Plug Power jumps 13% after it partners with Airbus to study and develop hydrogen-powered air travel

Plug Power
Plug Power forklift system.

  • Plug Power surged 13% on Wednesday after the company inked hydrogen partnerships with Airbus and Phillips 66.
  • The hydrogen fuel-cell developer will work with Airbus on a hydrogen-powered airport feasibility study.
  • Plug Power also said it signed a MOU with Phillips 66 to collaborate on hydrogen business opportunities.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Plug Power surged as much as 13% on Wednesday after the hydrogen fuel-cell developer said it inked partnerships with Airbus and Phillips 66.

The Latham, NY-based company partnered with Airbus to conduct a feasibility study of bringing hydrogen to future aircraft and airports. Airbus is working towards a goal of bringing zero-emission aircraft to market by 2035, and it thinks hydrogen could play a role in that goal.

Airbus will work closely with Plug Power to develop a joint study and roadmap that could deliver hydrogen to aircraft and the airport ecosystem in the future. Plug Power will build deployment scenarios for green hydrogen infrastructure at airports, while Airbus will provide insight on hydrogen aircraft characteristics.

“This partnership with Plug Power will enable us to leverage their expertise to decarbonize airports while preparing them for the arrival of hydrogen aircraft by 2035,” Airbus Vice-President Glenn Llewellyn said.

Separately, Plug Power signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on the development of hydrogen-based business opportunities with Phillips 66, a diversified oil refiner that also operates retail gas stations.

The companies will explore how to deploy Plug Power’s technology within Phillips 66’s operations, including scaling hydrogen into the industrial sector, advancing hydrogen fueling opportunities, and developing hydrogen-related infrastructure.

Also aiding to a boost in Plug Power’s stock on Wednesday is an upgrade from Morgan Stanley. The bank raised its price target on Plug Power to $40 from $35, representing potential upside of 34%, and upgraded it to “Overweight” from “Equal-weight.”

Plug Power stock price
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This hydrogen paste has a similar range to that of gasoline and could revolutionize the transport industry

powerpaste hydrogen fuel
The development of POWERPASTE, that may revolutionize the hydrogen industry.

As the devastating potential impacts of climate change become increasingly obvious, many are turning away from fossil fuels to power their vehicles and looking for alternatives.

The answer may lie in the hydrogen industry, which is projected to generate $2.5 trillion in revenue by 2050 and to provide hard competition to Elon Musk’s Tesla-produced electric cars.

A team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Germany has now developed a hydrogen paste, POWERPASTE, that may be easier to use especially in smaller vehicles.

TRL 5 demonstrator powerpaste hydrogen
POWERPASTE is created from a magnesium base.

Hydrogen-powered motorbikes and scooters

In 2018, the French startup Pragma Industries began selling hydrogen-powered bikes.

However, they were too expensive for the consumer market at over $9,000 per bike and $36,000 for a charging station.

POWERPASTE might be able to solve that problem, with the substance created from magnesium base and stored in the vehicle in the form of a cartridge.

All drivers need to do to refuel is swap out the old cartridge for a new one and fill a tank with water.

“POWERPASTE stores hydrogen in a chemical form at room temperature and atmospheric pressure to be then released on demand,” institute research associate Dr. Marcus Vogt said in a press release.

As the paste only begins to decompose at temperatures of around 480 degrees Fahrenheit, researchers said drivers didn’t need to worry about leaving their vehicles out in the hot sun.

ZeroAvia's world's first hydrogen-electric passenger plane flight
Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates have already backed the startup ZeroAvia.

Fuel for the future

“POWERPASTE… has a huge energy storage density,” said Vogt. “It is substantially higher than that of a 700 bar high-pressure tank. And compared to batteries, it has ten times the energy storage density.”

The researchers also pointed out that the range of the paste can be compared with gasoline and may even exceed it.

They suggested that this could make it a viable option for cars or in portable fuel cells on camping trips, and could significantly extend the possibilities of drone usage.

The hydrogen industry looks set to grow significantly in the coming years.

Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates have already backed the startup ZeroAvia, which is developing hydrogen-powered flights.

In 2016, Germany invested $265 million in hydrogen cars and with the rise of viable alternatives, other countries may now follow suit.

The institute is now building a pilot plant at the Fraunhofer Project Center for Energy Storage and Systems in the German city of Braunschweig.

Scheduled to open later this year, they estimate an annual production capacity of four tonnes of POWERPASTE.

Read the original article on Business Insider

What you need to know on the markets this week: Bitcoin and beyond; ‘Hey big spenders’ – what the funds did with their cash; a platinum opportunity?

In this photo illustration a Bitcoin logo seen displayed on a smartphone with the stock market graphic in the background
Bitcoin hit a record of nearly $50,000 last week.

Last week saw some game-changing events for the cryptocurrency market, which pushed the prices of bitcoin, ether and others to record highs. Meanwhile, on the commodities front, a broad sweep higher in raw materials prices has got market-watchers pondering if we are on the verge of a new super-cycle. This coming week may reveal if big investors are buying into crypto, as well as the resilience of star precious metal, platinum. 

Bitcoin to the moon… and beyond

Bitcoin hit a record of nearly $50,000 last week and this time around, it wasn’t a motley crew of amateur traders organizing an effort to squeeze the price higher. Elon Musk, a long-time advocate of cryptocurrencies and of bitcoin, in particular, had already ignited a frenzy in “meme crypto”  Dogecoin.

But it was Tesla – the electric vehicle maker he founded and runs – unveiling a $1.5-billion purchase of bitcoin that fueled this latest leg higher. Tesla said it would also consider allowing customers to pay using the digital token, possibly opening the floodgates to other large companies to do the same.

Online payment groups like PayPal and Square already allow users to buy and sell with crypto. Last week, Mastercard joined their ranks and said it would allow the use of some cryptocurrencies on its network.

RBC suggested Apple could be the next big corporation to adopt bitcoin, and the CFO of Twitter told CNBC on Wednesday that it too could buy the token. But bitcoin isn’t ready to go mainstream, according to the world’s biggest asset manager, UBS. And Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has, again, voiced reservations about cryptocurrencies in general, saying their use in online crime and for money laundering is growing.

BlackRock, the world’s biggest fund manager, last month said it would allow two of its funds to invest in bitcoin futures. So who’s next? 

This week could bring the answer to that question, when Wall Street’s big guns report how they invested their money in the final three months of 2020.

Read more: Tesla just invested $1.5 billion in bitcoin. Here are the bull and bear cases for the crypto, according to legendary macro trader Mike Novogratz and Goldman’s wealth-management CIO.

“Hey big spender” – how the funds spent their funds

This coming week, the biggest US investors will release details of what they put money into -and sold off – in the fourth quarter of 2020. The so-called 13-F filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission offer a breakdown of the holdings at the end of December of any fund with more than $100 million under management.

However, in the wake of the GameStop short-squeeze in January, anyone hoping to get a look at what stocks the funds are betting against will be disappointed. A 13-F filing contains long positions only, along with a fund’s options holdings, convertible notes and American Depository Receipts (ADRs) – or holdings of US-listed stock of foreign companies. But no short positions. 

Even so, most investors – professional and amateur – scour the 13-Fs to see what the “smart money” did last quarter. Warren Buffett, “Big Short” investor Michael Burry – who must be one of the lone Tesla shorts standing -, Ray Dalio, David Einhorn, Seth Klarman and Ryan Cohen will all release details of what they bought and sold.

Read more: It could take just 2 catalysts for pockets of speculation to snowball into a widespread bubble, one global strategist says. He recommends 3 ways to capitalize on this frothy environment.

Platinum-star performance 

The price of platinum rocketed by 15% to above $1,200 an ounce its highest in over six years last week, driven by a heady cocktail of a weaker dollar and a broad investor push into commodities and making it the best-performing raw material of the past week. It scorched past crude oil, copper and lumber and is on track to top the charts for the month of February. 

Until around last March, in the depths of the coronavirus crisis, platinum had been on a long, painful downtrend. Aside from its use in jewellery, platinum’s main industrial use was in the catalytic converters of diesel-powered vehicles. The diesel-emissions scandal, which led to a drastic drop in sales of diesel vehicles and several punitive measures aimed to reduce the number of them on the roads, has eaten into platinum demand – so much so that for the past six years it has been worth less than gold, despite being far more scarce. 

As the world transitions to using cleaner sources of energy and cutting emissions, several commodities are emerging as being central to this effort, platinum being one of them. 

Platinum, together with iridium, is used as a catalyst in proton exchange membrane electrolysis – used to extract hydrogen from water as a source of zero-emissions sustainable fuel. 

Johnson Matthey, the world’s largest refiner of platinum group metals, said in a report on February 10 the global platinum market ran a deficit for the second year in a row in 2020. It looks likely to see a shortfall again this year. 

“The move towards an expected supply deficit is occurring at a time of increased focus on tightening emission regulation in regular combustion engines while accelerating green hydrogen production has increased demand for platinum-based electrolyser capacity,” Saxo Bank head of commodity strategy Ole Hansen said in a note last week.

“Having been in a downtrend for nearly a decade, platinum’s breakout last November helped attract renewed investment demand, not least after gold hit $2000/oz and its premium to platinum rose above $1000/oz. These developments helped attract increased switching activity between the two metals,” Hansen said.

Chart of the week – pot luck

Last week, cannabis stocks went parabolic, driven by double-digit percentage rallies in the likes of Aphria, Tilray and Sundial Growers. Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election and Democrat promises to decriminalize cannabis have given a number of investors, including the Reddit traders, reason to pile in. Cannabis was the top-performing investment theme last week, according to broker CMC Markets’ Global Thematic ETF screening too, with a gain of nearly 40%, compared to runner-up uranium, with a 11% increase.

Relative performance of the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF vs S&P 500
Relative performance of the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF vs S&P 500.

Economic calendar for the w/c Feb 15

Feb 14 Japan GDP 

Feb 16 Eurozone GDP growth Q4

Feb 17 US retail sales/FOMC minutes

Feb 17 Australia unemployment rate

Feb 17 ECB monetary policy meeting minutes

Feb 18 Australia retail sales

Feb 18 Philadelphia Fed business activity index

Feb 19 UK retail sales/consumer inflation 

Feb 19 Canada retail sales

Feb 21 PBOC rate decision

Feb 21 New Zealand retail sales

Earnings calendar for the w/c Feb 15

2/15 BHP Billiton

2/15 BHP Group

2/16 CVS Health Corp

2/16 Glencore

2/16 Palantir Technologies

2/17 BAT (British American Tobacco)

2/17 Garmin 

2/17 Rio Tinto

2/17 Shopify 

2/18 Airbus

2/18 Barclays

2/18 Carrefour

2/18 Credit Suisse

2/18 Daimler

2/18 EDF (Electricité de France)

2/18 Nestlé

2/18 Newmont Mining

2/18 Walmart

2/19 Allianz

2/19 Danone

2/19 Renault

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Hydrogen-powered flight inches closer to reality as Amazon and Gates’ cleantech fund back fuel-cell startup ZeroAvia

Shell Hydrogen charging point 2019
Shell is among the largest backers of hydrogen technology

Happy Friday, and welcome to Insider Energy, a weekly energy newsletter brought to you by Business Insider.  

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Want to get Insider Energy in your inbox every Friday? Sign up here
  • You can reach me at I welcome feedback and story tips. 
  • Save the date! We’re hosting a virtual roundtable about building a clean energy economy on the morning of March 8. More on that below. 

It snowed a lot this week. My dog lost his mind. Now, like all good things, the snow has turned to brown slush. 

Also this week, several top oil companies reported earnings, giving us a more complete picture of the financial fallout from the pandemic. There were no major surprises, but the negative numbers are big. 

We’ll get to that, but first: A look at an early winner of the hydrogen boom. 

ZeroAvia hydrogen-powered plane
ZeroAvia is developing a powertrain for planes powered on hydrogen fuel cells

Hydrogen planes inch closer to reality with funding from Amazon, Shell, and Bill Gates’ cleantech fund

When hydrogen gas inside the Hindenburg exploded in 1937, the era of airship travel came to an end. Now the very same gas is reentering the aviation industry. And this time it’s kicking off a new era – one of zero-carbon travel.

This week: I profiled ZeroAvia, an ambitious startup working on hydrogen-powered aircraft. It recently raised money from huge names including Amazon, Shell Ventures, and Bill Gates’ climate tech venture fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures. 

Hydrogen’s moment: Is right now. The gas is quickly building a reputation as a linchpin in the transition to cleaner energy, and investors are now looking for where to place their bets. Some aren’t having much luck. 

  • “We look aggressively,” Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures, told me last fall. “We haven’t found somebody with breakthrough technology. There’s a lot of incremental technologies there, but nobody has a real breakthrough. If you find one, have them call me.”
  • Investors we spoke to say hydrogen used for aviation, heavy-duty vehicles, and industrial processes, such as steelmaking, is most promising. 

Chevron gas station
Chevron’s deal to buy Noble Energy for $5 billion would come with redundancies, the company said.

Big losses for Big Oil

The results are in: Major oil companies, surprising no one, suffered steep financial losses in 2020. 

One big number: $56 billion

  • That’s the combined full-year loss of five of the top companies including Exxon, Chevron, BP, Shell, and ConocoPhillips. Exxon and Shell topped the list. 
  • Last year, these firms earned about that same amount, combined. 

Only up to go? Probably, at least until demand for oil and gas begins a more permanent decline. 

  • The price of oil is rising fast as demand notches up. Brent is trading at close to $60 a barrel, erasing year-over-year losses. 
  • Companies spent 2020 lowering the cost of production, so they’re positioned to succeed even if oil prices don’t go much higher. 
  • That’s made some investors extremely bullish on the traditional energy sector. Bank of America’s chief oil researcher told us why he thinks oil and gas will have a good year and shared 15 of his top picks

But: We have a new president who’s pushing clean energy and major companies are setting targets to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. 

  • The “decarbonization newsflow,” as Goldman Sachs put it in a recent note, is souring investor sentiment in oil and gas companies.
  • Among the news that investors see as downside risk is litigation surrounding pipelines and GM’s announcement that it will phase out gas-powered cars. 
  • That’s “widened the gap in sentiment between clean energy and traditional energy,” Goldman Sachs analysts wrote. Residential solar is most in favor, they said.

Read more: Meet the 11 top execs helping CEO Mary Barra make General Motors all-electric by 2035

Exxon Baton Rouge refinery
An Exxon refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Exxon doubles down on carbon capture but activist investors remain unsatisfied

Exxon this week announced it was launching a new business unit focused on low-carbon technologies. (We’ve now updated our org chart to include the new division.)

What to know: The unit, which Exxon launched after investors pressed the company to move faster to address climate change, will initially focus on carbon capture and storage.

  • No surprises here: Exxon has been developing carbon capture projects for a while now.
  • The technology is attractive to oil companies in part because it doesn’t require that they rewrite their business models and pump less crude from the ground.

How investors responded: They were nonplussed. 

  • A coalition of investors with over $2.2 trillion in assets said Exxon’s plan to build out carbon capture capabilities isn’t credible, pointing to a carbon-capture project that the company delayed
  • Activist investor Engine No. 1 had a similar reaction: It’s “poor long-term planning to rely almost exclusively on the idea that carbon capture will become scalable and affordable soon enough to allow for continued oil and gas production growth for decades to come under a Paris-compliant trajectory,” the group said. 
  • But investors aren’t jumping ship: The company’s stock is up 10% this week and 20% since the start of the year.

What’s more: Exxon also announced a new board member this week – Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin, former CEO of the Malaysian state energy company Petronas. 

  • A board shake-up is another demand from activist investors.
  • Hedge fund DE Shaw had been in talks with Exxon about making changes to its board, Bloomberg reported ahead of the announcement. Engine No. 1 has also launched a campaign to elect four new directors. 
  • On Thursday Bloomberg reported that the company is considering also appointing Jeff Ubben, who runs Inclusive Capital Partners, to the board.

WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES - 2018/03/04: Jennifer Granholm, Former Governor of Michigan, speaking at the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Policy Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is Joe Biden’s pick for energy secretary.

5 things in energy politics 

  1. Jennifer Granholm’s nomination as Energy Secretary cleared a key Senate committee and now advances to the full Senate, where she is expected to be confirmed.
  2. A new report by left-leaning groups Evergreen Action and Data for Progress reveals how Senate Democrats can clean up the electric grid by 2035, even with a razor-thin majority.
  3. Senate Democrats reintroduced legislation for a $100 billion national “green bank.” It would make loans and investments in technologies aligned with Biden’s climate agenda, Greentech Media reported
  4. Agriculture Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack said that he plans to prioritize efforts to address climate change and food insecurity, during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Insider’s Ayelet Sheffey reports
  5. Senator Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat who advocates for strong climate change policy, recently invested up to $15,000 in a power company that primarily burns fossil fuels, according to a stock purchase disclosure, Insider’s Dave Levinthal reports

Save the date: Building a clean-energy economy

We’re hosting a virtual roundtable, as part of our Transformers series, on how to build a clean energy economy. Save the date! 

When: March 8, at 10:00 am (NYC time)

Where: Online, of course. We’ll send out more information next week. 

Who: The roundtable will feature Shell’s head of new energies, the founder of Form Energy, Facebook’s renewable energy lead, and Oliver Wyman’s head of energy. 

That’s it! Have a great weekend. 

– Benji 

Ps. This was a serious storm. Here’s what it looked like in Park Slope. 

Benji snow
Snow in Park Slope

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