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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up May 29, 2020

Lux Research
May 29, 2020

Each day our analysts read through major industry headlines and provide their analysis on developments and trends in the news. Our experts evaluate news based on potential importance ranking the developments from Truly Disruptive to Ignore.

Every Friday we highlight our Lux Take on the news for the week. Check out our thoughts on the top emerging technology and innovation news, including our researchers' coverage of technologies and strategies as they relate to the global pandemic.

Even Poland is no longer a safe haven for investing in coal

Arij-van-Berkel-Lux-900px-squareArij van Berkel, Ph.D., Director, Research | @aivanberkel Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"The EU is not a good place to invest in coal-fired power, with the U.K., Germany, and the Netherlands all having explicit policies to end the use of coal for power generation altogether. Twenty-six out of 27 EU member states now support the EU Green Deal ambitions. The only country still undecided is Poland. Poland is similar to the U.S. and Australia; it has a large coal mining industry, so ending the use of coal will also cause unemployment. The situation is comparable to the U.K. in the 1980s, and ending the use of coal may lead to similar troubles to those faced by Thatcher at the time. It is remarkable that a combination of pressure from an activist shareholder and a state-owned utility could now end investments in coal even in Poland."

Will the coronavirus increase localization of supply chains and manufacturing?

drishti masand

Holman, Mike

Drishti Masand, Research Associate & Michael Holman, Ph.D., VP, Research | @DrishtiMasand Ico twitter @MichaelHolmanLR Ico twitter 
Lux Take: Very Important

"The UAE is using this pandemic to increase and improve its localized industries to become more self-reliant; with the annual production of 30 million masks, this new PPE manufacturing facility will allow the UAE to go from an importer to an exporter after meeting national needs. While localized supply chains would likely increase manufacturing costs and prices for consumers, the security of local production will drive companies to adopt them for at least some products. Companies should look to opportunities from automation to enterprise wearables to analytics that can help bring down the costs of manufacturing in higher-wage countries, as these tools will be more in demand."

U.S. Department of Commerce eases restrictions on Earth observation satellites

MirajMiraj Mainali, Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important

"After a long legal battle with industry leads in commercial satellite imaging who argued that the previous regulations were too restrictive, the DOC recently lifted many restrictions on radar imaging, nighttime imaging, and short-wave infrared imaging. Instead of the previous capability-based blanket restrictions, the new rule uses a three-tier approach comparing the capabilities the system would offer with what is available in the global market. Furthermore, the new eased restrictions will be based on time-limited technology controls with set expiration dates of one to three years. These changes go along with the fact that state-of-the-art capabilities, such as different resolutions of satellite imaging, keep improving at a rapid pace."

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Amyris launches synbio-derived baby powder

Schiavo, AnthonyAnthony Schiavo., Senior Analyst | @MobbDeep Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"This announcement comes hot on the heels of Johnson & Johnson pulling its talc-based powder from the market amid allegations that it causes cancer. This is a smart move for Amyris, as it can take advantage of this vacuum in the market to push what will be a premium product. Moreover, this move should drive home the value of synthetic biology as a flexible platform, as this flexibility allowed Amyris to move quickly to fill a sudden gap in the market. "

Ascus Biosciences uses its livestock microbiome expertise to raise a $46 million Series B

Krishfield, LauraLaura Krishfield, Research Associate | @LKrishfield Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"The funding round was led by Temasek Holdings and included investors Anterra Capital, Formation 8, Cavallo Ventures, and others. Ascus Biosciences develops microbe-based animal health products using bioinformatics and computer science rather than the chemistry-based approaches traditionally used in the feed additives industry. The company will use the funding to support its sales and service teams as well as for R&D. This news highlights just how significant understanding of the underlying physiological impacts of microbial products in livestock feeding is becoming to drive innovation in animal health. Companies should recognize how testing product performance using in silico experimentation is as important as livestock feeding trials."

Maersk, Ørsted, and other Danish companies embark on full-scale electrofuels production by 2030

YuanSheng Yu Photo_edited

Yuan-Sheng Yu, Senior Analyst | @808sAndInnovate Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"In what is likely the most high-profile and large-scale electrofuels project to date, a total of 1.3 GW of electrolyzer capacity is planned to come online by 2030 to produce 250,000 MT of fuels – hydrogen for buses and trucks, methanol for shipping, and electrofuels for aviation. The applications align with the roadmap for the decarbonization of transportation unlikely to be fulfilled through electrification, as both shipping and aviation demand is expected to grow substantially. However, the economics remains a major barrier, as hydrogen, methanol, and electrofuels depend highly on access to cheap renewable electricity. While a possible 2021 start time has been set, companies should expect significant delays but monitor this project closely."

ADM and Marfrig announce planned joint venture PlantPlus Foods


Thomas Hayes, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"The joint venture, pending regulatory approval, will focus on selling plant-based foods across North and South America. This builds on the pair's previous collaboration on plant-based meat in Brazil. It's another example of a major meat producer, Marfrig, embracing plant proteins. There has been a small yet noticeable uptick in the LATAM market too, with this event following NotCo's partnership with Burger King, Just's market expansion, and JBS's newly launched plant-based innovation center. Companies, the commercial maturity of plant proteins is only accelerating, and it is crucial to identify growth markets. LATAM is showing early signs of a trajectory similar to the one China is now on."

Waveguide developer DigiLens and Qualcomm announce AR glasses prototype platform

Vladimir Roznyatovskiy, Ph.D., Senior AnalystVladimir Roznyatovskiy, Ph.D., Senior Analyst | @roznyatovskiy Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"AR glasses require waveguide optics, light engines, a CPU/modem, a battery, and many other components. Each element is hard to make and match with the rest of the design, which has been a moving target lately, with progress in optical materials, microLEDs, and sensors. The difficulty of bringing all the developers together is part of why there are no mass-market AR glasses. To accelerate components adoption and ultimate market share, Qualcomm and DigiLens combined optics and the flagship Snapdragon XR2 processor in an AR glasses frame for the developers to experiment with the brand components. While the combination is inflexible in optics and CPU, the partnership will result in accelerated work on light engines and virtual content creation."

Amazon reported to be in talks with autonomous vehicle company Zoox for potential acquisition

Lewie Roberts Lux Research

Lewie Roberts, Senior Research Associate | @roberts_lewie Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"While there is no confirmation of any deal, Lux does expect Zoox to be acquired at some point (even if it is not by Amazon). The company's approach to autonomous vehicle development includes building its own specialized electric powertrains, and such activity requires far more capital than Zoox has at its disposal. However, with most auto OEMs already having established partnerships, less traditional mobility players like Amazon are more likely to make the purchase. The company's focus on difficult urban areas like San Francisco could make it particularly appealing to those operating within the last-mile delivery markets.

Coal-fired electricity generation drops by 31% in India as country's CO₂ emissions decline for first time in more than 40 years

YuanSheng Yu Photo_edited

Yuan-Sheng Yu, Senior Analyst | @808sAndInnovate Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"As the country of 1.4 billion went under a national lockdown, energy demand inevitably decreased, just as in the rest of the world. Coal consumption was impacted the most, decreasing more than 30% compared to 2019 during the three-month period. Other forms of energy, however, remained fairly consistent with pre-COVID rates, with hydropower, wind and solar, and natural gas closely tracking 2019 consumption rates as nuclear increased by more than 30% to offset coal. This trend is not unique to India, as U.S. coal generation also decreased during this period. However unlike the U.S., India is still drastically expanding its generation capacity, and nuclear remains a key component of its planned electricity mix, with plans to add 20 GW by 2030."

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As with many other recent setbacks, COVID-19 might be the reason for the cancellation of NASA's SpaceX launch

MirajMiraj Mainali, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance

"SpaceX was on its way to being the first private company to launch astronauts into the international space station. However, the inclement Florida weather prevented the launch. Although the weather criteria for launching space vehicles are very restrictive, recently, the accuracy of weather forecasting has also significantly decreased. Weather forecasting is usually done by analyzing atmospheric data from satellite images, weather balloons, and sensors mounted on airplanes. However, commercial flights have dropped by 96% in Q2 of 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in less data acquisition and inaccurate weather forecasts. This demonstrates the importance of data integration in applications that require remote sensing."

Siemens Gamesa to deploy its new 14 MW offshore wind turbine in U.S. and Taiwan

Patricia Seoane da Silva - Lux Research - Research AssociatePatricia Seoane da Silva, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Building upon its 11 MW turbine, the new addition to Siemens Gamesa's catalog is the largest offshore wind turbine announced to date. This turbine features a 222 m rotor diameter and is rated at 14 MW, though it can potentially reach 15 MW thanks to the company's Power Boost function. A prototype of this model will be installed in Denmark in 2021. Additionally, Siemens Gamesa will supply its 14 MW turbines to Dominion's 2.6 GW Coastal Virginia project in the U.S. (the country's largest installation) and the upcoming 300 MW Hai Long 2 project in Taiwan. This event reopened the debate on wind turbine size; while 14 MW to 15 MW turbines are expected to gain traction, larger capacities face the risk of not being economically viable. 

Nanotech Energy raises $27 million despite questionable claims and dim prospects

Schiavo, AnthonyAnthony Schiavo., Senior Analyst | @MobbDeep Ico twitter
Lux Take: Ignore

"Nanotech Energy's press release contains multiple questionable claims, most notably that it is the world's leading supplier of graphene; this simply isn’t true at the startup's current kilogram scale. Even taking its claims at face value, its technology is not exceptional: Increased charging speed is not a major value add, and the company's claimed cycle life is not substantially better than that of existing products. Companies should ignore this company; despite some notable partnerships, it has failed to demonstrate a clear breakthrough."






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