needed.

Let me illustrate this point. In December last year, I was privileged to witness the launch of the world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier ship in Japan.

As the vessel slipped into the water I saw it not only as the launch of the first ship of its type to ever be built, but as the launch of a new era in which clean energy will be routinely transported between the continents. Shipping sunshine.

And, finally, because hydrogen operates in a similar way to natural gas, our natural gas generators can be reconfigured in the future to run on hydrogen — neatly turning a potential legacy into an added bonus.

Hydrogen-powered economy

We truly are at the dawn of a new, thriving industry.

There’s a nearly A$2 trillion global market for hydrogen come 2050, assuming that we can drive the price of producing hydrogen to substantially lower than A$2 per kilogram.

In Australia, we’ve got the available land, the natural resources, the technology smarts, the global networks, and the industry expertise.

And we now have the commitment, with the National Hydrogen Strategy unanimously adopted at a meeting by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments late last year.

Indeed, as I reflect upon my term as Chief Scientist, in this my last year, chairing the development of this strategy has been one of my proudest achievements.

The full results will not be seen overnight, but it has sown the seeds, and if we continue to tend to them, they will grow into a whole new realm of practical applications and unimagined possibilities.


This is an edited extract of a speech to the National Press Club of Australia on February 12, 2020. The full speech is available here.

This Solar Device Converts Seawater to Drinking Water

<p><a href=”https://ricochet.media/en/2920/police-fly-to-unistoten-gitxsan-show-solidarity-as-siege-continues-in-northwest-bc” target=”_blank”>According to</a> Ricochet<em>,</em> the RCMP expanded its “exclusion zone” Saturday, taking control of most of the territory of the Gidimt’en, one of the five clans of the Wet’suwet’en.</p><p>”The exclusion zone has been created by the RCMP to force Wet’suwet’en land defenders off our land,” the Unist’ot’en Camp said in a statement. “It is a colonial and criminalizing tool to illegally and arbitrarily extend RCMP authority onto our lands. The massive exclusion zone, completely under RCMP authoritarian discretion, falls outside the injunction area. Chiefs and Wet’suwet’en people are illegally being denied access to their own territories.”</p><p>The neighboring Gitxsan Nation led a solidarity action on Saturday, blocking a rail line in protest of the RCMP’s actions, the injunction, and the Canadian government’s failure to intervene on behalf of the Wet’suwet’en people’s rights.</p><p>”The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their house members have fought the forcible removal from their territories as they seek to protect their sovereign rights and protect the land, water and air,” Gitxsan hereditary chief Norman Stephens <a href=”https://ricochet.media/en/2920/police-fly-to-unistoten-gitxsan-show-solidarity-as-siege-continues-in-northwest-bc” target=”_blank”>told</a> Richochet. “If their rights are being trampled, our rights are being trampled.”</p>

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<p>Other rail blockades were <a href=”https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2020/02/08/protests-shut-down-ontario-rail-lines-in-support-of-wetsuweten-nation.html” target=”_blank”>reported</a> across the country, and solidarity actions took the form of rallies and protests at government buildings in Canada as well as in the U.S.</p>

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<p>Climate action leader <a href=”http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/greta-thunberg” target=”_self”>Greta Thunberg</a> also expressed support for the Wet’suwet’en on social media.</p>

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<p>”Indigenous rights equals climate justice,” Thunberg tweeted.</p>

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.

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