New report says hydrogen can meet 18 per cent of energy demand by 2050

A new study has detailed how hydrogen energy can make up around one-fifth of the total energy mix by 2050, helping to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius.

The report was commissioned by the Hydrogen Council, a coalition formed earlier this year featuring the CEOs of automotive and energy giants including Shell, Air Liquide, General Motors, Statoil, BMW and Toyota. Entitled Hydrogen, Scaling up, it provides a roadmap for the expansion of the sector. By 2030, 10 to 15 million cars and 500,000 trucks could be hydrogen-powered. Overall, total demand could increase tenfold to almost 80EJ (around 22,000TWh) by 2050, according to the study.

Seven particular areas were identified by the council where hydrogen energy can play a key role:

– Enabling large-scale renewable energy integration and power generation
– Distributing energy across sectors and regions
– Acting as a buffer to increase energy system resilience
– Decarbonising transportation
– Decarbonising industrial energy use
– Helping to decarbonise building heat and power
– Providing clean feedstock for industry

“The world in the 21st century must transition to widespread low carbon energy use,” said Takeshi Uchiyamada, chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation and co-chair of the Hydrogen Council.

“Hydrogen is an indispensable resource to achieve this transition because it can be used to store and transport wind, solar and other renewable electricity to power transportation and many other things. The Council has identified seven roles for hydrogen, which is why we are encouraging governments and investors to give it a prominent role in their energy plans. The sooner we get the hydrogen economy going, the better, and we are all committed to making this a reality.”

Investment of between $20-25bn per year up until 2030 will be required to scale the industry to the level outlined in the report. However, it is pointed out that there is currently around US$1.7 trillion invested in energy each year, including $650bn in oil and gas. The report also claims that the hydrogen sector has the potential to develop $2.5 trillion of business, creating more than 30 million jobs by 2050.

By reaching 18 per cent of the energy mix mid-century, it is estimated that six gigatons of CO2 would be reduced each year compared to today’s levels. This would meet 20 per cent of the total reductions required in the 2050 two-degree scenario.

“This study confirms the place of hydrogen as a central pillar in the energy transition, and encourages us in our support of its large-scale deployment” said Benoît Potier, chairman and CEO of Air Liquide.

“Hydrogen will be an unavoidable enabler for the energy transition in certain sectors and geographies. The sooner we make this happen the sooner we will be able to enjoy the needed benefits of hydrogen at the service of our economies and our societies.”

China dominates top supercomputers list

China has overtaken the US to have the most supercomputers in the list of the world’s fastest 500 systems.

The communist nation accounted for 202 of the globe’s highest performance machines, according to the latest Top500 survey.

By contrast, the US had 143. That marks its lowest level since the bi-annual study began, 25 years ago, but still secured it second place.

Japan placed third with 35 systems, and Germany fourth with 20.

In the previous survey, published in June, the US still had a lead of 169 supercomputers to China’s 160.

The reversal of fortunes reflects China’s increased investment in research and development – according to a recent study, the country now accounts for about 20% of the world’s total R&D expenditure.

Supercomputers are typically large, expensive systems featuring tens of thousands of processors designed to carry out specialised calculation-intensive tasks.

Examples Include:

– Climate change studies
– Nuclear weapons simulations
– Oil prospecting
– Weather forecasting
– DNA sequencing
– Modelling biomolecules

Performance is measured in petaflops (one thousand trillion floating point operations per second).

A flop can be thought of as a step in a calculation.

China’s fastest computer – the Sunway TaihuLight – maintained its lead as the world’s speediest, performing at 93 petaflops.

By contrast, the US’s fastest – Titan – ranks fifth in the world, with a maximum performance of 17.6 petaflops.

The list’s authors said the latest figures also indicated China had overtaken the United States in terms of aggregate performance, accounting for 35.4% of the list’s total processing power versus the US’s 29.6%.

Erich Strohmaier – one of the survey’s co-founders – told the BBC that many of the Chinese systems had been created to earn money, with the owners renting out their processing power to local and international firms.

“At the very high end – the systems in the top 10 – those are there for two reasons,” he added.

“One is simply the prestige attached with [being in the lead] in a market that used to be a prime example of US technology dominance.

“The other is to do with scientific exploration and national security – a lot of these systems are used for calculations related to weapons systems.”

GV PHOTO

Business Excellence: Gary Vaynerchuk Millionaire Entrepreneur

Gary Vaynerchuk is a Belarusian American entrepreneur, author, speaker and internet personality. First known as a wine critic who expanded his family’s wine business, Vaynerchuk is best known for his work in digital marketing and social media, leading New York–based companies VaynerMedia and VaynerX.

UK’s highest paid female boss ever is worth more than Richard Branson

Bet365 founder Denise Coates was paid a salary of £199,305,000 along with dividend payments of £18m last year. But who is the billionaire gambling boss who amassed a multi-billion pound fortune after founding Bet365 in a Portakabin in Stoke-on-Trent?

Who is Denise Coates?

The 50-year-old billionaire began her career as a cashier in her father’s betting shops, known as Provincial Racing. She graduated with a first class degree in econometrics from Sheffield University and became manager of the family business when she was 22, expanding it to almost 50 shops.

She started Bet365 – still a privately held company – from a temporary office in a Stoke car park in 2000 after reportedly buying the Bet365.com domain on eBay for $25,000 (£19,000).

“We mortgaged the betting shops and put it all into online,” she said in a 2012 interview with The Guardian. “We knew the industry required big startup costs but … we gambled everything on it. We were the ultimate gamblers if you like.”

The company has since become one the biggest online gambling firms in the UK as the industry has boomed. Ms Coates retains a majority stake in the company.

She was awarded a CBE in 2012 and was named one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK in 2013 Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. She has become known as the “patron of the Potteries” for employing a significant number of people in Stoke, however, Bet365 moved the base for much of its gambling operations to Gibraltar in 2014. Ms Coates now lives in a farmhouse in Sandbach, a market town in Cheshire, north of Stoke.

Why has she been paid £200m?

Bet365 customers wagered £47bn last year, an increase of more than £10bn on the previous year. Revenue from gambling in the 2016-17 financial year jumped 39 per cent to a record £2.15bn, while profits from gambling were up 15 per cent to £514m.

How does this compare with other pay packets?

The average pay for the bosses of Britain’s 100 largest publicly-listed companies was £4.5m last year, which was a fall of 17 per cent on the £5.4m awarded in 2015. Ms Coates has been awarded more than 40 times that sum, and more than four times last year’s highest FTSE 100 salary of £48.1m for Sir Martin Sorrell, of advertising group WPP. It’s also more than the £129m Taylor Swift is estimated to have earned last year.

Bet365 paid Ms Coates the equivalent of £3.8m per week, which is almost eight times more than FC Barcelona pay star player Lionel Messi, and 7,000 times the average full-time weekly earnings in the UK.

Even before the bumper £200m payment, Ms Coates and her family had £5bn in the bank, which is more than Sir Richard Branson, according to the most recent Sunday Times Rich List. Ms Coates is Britain’s wealthiest self-made female billionaire with her personal fortune currently estimated at £3.06bn, according to Forbes.

Controversy.

Some have expressed concern that Ms Coates’ enormous salary has come at the same time as the number of people’s lives hurt by gambling has risen.

Industry regulator the Gambling Commission estimates there are now 2 million people who are either problem gamblers or at risk of addiction.

A spokesperson for campaign group Fairer Gambling said on Monday: “As losses from Britain’s gamblers continue to spiral out of control, so has executive pay. The entire gambling industry donated just £8m to research, education and treatment last year. If these companies can afford to pay their executives millions of pounds a year, there is no excuse for such chronically underfunded treatment services.”

Coates said in a statement to shareholders that Bet365 was “committed to developing an evidence-based approach to responsible gambling”.

“To this end, the group continues to work with research partners on a number of projects to improve its methods of identifying harmful play and deliver more effective harm-minimisation interventions,” she said

“The group is assured that its efforts over the past year will continue to evolve over the coming months, and will make further progress in the prevention and minimisation of gambling-related harm.”

Government needs to spend additional £20bn on infrastructure each year

The Government should spend an additional £20bn on infrastructure investment each year and establish a German-style publicly-owned National Investment Bank, according to a prominent progressive think tank.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) will make the recommendation later this week.

Increasing investment spending by £20bn by 2021-22 would lift UK government investment as a share of GDP to around 3 per cent of GDP, which would be the highest for the UK since the financial crisis but still only roughly level to the OECD average.

The Bank of England raised interest rates earlier this month to 0.5 per cent on the basis of its view that there is virtually no longer any non-inflationary slack left in the British economy and that, without a higher cost of borrowing, price rises risks getting out of hand.

But the co-author of the IPPR report, Michael Jacobs, disagrees with the Bank and argues that there remains spare capacity in the UK, which ramped up investment spending from the state can help fill.

“The brute fact underlying our low productivity and investment rate is that the economy suffers from deficient demand. With businesses not investing enough, only the Government can take up the slack,” he argues.

Mr Jacobs also argues that with UK government borrowing rates on the market still negative in inflation-adjusted terms ministers have a golden opportunity to invest cheaply.

“At current negative real interest rates, next week’s Budget is the moment to increase public investment. It will pay for itself in higher growth and tax receipts,” he says.

The IPPR recommends that “much” of this funding could be delivered through a new publicly-owned National Investment Bank, modelled on Germany’s successful Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, which helped to rebuild the infrastructure of that country after the devastation of the Second World War.

The proposals for considerably higher public infrastructure spending and the establishment of a new public investment bank were in Labour’s June manifesto.

But the IPPR argument also chimes with calls made recently by the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, for the Chancellor to borrow considerably more in order to spend on the delivery of more housing.

An Economic Justice Commission run by the IPPR – to which this work on infrastructure will feed into – published an interim report in September which said Britain’s existing economic model was “broken”.

It’s members include Sir Charlie Mayfield of the John Lewis Partnership, Jurgen Maier, the boss of Siemens UK, the McKinsey managing partner Dominic Barton, the economist Mariana Mazzucato and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

The Commission’s final report will be published in the autumn of 2018.

General Electric slashes quarterly dividend ahead of restructuring

General Electric will radically shrink to focus on aviation, power and healthcare, betting on sectors it thinks it can make profits in, as the most famous US conglomerate tries to revive its share price after a decade and a half of stagnation.

The 125-year-old company cut its dividend and profit outlook in half as it begins the transition, in a widely expected plan unveiled on Monday by new chief executive John Flannery in New York.

GE shares fell 6 per cent to $19.22, its lowest in more than five years, valuing the entire company at about $168bn, as investors worried how the slimmed-down company would generate cash to justify its stock valuation.

“By the numbers, we see a core operating performance that is below plan, and, currently, a consensus expectations curve that we think remains too high,” said JPMorgan analyst Stephen Tusa.

GE is the worst-performing Dow component this year, down 35 per cent by Friday’s close. GE stock has effectively been dead money since September 2001, when recently retired chief executive Jeff Immelt took over, posting a negative total return even after reinvesting its juicy dividends.

Mr Flannery, who took over as CEO on 1 August, said he was “looking for the soul of the company again” and would focus on “restoring the oxygen of cash and earnings to the company.”

The transition likely means the sale of $20bn of assets. GE will jettison businesses with “a very dispassionate eye,” Flannery said, keeping only units that offer growth, a leading market position and a large installed base.

That could mean exiting businesses like lighting, transportation and oil and gas, closing factories around the globe, analysts said.

GE also plans to cut 25 per cent of corporate staff at its Boston headquarters. It has already started shedding jobs at its software business.

The dividend cut, only the third in the company’s 125-year history and the first not in a broader financial crisis, is expected to save about $4bn in cash annually.

“This dividend cut will be a major disappointment to GE’s (roughly 40 per cent) retail shareholder base,” said RBC Capital Markets analyst Deane Dray.

The cut will save GE $4.16bn in payouts, the eighth biggest dividend cut in history among S&P 500 companies, according to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst of S&P Dow Jones Indices. GE also had the biggest cut when it slashed its dividend by $8.87bn in 2009, Silverblatt said.

GE forecast adjusted 2018 industrial free cash flow of $6bn to $7bn, up from an estimated $3bn in 2017.

The move to make GE smaller and nimbler is a turnaround from the previous multi-business approach taken by former chief executives Jack Welch and Jeff Immelt.

Flannery’s changes repudiate much of Immelt’s vision of a “digital industrial” company that builds software to manage and optimize GE’s jet engines, power plants, locomotives and other products.

Conglomerates have long been out of favor on Wall Street, where investors prefer to bet on specific industries rather than a mixed portfolio.

GE forecast 2018 adjusted earnings per share of $1 to $1.07 per share, compared with its earlier estimate of $2 per share. Wall Street was expecting $1.16, according to Thomson Reuters.

The company on Monday cut its quarterly dividend to 12 cents per share, from 24 cents, starting in December.

GE’s dividend cut – a bid to save cash when the company’s cash flow is deteriorating – is the third in its history. The other two cuts came during the Great Depression and the global financial crisis of 2007-2009.

Flannery’s strategy is a turning point for the company, which over several decades built itself into a sprawling conglomerate with interests across media, energy, banking, aviation, railroads, marine engines and chemicals.

GE executives have said that analysts have undervalued the company’s digital business. They argue the digital units should be valued more like Amazon, Google and other fast-growing tech companies.

GE will also cut its board to 12 from 18 members.