January 02, 2024
On Hydrogen Forklifts, Bitcoin Mining and Green Fertilizer
The common thread among the disparate things in the title is hydrogen, whether green, gray or pitch black. What, you might ask does hydrogen have to do with forklifts, cryptocurrency and green fertilizer? Read on. Let’s start with forklifts. Recently they splashed across screens again, as Amazon installed a hydrogen electrolyzer from Plug Power at one of its Colorado distribution centers to make hydrogen for 225 hydrogen forklifts that it’s oddly using. It’s worth unpacking this a bit. Are hydrogen forklifts a thing? Well, not really. There are about 50,000 of them in operation globally since the first was built 64 years ago. That’s about eight a year, so they really aren’t flying off the shelves. Meanwhile, 1.2 million battery electric forklifts were purchased in 2021 alone. That’s a homeopathic solution of hydrogen forklifts. Where are these 50,000 forklifts? Almost entirely in the USA, with handfuls in Europe and Japan and one in South Korea. Why does the USA have virtually all of them, or in fact more than a handful of the dead end technology? Well, as I was unsurprised to find when digging through Ballard’s history of losing an average of $55 million a year since 2000 with its governmentally funded and failed trials of various hydrogen vehicles, it goes back to the US Department of Energy. The DOE gave a bunch of warehouse operators including Amazon a lot of money to install hydrogen refueling and buy forklifts. The US DOE continues to count this as a win in recent publications, saying that it’s been a commercial success since almost half were bought without governmental largesse, but analysis makes it clear that it’s almost entirely firms which had subsidized hydrogen refueling and forklifts that bothered to buy more of them. Nothing like inertia, even with one of the lightest molecules in the world. The other thing that was obvious from looking at the history of hydrogen vehicles including forklifts is that they virtually all are running on gray or even black hydrogen, with 11 to 35 kg of CO2e per kg of hydrogen fuel. Nothing virtuous about that, it just meant that diesel wasn’t stinking up the inside of warehouses, something that the rest of the world quietly achieves with batteries and no massive handouts of taxpayer money. But the Amazon warehouse is going to be running on green hydrogen, isn’t it? No, not at all. It’s going to be running the electrolyzer off Colorado grid electricity , which has a carbon intensity of 512 grams of CO2e per kWh. That turns into 23 kilograms of CO2e per kilogram of hydrogen. That’s not green, that’s pitch black, with a carbon intensity twice that of gray hydrogen and of course three to four times more than just using the electricity directly in battery electric forklifts. Oh, and there is no pathway from hydrogen forklifts to hydrogen freight trucks as some headlines insisted. Hydrogen forklifts have tanks that are pressurized to 350 atmospheres of pressure, not the 700 to 800 required for big trucks. Having a one MW electrolyzer on site will mean that instead of paying likely US$11 per kilogram for delivered hydrogen, they’ll pay about $6.00 per kilogram just for the energy at Colorado electricity rates. That electrolyzer probably cost well north of the cheapest alkaline electrolyzer it’s possible to buy, with the IEA indicates currently costs US$400 per MW. At a more likely $800 per MW, that’s $800,000 for that bit of kit in the warehouse. The 225 forklifts require about 300 kg of hydrogen a year each, and the electrolyzer can make about 22 kg an hour at peak production. That tells us they are planning to run it about 35% of the time. Assuming it lasts 10 years — I know, generous — that would add about $1.20 to every kilogram of hydrogen. Add a bit for other bits of kit like the dehumidifier and it’s perhaps $8-$9 per kilogram hydrogen instead of $11 hydrogen. There’s no evidence that the US DOE or other governmental agency is funding this in any of the press, but frankly it wouldn’t surprise me. Regardless, not an indication that we’ll be bowing to our hydrogen-powered overlords, just a weird US legacy cruft use case that’s remarkably even less green than what it was before. Which brings us to Bitcoin and fertilizer. Late last year someone pointed out that a green hydrogen play for Shawinigan, Quebec, hometown of a former Canadian Prime Minister and a string of deeply suspicious hotel fires, wasn’t for anything useful, but was actually being promoted by a hydrogen van company, First Hydrogen. I assessed that and arrived at a fairly fully burdened cost of manufacturing hydrogen at Quebec industrial rates, including balance of plant, electricity rates and some financing and profits, of about US$3.24 per kilogram. That’s very good, likely close to the best possible price for manufacturing green hydrogen anywhere in the world. That’s undelivered, just sitting in a tank at the facility a long way from any off takers, as there’s nothing in the steadily declining retirement community that needs hydrogen. The plans to build 25,000 hydrogen vans in Shawinigan to create demand for the stuff make absolutely no sense, and in any event First Hydrogen is deeply undercapitalized, has three CEOs in a 16 person firm and a UK case study that makes it clear that their van is economically dead in the water. The hydrogen was also very low carbon, around 0.08 kilograms of CO2e debt per kilogram of hydrogen, well under the Hydrogen Science Coalition clip level of a kilogram of CO2e per kilogram of hydrogen. Cheap and low-carbon hydrogen is definitely required. But it begged the question of me: if it were cheap and green, what’s an actually useful use case for the stuff in Quebec, even if not in Shawinigan. That led me to work out the cost implications of manufacturing green ammonia for fertilizer in Quebec , and it was only 66% more expensive — roughly — than gray hydrogen manufactured elsewhere in Canada per ton. Too high, but actually quite close once Canada’s 2030 carbon price is added to the gray hydrogen, still below the cost of importing ammonia from the USA and definitely in the money in 2030 with the EU’s carbon border adjustment mechanism. Fertilizer and commodity manufacturing and distribution giants Yara and Trammo are already operating in Quebec, and there is a detailed set of plans for a gray hydrogen ammonia fertilizer plant in Becancour that can be dusted off and reprinted on actually green paper. All that required was about 400 MW of electricity 24/7/365. I acknowledged that there was a problem of additionality without getting into it much, and was promptly called on it by a couple of people. After all, as I noted around the inane hydrogen tourist train three month trial in the province, the low carbon electricity was fully subscribed already. The Minister responsible had rejected 9 GW of green hydrogen requests for electricity, so there’s none left over for green ammonia. Here’s where bitcoin enters into the picture. All of that lovely, stable, dirt cheap and (besides the point for them) green electricity had attracted a lot of bitcoin miners. Part of the oversubscription of Quebec’s power meant that they had very publicly decided to stop providing electricity to bitcoin miners. But not really. What they really did was stop permitting new commercial crypto mining operations for substantial electricity draws. They didn’t shut down the old ones. And given that bitcoin mining in the province dates back to at least 2018 and the mining operation I could find data on was pulling 98 MW, a quarter of what would be required for a 1,000 ton a day green ammonia plant, there’s an obvious solution. Hence, my updated recommendation to Quebec. Get Yara and Trammo on board, turn Yara’s terminal on the St. Lawrence into an ammonia export terminal, set up an integrated green hydrogen and ammonia manufacturing facility at Becancour, and remove electricity rights from 400 or more MW of bitcoin miners to power it. LinkedIn WhatsApp Facebook X Email Mastodon Reddit
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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