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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up October 11, 2019

Lux Research
October 11, 2019

Every week Lux Analysts curate recent news, giving their expert opinions and analysis on selected developments. Our analysts evaluate news based on potential importance ranking developments from Truly Disruptive to Ignore. Check out our experts' thoughts on the top emerging tech and innovation headlines from this week below.

Each Friday we will highlight our Lux Take on the news for the week

Singapore to develop its first virtual power plant

Max Halik Lux Research Max Halik, Senior Research Associate | @mhalik_lux Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"Singapore's Energy Market Authority (EMA) together with Sembcorp has contracted Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to develop the VPP. Project details are scarce, simply mentioning the possibility of managing solar, energy storage, and other distributed resources. The project itself shouldn't come as too much of a surprise – NTU has a history of managing distributed energy resources, and Singapore's recent momentum toward electricity market liberalization means that this is a logical next step. Companiesishould regard this as a signal of maturing energy prospects in Singapore: It means assets like energy storage will have new value stacking opportunities and a stronger case for cost-effectiveness."

USDA's new partnership with Microsoft leads to business opportunities for IoT sensors in digital agriculture market

Lisheng Gao Lux ResearchLisheng Gao, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Agriculture Research Services announced its partnership with Microsoft to build machine learning models from disparate farm data. The USDA will pilot Microsoft FarmBeats at its 7,000-acre Beltsville, Maryland, farm and aims for broad future adoption. By combining real-time monitoring of soil temperature, humidity, and acidity with data from weather stations, FarmBeats builds models that optimize crop production and sustainability. This partnership places Microsoft's platform on a pathway to success. It brings big data and expertise to the platform to enable the spread of digital agriculture, opening new business opportunities for IoT sensors and associated technologies."

U.S. government withdraws tariff exemption for bifacial modules

Patricia Seoane Da Silva Lux Research Patricia Seoane da Silva, Research Associate 
Lux Take: Very Important

"This policy U-turn comes shortly after U.S. authorities announced a 30% tariff exemption for bifacial modules, raising questions about market implications and technology prospects. Unlike typical PV panels, bifacial modules absorb light from both sides and can increase annual yield by as much as 15%. While the initial tariff exemption fueled optimistic forecasts around falling prices and growing bifacial share, this decision will likely slow down technology adoption in the U.S. market. However, the situation is less adverse when looking at the big picture: The PV industry continues to embrace high-efficiency solutions, and bifacial modules will still take off as long as consistent in-field gains are proved."

Livongo lands U.S. federal contract for diabetes management

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

"The digital health juggernaut Livongo has landed a contract with the U.S. Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), not only reinforcing its premier status in the digital health landscape with the addition of up to 8 million new users but also further legitimizing the growing role of digital health. Digital health tools, and more specifically mHealth apps, are widely recognized as valuable in the healthcare space but are typically offered as supplemental offerings by employers, rather than tying them into any comprehensive healthcare plan. By securing a place in a federal benefits package, Livongo has established its value to all providers not just as a niche solution, but as a valuable resource."

Coca-Cola, Indorama Ventures, and Ioniqa produce 300 bottles with 25% recycled marine plastic

Hewage, GihanGihan Hewage, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"Coca-Cola acknowledged that this announcement is a small step toward its longer-term sustainability goals – volunteers will not be able to collect enough plastic to produce anywhere near the 3 million tons of plastic Coca-Cola uses today. While this waste accumulation route is not scalable, the announcement is still very important, as it shows that Ioniqa can actually convert low-quality ocean plastics for food contact applications."

Is blockchain the answer to plastic waste? (Spoiler: No)

Mike Holman Lux Research Michael Holman, Ph.D., Vice President, Research | @MichaelHolmanLR Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Two new projects tout the use of blockchain to deal with plastic waste: Covestro and Domo working with startup Circularise to enable traceability of plastics, and social startup Plastic Bank collaborating with IBM on providing disadvantaged people with digital rewards for collecting plastic waste. Despite the buzz around both blockchain and circular economy, neither passes the tests we laid out for blockchain use cases. While they have a large number of stakeholders, where trust may be lacking, both rely on centralized authorities (to certify plastics in the first place, or to process rewards) and appear to lack mechanisms to add raw data in a trustworthy and automated manner otherwise – a blockchain is only as good as its data."

AgSquared and Native AgTech partner to link digital technology throughout the supply chain

13463-thumb-squareLaura Krishfield, Research Associate @LKrishfield Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"AgSquared provides data from its farm management platform to Native AgTech's digital marketplace for high-quality produce. AgSquared gives its users a space to sell and increase the value of their produce; Native gains new business from AgSquared's users and added transparency for its food aggregation. The demand for transparency may not be relevant for consumers in the long term; however, the ability to recognize high-quality crops among products from multiple growers will be of interest to buyers and suppliers. Companies should expect more partnerships between farm management systems developers and e-commerce platforms; look to leverage comprehensive solutions that connect production practices and crop quality to suppliers' demands."

World's largest car sharing company to withdraw from five cities by year's end

Chad Goldberg  Lux ResearchChad Goldberg, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance

"App-based vehicle rental company Car2Go will cease operations in five North American cities, despite 2018 being the company's best financial year on record. The company cites the increasingly competitive mobility landscape as the decision catalyst, though by no means should this cause concern of a dying ride-share industry, especially considering Car2Go's ongoing success in Montreal and New York City. Remember that Car2Go entered the market in 2009, when its only real competition was traditional car rental services, but today's crowded mobility market no doubt requires additional strategy consideration. Lux views the withdrawal as simply an indication that companies will need to take a more strategic approach to finding product market fit."

Hydrogen Renewables Australia plans 5 GW green hydrogen plant with Siemens

Tim Grejtak Lux Research Tim Grejtak, Analyst | @TheEnergyNerd Ico twitter
Lux Take: Low Importance

"Australian developer Hydrogen Renewables Australia (HRA) announced plans for a 5 GW wind-and-solar-powered renewable hydrogen facility in Kalbarri on Australia's western coast. HRA is collaborating with Siemens, which will be the supplying the electrolyzer. The project is structured in phases: 1) supplying hydrogen to local vehicles, 2) blending hydrogen with natural gas in a nearby pipeline, and 3) exporting hydrogen to Asian markets. Like other large energy projects from smaller developers, success will depend heavily on partners to capitalize the project and off-take agreements. Companies should interpret this as Australia valorizing renewable assets locally; hydrogen for export requires infrastructure that will take decades to roll out."

Lamborghini forgoes Li-ion batteries for supercapacitors in its Sian mild-hybrid

11997-thumb-square Chloe Holzinger, Analyst | @ChloeHolzinger Ico twitter
Lux Take: Ignore

"Unveiled at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show, Lamborghini's Sian is a mild-hybrid electric vehicle (mHEV) supercar that uses supercapacitors developed in an MIT research lab instead of a traditional Li-ion battery pack. The automaker chose supercapacitors to remain consistent with its brand, as supercapacitors' high charge/discharge rates help with cornering, reducing torque hits while gear shifting, and increasing traction. However, CTO Maurizio Reggiani admits supercapacitors are not the ideal choice for emissions or mileage, and Sian production will be limited to 63 vehicles. Companies should recognize this use of supercapacitors is based on performance and shouldn't infer any impacts on supercap use in mHEVs in mass-produced vehicles."


- Blog: Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up October 4, 2019

- Tech Page: Suprecapacitors (Members Only)

- Blog: Key Indicators to Identify Suitable Markets for VPPs

- Report: Ellen MacArthur Foundation: One Year Later (Members Only)

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