Discussing The Energy Transition With An Expert

SL Advisors Talks Markets
SL Advisors Talks Markets
Discussing The Energy Transition With An Expert



As we sat down to lunch in London’s west end earlier this month, Richard told me his family had been good friends with Patrick Moore, presenter of BBC’s The Sky At Night from 1957 until his death in 2012. He was a passionate amateur astronomer who taught viewers what they were looking at in the night sky and contributed to early mapping of the Moon. He spoke quickly and seemed rather eccentric. I remember watching his TV show as a young boy.

The Horsehead Nebula (pictured) draws its red color from ionized hydrogen gas sitting behind the dark nebula. It’s the type of shot Patrick Moore would have used on his TV show.

Moore believed the Sun’s impact on climate was under-appreciated and dismissed human activity as the driving force behind recent climate change. Perhaps he’d have a more nuanced view today. He was old enough to have met Orville Wright and later Neil Armstrong, connecting the two most defining moments in aviation history.

Richard is a business development manager for a leading international energy major. He’s responsible for developing the case for hydrogen imports to Europe and investigates investment opportunities for clean energy projects, part of supporting their developing energy transition portfolio. Richard has spent his career in energy, including with several European majors. In university he studied climatology, and investigated some of the ways in which volcanic ash and solar radiation can impact the climate.

He reached out to me because of our blog. I always enjoy meeting our readers – Richard multitasks by listening to our blogcasts on his commute rather than reading them. He was able to leave the office for lunch during my recent trip.

Every big energy company has an energy transition strategy. As shareholder-owned commercial enterprises, they don’t have the luxury of accepting inferior returns to achieve politically correct targets. Renewables investments must compete with traditional energy for capital and other resources. Skeptics might argue that solar and wind projects provide political cover to focus on oil and gas, where the real profits are.

Richard is well versed in the challenges of the energy transition. Like most people who have given serious thought to the topic, he believes we need to use much more nuclear. This blog often asserts that nuclear opponents haven’t thought very hard about practical ways to reduce CO2.

Richard noted that small cars lend themselves to electrification. We think they’ll need to be cheaper than equivalent conventional cars to attain mass appeal, because of the inconvenience of recharging. He believes hydrogen is a more practical solution for large trucks and long-distance transport because storing enough power in batteries adds too much weight to be economically practical. Daimler and Hyzon are actively working on liquid hydrogen trucks.

The EU is targeting 10 Million Tonnes Per Annum (MTPA) of domestic hydrogen production along with 10 MTPA of imports to jump start region-wide consumption of hydrogen by 2030. The European Hydrogen Bank is providing up to €100BN in support of these ambitions. De-carbonizing steel and cement production, perhaps with hydrogen, are priorities although the technical challenges are significant.

Europe has always seemed a better prospect for hydrogen than the US, where cheap natural gas renders the economics of hydrogen unworkable without substantial government subsidies. European politics is also to the left of the US, meaning there’s greater tolerance for high energy prices in exchange for reduced emissions.

Liquifying hydrogen prior to transportation makes it denser, allowing for more energy to be moved per unit of volume. However, chilling it to a liquid state is very energy intensive. Boil-off is a common problem for LNG tankers. Some of the LNG must be released in transit as it warms up and becomes gaseous. Boil-off losses are typically around 1% per day for LNG tankers and shipping liquid hydrogen faces the same problem but to a much greater extent due to the larger temperature differential. Hydrogen needs to be cooled to below -250C so many companies are looking at alternative means of transport such as combining it with nitrogen to form ammonia, which is liquid at a much more manageable -33C.

In the US Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) received a boost in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act which offers tax credits of up to $180 per metric tonne for permanently sequestered CO2. Occidental is a leader in this (see How Occidental Invests In Lower Taxes).

Rock formations that previously held natural gas (methane) can be good places to permanently store CO2. There’s a wonderful symmetry in extracting carbon atoms as methane molecules (CH4) and returning them to their source after use as CO2. The Netherlands has identified storage capacity for up to 3.2 Gigatonnes, more than the EU emitted last year.

The Dutch Senate has now passed a law to end natural gas production at Groningen, one of Europe’s largest, from October 1st this year to limit seismic risks from hydraulic fracturing. Groningen is not currently contemplated as a repository for CO2. Its closure leaves untapped reserves, and some politicians argue it could jeopardize the country’s security of supply. Possible re-use as a carbon dioxide store is yet to be seen but would certainly pose new challenges.

The steel and concrete well casings, through which natural gas was originally extracted, can become corroded from prolonged contact with CO2, requiring the replacement of the installed materials. Hydrogen produces its own challenges when coming into contact with steel. It’s a very small molecule so can penetrate the metal and cause embrittlement.

Safely ensuring the integrity of former gas wells and pipelines if repurposed for CO2 or hydrogen use might prove too expensive, resulting in the need to drill or build new, specialized, infrastructure.

There are likely better options. As is often the case, the biggest challenges in reducing CO2 are economic.

Richard is well-versed in these and other technical challenges facing the energy transition. I spent an absorbing lunch listening to him. We are fortunate to have people with his knowledge and ambition working on the problem.

We have three have funds that seek to profit from this environment:

Energy Mutual Fund

Energy ETF

Real Assets Fund


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
SL Advisors Talks Markets
SL Advisors Talks Markets
Discussing The Energy Transition With An Expert

Important Disclosures

The information provided is for informational purposes only and investors should determine for themselves whether a particular service, security or product is suitable for their investment needs. The information contained herein is not complete, may not be current, is subject to change, and is subject to, and qualified in its entirety by, the more complete disclosures, risk factors and other terms that are contained in the disclosure, prospectus, and offering. Certain information herein has been obtained from third party sources and, although believed to be reliable, has not been independently verified and its accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed. No representation is made with respect to the accuracy,  completeness or timeliness of this information. Nothing provided on this site constitutes tax advice. Individuals should seek the advice of their own tax advisor for specific information regarding tax consequences of investments.  Investments in securities entail risk and are not suitable for all investors. This site is not a recommendation nor an offer to sell (or solicitation of an offer to buy) securities in the United States or in any other jurisdiction.

References to indexes and benchmarks are hypothetical illustrations of aggregate returns and do not reflect the performance of any actual investment. Investors cannot invest in an index and do not reflect the deduction of the advisor’s fees or other trading expenses. There can be no assurance that current investments will be profitable. Actual realized returns will depend on, among other factors, the value of assets and market conditions at the time of disposition, any related transaction costs, and the timing of the purchase. Indexes and benchmarks may not directly correlate or only partially relate to portfolios managed by SL Advisors as they have different underlying investments and may use different strategies or have different objectives than portfolios managed by SL Advisors (e.g. The Alerian index is a group MLP securities in the oil and gas industries. Portfolios may not include the same investments that are included in the Alerian Index. The S & P Index does not directly relate to investment strategies managed by SL Advisers.)

This site may contain forward-looking statements relating to the objectives, opportunities, and the future performance of the U.S. market generally. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of such words as; “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “should,” “planned,” “estimated,” “potential” and other similar terms. Examples of forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, estimates with respect to financial condition, results of operations, and success or lack of success of any particular investment strategy. All are subject to various factors, including, but not limited to general and local economic conditions, changing levels of competition within certain industries and markets, changes in interest rates, changes in legislation or regulation, and other economic, competitive, governmental, regulatory and technological factors affecting a portfolio’s operations that could cause actual results to differ materially from projected results. Such statements are forward-looking in nature and involves a number of known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, and accordingly, actual results may differ materially from those reflected or contemplated in such forward-looking statements. Prospective investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements or examples. None of SL Advisors LLC or any of its affiliates or principals nor any other individual or entity assumes any obligation to update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information, subsequent events or any other circumstances. All statements made herein speak only as of the date that they were made. r

Certain hyperlinks or referenced websites on the Site, if any, are for your convenience and forward you to third parties’ websites, which generally are recognized by their top level domain name. Any descriptions of, references to, or links to other products, publications or services does not constitute an endorsement, authorization, sponsorship by or affiliation with SL Advisors LLC with respect to any linked site or its sponsor, unless expressly stated by SL Advisors LLC. Any such information, products or sites have not necessarily been reviewed by SL Advisors LLC and are provided or maintained by third parties over whom SL Advisors LLC exercise no control. SL Advisors LLC expressly disclaim any responsibility for the content, the accuracy of the information, and/or quality of products or services provided by or advertised on these third-party sites.

All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that any specific investment will be suitable or profitable for a client’s investment portfolio.

Past performance of the American Energy Independence Index is not indicative of future returns.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
1 reply
  1. Ray Wood
    Ray Wood says:

    If hydrocarbons are the problem, then it is a global problem and should be addressed with a global solution. Ouch!!! That would require a global analysis. Double ouch!!! This would lead to the dreaded John Kerry Syndrome. The climate king’s personal carbon footprint is larger than an African village. Oops. This is a real problem for the global elite climate scammers. SOS. Same old stuff.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.