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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up November 6, 2020

Lux Research
November 6, 2020

Every day our experts comb through the top innovation headlines and provide their analysis on important updates, trends, and developments across industries. Our experts evaluate news based on potential importance ranking the developments from Truly Disruptive to Ignore.

Each Friday we highlight our Lux Take on the news for the week. Check out our thoughts on the latest emerging technology and innovation news for the first week of November below.

Australia to host 10 GW PV farm connected to Singapore through an underwater HVDC line

Seoane da Silva, PatriciaPatricia Seoane da Silva, Research Associate
Lux Take: Truly Disruptive


"The AU$25 billion project is set to become the world's largest solar farm, but it is also an unprecedented effort in terms of storage requirements and distance. This project plans to transport power from the PV array installed near Tennant Creek to Darwin (roughly 750 km North) and eventually to Singapore via a 3,750 km underwater HVDC cable. As we have previously pointed out, HVDC power lines are the lowest-cost option for transporting large amounts of energy over vast distances. For this particular case, an important risk to bear in mind lies on the geopolitical and tectonic boundaries that the cable will need to traverse – as these are subject to political conflicts with Indonesia and cable rupture in the event of a tectonic shift."

Japan pledges to be carbon neutral by 2050

Runeel DaliahRuneel Daliah, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"The pledge was made by Japan's newly appointed prime minister, Yoshihide Suga – previously, the country only targeted CO2 emissions reduction of 80%. Details on how to reach this goal remain vague, but the country is already at the forefront of the hydrogen economy, in particular hydrogen imports, which will be essential to decarbonizing its economy, as Japan does not have enough capacity for renewable energy production. With this pledge, Japan joins the likes of the EU, China, and South Korea, which recently made similar commitments." 

Long-awaited SAE J2954 standardized wireless charging for BEVs

Robinson, ChristopherChristopher Robinson, Senior Analyst | @CRobinsonLux Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"Wireless charging has thus far failed to gain meaningful market share in BEVs. In some ways, it faces similar challenges as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles – no infrastructure has been built, as there are no cars that support it. The long-awaited J2954 standard aims in part to solve this problem, as the standard provides industrywide guidance to ensure systems are interoperable and safe. Those interested should expect this announcement to accelerate adoption of wireless charging systems for battery electric vehicles, which to date have mostly consisted of limited pilot projects."

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Shell reorganizes chemicals, focusing on energy transition and higher-value products

457-thumb-square

Michael Holman, Ph.D., VP, Research | @MichaelHolmanLR Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"Shell announced plans to consolidate refining down to six "chemical and energy parks" (from 14 today) and shift to more "performance and sustainable chemicals." It also plans to integrate with low-carbon fuels like biofuels, synfuels, and hydrogen and to make greater use of feedstocks like waste and biomass. While some peers like BP have opted to focus on transportation and move out of chemicals, Shell is sticking to what we've called the hydrocarbon strategy, repurposing assets for chemicals production as demand for transportation fuel retreats. Chemicals companies should watch for new competition and consider alternative business models in response – but be wary of the climate risks from such a consolidated approach."

Walmart reverses plan to deploy inventory scanning robots in 1,000 of its stores

Josh Kern, Analyst

Josh Kern, Analyst | @josh_kern_ Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"The retailer ended its contract with Bossa Nova Robotics, saying the ROI from deploying its robots in store aisles was not high enough. A shift toward online orders, including in-store pickup, during the COVID-19 pandemic caused Walmart employees to frequently walk through aisles to pick up customer orders. This shift allowed employees to handle the inventory scanning, rendering the robots less useful. While the trend is unlikely to reverse after the pandemic, clients should not see this as a larger move away from robotics. Instead, expect more automation to happen in back-of-store environments and microfulfillment centers, using technology like that from Fabric and Alert Innovation (which also partners with Walmart)."

South Korea pledges to be carbon neutral by 2050

Runeel DaliahRuneel Daliah, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"The pledge was made by President Moon Jae-in – details are still undisclosed, but the country still relies on coal for about 40% of its electricity use, so decarbonizing electricity generation will be its priority. With this pledge, South Korea joins the likes of the EUChina, and Japan, which recently made similar commitments."

NSHX launches digital health assessment criteria to meet the need for clear guidance surrounding digital health tools

13261-thumb-squareDanielle Bradnan, Research Associate @DBradnan Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"Organizations (like ORCHA) and government agencies (see FDA's new center for digital excellence) have launched programs to provide guidance around what a "good" digital health tool looks like for health stakeholders. NHSX is the latest to develop standards in the hope of providing clarity around the value of different digital tools. Companies developing these digital tools should be aware of two key things: 1) As the digital health landscape continues to flesh itself out, the regulatory frameworks are likely to continue to evolve with it, requiring agility in design; 2) integrating these tools into current offerings will help shape the understanding of the landscape by regulatory bodies, and so there is an advantage to launching tools now."

AI-enabled methane leakage sensors could help oil and gas companies find leaks faster than ever

Lisheng GaoLisheng Gao, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed small, low-cost AI-enabled methane leakage detection sensors. The sensors can be mounted on cars and drones. The group aims to enable identification of leaking methane gas and fast and accurate location of leaks. Lux has covered many methane leakage detecting technologies. Most of them require finding the precise leakage location manually; not many involve advanced algorithms to do so automatically. Methane leakage has been a headache for oil and gas, causing both financial and environmental damages for companies and the public. Once commercialized, with the claimed performance and cost, the new sensors could potentially change the market landscape of methane leakage detection."

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Ginkgo Bioworks launches bioremediation startup Allonnia with $40 million funding from Ferment Consortium

hariniHarini Venkataraman, Ph.D., Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"Allonnia is the first company to be launched from Ginkgo's Ferment Consortium, for which it raised $350 million in October 2019. This new spinout will focus on engineering enzymes and microbes to convert wastewater pollutants, with an initial focus on per- and polyfluorinated compounds including PFAS, PFOA, and PFOS. Developing microbial bioremediation solutions for "difficult to remove" pollutants like PFAS can have a major environment impact, with academic research groups already working on this space at a lab stage. Given Allonnia's recent launch, the process will entail another two to three years of development. Those looking for potential partnerships should monitor the company's progress in achieving its milestones."

Kaluza and Bosch trial direct-to-car smart charging

Hernandez, Jessica

Jessica Hernandez, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Kaluza and Bosch combined the capabilities of their digital platforms and embedded vehicle technologies, connecting directly to electric vehicles (EVs) to manage their charging process without the need for smart charging hardware. Like other smart charging solutions, the goal is to shift the charging process to times when electricity is cheaper and greener, supporting the local grid. The partners claim a key benefit of managing charging events at the vehicle instead of the charging point is that the process now works "around user settings and vehicle data." This may open up opportunities for energy retailers to offer smart charging services as part of their electricity tariffs; however, more comprehensive details of the trial are needed."

Nestlé acquires Freshly, provider of fresh-prepared meal delivery services in the U.S, at a valuation of $950 million

10085-thumb-squareThomas Hayes, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"Since its founding in 2015, Freshly has reportedly grown every year and is now delivering more than a million meals per week across the U.S., with 2020 sales forecasted to be $430 million. There are two plausible reasons for Freshly's success. The first is its focus on prepared meals (rather than meal kits), providing ultimate convenience. The second is its consumer analytics platform and strong distribution network. Nestlé, demonstrating how to adapt to new industry structures, will be sure to take advantage of both aspects. Fellow CPGs should follow suit in finding alternative ways to reach consumers but note that a blockbuster acquisition is not necessary. For example, co-branding products provides a much less risky option."

Healthcare analytics company Vizient launches COVID-19 vaccine management resource for hospitals

13261-thumb-squareDanielle Bradnan, Research Associate @DBradnan Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"The vaccine is not likely to hit the market for months, but it is critical that hospitals and other elements of healthcare infrastructure begin to plan for deployment now – and these elements of infrastructure will need support in clinical decision-making, supply management, and operational maintenance. Companies looking to break into healthcare should not overlook the often less flashy infrastructural elements of care provision – and should recognize that there are opportunities within informational technologies as well. IT clients should consider healthcare infrastructural enablement a critical opportunity, one that will not go away after COVID-19, and look to develop similar solutions."

Did you miss last week's news round-up? Check out the blog here. Make sure you never miss a headline by subscribing to our newsletter.

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