ISSUE #4: March 20, 2018
As pointed out in a prior Clean Slate issue a couple of weeks ago, South Africa is approaching Day Zero when vast swaths of the country will be without water. While the water issue is reaching crisis levels in South Africa, water scarcity is a global issue that is having profound effects on people and industry alike. The water infrastructure is in dire need of upgrade and development in order to more effectively transport, monitor, recycle and reuse this precious resource. In the US alone, it is estimated that we will need to invest more than $1 trillion over the next 25 years to fix our aging water infrastructure.
The Farm of the Future?
Larry Ellison, the billionaire founder of Oracle is bringing his technology background to the farm. Recently, Ellison announced the formation of Sensei, Inc., a hydroponic farm and wellness company that he has started with author Dr. David Agus. Unlike many other farm startups that seek to increase yield per acre, Sensei will use technology and a variety of sensors to increase nutrition per acre. It helps when you own an island in Hawaii (as Ellison does) to provide a fertile testing environment. Sensei will be an interesting endeavor to watch:
Over the past couple of decades, improvements in the energy density and cost of lithium battery technology have progressed meaningfully. But most of these advancements have been incremental improvements due to tweaks in the chemistry of the cathodes or improvements in manufacturing efficiency and supply chain improvements. Now, it would appear that we are on the cusp of a more meaningful breakthrough in reducing battery costs due to improvements in the anode technology:
Bill Joy on Clean Tech Investing
Bill Joy, founder of Sun Microsystems, is one of the most successful tech investors over the past thirty years. Not to be outdone by fellow tech billionaire Larry Ellison (noted above), he too has now turned his acumen to investing in technologies that will positively change the world. Specifically, he recently discussed three investments that he has made to help advance clean technology and improve the environment. These investments include a solid-state battery startup that seeks to outperform current lithium ion technology, an aerated cement that absorbs carbon dioxide and the production of meat from plant sources. It certainly seems like an eclectic array of challenges:
The month of March has come in like a lion, and remained as such with no lambs in sight, as the Eastern Seaboard has been hit with multiple nor’easters, the latest during this writing. While scientists are careful to not directly correlate day-to-day weather severity in direct causal fashion to climate change, evidence is now linking Arctic temperature gains to extreme winter weather. After studying more than 60 years of data on U.S. and Arctic weather patterns, a recent study published in Nature Communications finds a link between the warmer Arctic weather and extreme weather on the East Coast:
The last three East Coast nor’easters caused millions to be without power, the result of heavy snow and strong winds attacking power lines and sub-stations. We believe that distributed energy sources such as solar power systems coupled with energy storage and micro-grids will make blackouts a thing of the past as battery storage systems decline in price. A few weeks ago, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) finalized a rule that will allow energy storage to compete against power plants in wholesale power markets. Under the ruling, battery storage systems can be used by electrical grid operators to dispatch power, set energy prices, and offer capacity, energy and ancillary services:
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As of 12/31/17, the Fund's top ten holdings are Umicore SA (4.62%), Philips Lighting NV (4.07%), FANUC CORP (3.96%), Kornit Digital Ltd. (3.95%), Xylem, Inc. (3.54%), Watts Water Technologies, Inc. (3.44%), Keyence Corp (3.30%), Trimble, Inc. (3.29%), Sensate Technologies Holding NV (3.22%), and Mueller Water Products, Inc. (3.14%).
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