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Sustainability and Energy in 2023 – Forwarding Fusion, Managing Methane, and the EV Movement

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As we recently highlighted, the past year was significant for the Aerospace sector.  However, it is not alone in boasting fantastic achievements, as the closely linked Sustainability and Energy sectors have also seen promising advancements.  Below is a brief look at three of these and some of the companies that helped make such progress possible.

1. Forwarding Fusion: Ignition Achieved

When looking at each of the potential energy sources of the future, many seem no more than a stop-gap until Nuclear Fusion becomes a reality.  Often touted as the ‘holy-grail' of energy production, Nuclear Fusion is the same process that powers our Sun.  If harnessed, the output would be near limitless and, most importantly – clean.

Promisingly, this past year saw scientists achieve some of the most exciting advancements yet surrounding Nuclear Fusion, to the point that we may actually see it in use within the coming decades.  A few examples of this include the following.

  • Increased Fusion Energy Output:  A major milestone was achieved in achieving a net positive energy output from fusion reactions.  This means that the amount of energy produced by the fusion process exceeded the energy input required to initiate and sustain the reaction.  This breakthrough is pivotal in proving the feasibility of fusion as a practical energy source and is often referred to as ‘ignition'.
  • Advancements in Plasma Containment:  Significant progress was made in magnetic confinement technology, particularly in tokamaks and stellarators.  These devices, which use powerful magnetic fields to contain hot plasma, saw improvements in both stability and containment duration – each of which is essential for sustained fusion reactions.
  • Innovations in Laser Fusion:  Laser-driven inertial confinement fusion also saw considerable advancements.  Enhanced precision in laser targeting and improvements in fuel pellet design led to more efficient and consistent initiation of fusion reactions.  This approach is promising due to its potentially smaller and less expensive reactor design compared to magnetic confinement.
  • Materials Science Breakthroughs:  There were major developments in materials science, particularly in creating materials capable of withstanding the extreme conditions inside fusion reactors.  This includes advances in heat-resistant materials and innovative solutions to protect reactor walls from intense neutron bombardment, which is critical for the longevity and safety of fusion reactors.

Looking forward, these advancements are expected to continue accelerating our journey toward establishing a commercially viable fusion power plant.  In 2024, it is likely that a large focus will be placed on replicating and scaling successful experiments in addition to enhancing efficiency in fusion reactions.

With the potential to provide a near-limitless source of clean energy, Nuclear Fusion remains our best chance at transforming the global energy landscape, contributing significantly to reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change.  The continued investment in research and international collaboration will be key to realizing the full potential of nuclear fusion.

One notable publicly traded company heavily involved in advancing Nuclear Fusion is Lockheed Martin Corporation.

finviz dynamic chart for  LMT

MarketcapForward P/E 1 Yr.Earnings Per Share (EPS)
112,112,087,82816.60$27.37

Lockheed Martin is more than a pioneer in the aerospace and defense technology sectors; its efforts also extend to include heavy R&D in the cutting-edge science behind nuclear fusion.  For example, Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works division, renowned for its innovation in aviation and defense, has been actively developing the Compact Fusion Reactor (CFR).  This project aims to create a smaller, more efficient fusion reactor that could revolutionize energy generation.

Lockheed Martin: Compact Fusion Research & Development

While nuclear fusion research is a relatively small part of Lockheed Martin's overall business, the success of the CFR project could have significant long-term implications, potentially positioning the company at the forefront of a new era in sustainable energy.

2. Managing Methane

Shifting more towards sustainability, 2023 saw an increased focus on managing methane emissions.  While shorter lived than Carbon Dioxide, Methane is significantly worse for the environment due to its proclivity to prevent heat from escaping our atmosphere – worsening global warming in the process.  As it stands, the following areas are the top contributors for Methane emissions around the world.

  • Agriculture
  • Fossil Fuel Production
  • Waste Management

Interestingly, the past year saw the Bitcoin mining industry (which has long been viewed as a detriment to environmental efforts) become a potential boon instead, as it has the potential to directly tackle two of the above emitters – fossil fuel production and waste management.  This is seen primarily through the ability of Bitcoin mining to turn methane-flaring operations into a profitable exercise.  By providing landfills and oil rigs with the ability to monetize excess methane, the outfits can now capitalize on an emission product that was formerly going to waste and harming the environment.

With regards to such methane management initiatives, one company involved is Marathon Digital Holdings (Nasdaq: MARA).  Notably, as 2024 nears, MARA is one of the worlds most traded stocks.

finviz dynamic chart for  MARA

MarketcapForward P/E 1 Yr.Earnings Per Share (EPS)
6,442,769,323-312.33$-2.97

As mentioned, Marathon Digital Holdings has increasingly turned its attention towards environmental sustainability, particularly in managing methane emissions.  This focus aligns with the broader trend in the digital asset mining industry towards greater environmental responsibility, responding to growing investor and public concern about the ecological impact of such activities.  If successful, such efforts should transition Bitcoin mining from being an environmental burden to a boon.

"We Make MARA" | Marathon Digital Holdings

For investors, Marathon's initiatives in addressing methane emissions represent a proactive approach to balancing the high energy demands of digital asset mining with a commitment to environmental sustainability. This approach may not only help in aligning with regulatory trends favoring eco-friendly practices but could also enhance the company's reputation and long-term viability in a sector that is constnatly scrutinized for its environmental impact.

3. The EV Movement

Although hiccups are being felt in the Electric Vehicles (EVs) market to close out 2023, make no mistake – the future of mobility is EVs.  An increasing amount of governments are imposing new laws that will ban internal combustion engines (ICE) in cars and trucks in the coming years, and battery technology is continuing to improve, allowing manufacturers to offer vehicles with range and performance better than ever before.

As it stands, EVs suffer from poor infrastructure, and an unsustainable approach to battery technology.  Thankfully, each of these issues look to be well on their way to being remedied.  In 2023, we saw various large manufacturers sign agreements with Tesla to utilize their charging network, in addition to breakthroughs with solid-state batteries.

Solid-state batteries, in particular, may be the final piece needed to allow for EVs to become the definitively better option over ICE powered vehicles.  There are various reasons why such excitement exists around solid-state batteries – the primary of which is their potential for significantly higher energy density.  This means, all things equal, a solid state battery pack will provide more range compared to those currently being used.  This will allow for smaller battery packs to be used, making vehicles lighter, safer, quicker, and less of a stressor on the environment.  Some of their other perks include,

  • Safety (not flammable)
  • Legevity (can withstand more charge/discharge cycles before degradation)
  • Charging Rate (cant accept current quicker than existing options)

While there may be industry giants like Toyota working hard to develop solid-state batteries, there remains one company miles ahead of the competition with regard to its importance within the EV movement – Tesla, Inc (Nasdaq:TSLA).

finviz dynamic chart for  TSLA

MarketcapForward P/E 1 Yr.Earnings Per Share (EPS)
809,464,648,39797.38$3.11

Tesla's relentless focus on innovation and expansion has led to impressive sales figures and the strengthening of its global market presence.  The company has been expanding its manufacturing capabilities with new facilities, enhancing its models' performance and efficiency, and exploring new market segments.  Its most recent product, the Cybertruck, was one of the most anticipated vehicles from the past decade.

As a trailblazer in the EV market, Tesla has not only accelerated the global shift towards electric transportation but also set high standards in vehicle performance, technology integration, and sustainable energy solutions.  The company's consistent delivery of desirable EV models has helped popularize electric cars and challenge traditional automotive paradigms.

Tesla's vast network of Superchargers, its advancements in battery technology, and its exploration of autonomous driving capabilities further underscore its leading position in the industry. With a strong brand, growing global presence, and commitment to renewable energy, Tesla continues to be a significant force in driving the EV revolution forward.  This makes it a critical player for investors to watch in the evolving landscape of sustainable transportation.

*Figures provided above were accurate at the time of writing and are subject to change.  Any potential investor should verify metrics*