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TECH TRENDS 6 energy tech trends for 2021

Author / Editor: Claudia Klinsmann / Jochen Schwab

Two of the hottest sectors in the ESG revolution right now are hydrogen and absolutely anything that ties into the $5 trillion global transportation industry. Investors are piling into hydrogen – a potential solution for a clean energy future – and it's now predicted to become an $11 trillion marketplace by 2050.

Related Companies

(Source: gemeinfrei / Pexels )

Mentioned in this commentary includes: Bloom Energy Corporation (NYSE: BE), Blink Charging Co. (NASDAQ: BLNK), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), XPeng Inc. (NYSE: XPEV), Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN).

It simultaneously compliments and competes with the explosively growing EV sector, where Tesla is predicted to be on track to become a $1-trillion company, or even $2 trillion, by some estimations, up from its current $400 billion. The profound transportation revolution that's unfolding at the moment has so many verticals, it's dizzying.

From a mad scramble to get out more vehicles and steal market share, to battery battles, the race for the best charging solution, carbon-offset ride-sharing and landmark EV car subscription services…. a lot is at stake floating around this huge space. A massive $250 billion is now managed by ESG index funds, making ESG an investing megatrend that's soared over two years.

Over 3,000 investors with over $110 trillion in assets under management have signed on to the Principles for Responsible Investment, which supports its signatories incorporating ESG factors into their investment and ownership decisions. Another industry-led group of 70 members with $9 trillion in assets under management are following suit. That's $119 trillion in investments looking for an ESG angle.

This is Big Capital's new safe haven. But it's not just a safe haven. It's becoming a very lucrative element on Wall Street. It's outperforming the market. For the first time in U.S history, corporate America is embracing sustainability and there are some lucrative opportunities.
Here are six hot trends with a solid ESG element for a tech-driven energy solution:

#1 The hydrogen boom is in full swing

A recent survey of 1,000 industry executives concluded that hydrogen fuel cell technology will ultimately outperform battery-powered EVs. Technological advances and a ton of money piling into R&D have revived hydrogen for a potentially massive comeback.

From the European Union's ambitious hydrogen strategy and giant utilities switching to hydrogen to Wall Street doubling down on the predicted $11 trillion hydrogen marketplace by 2050, hydrogen is now in overdrive, and some fuel cell companies are seeing their stocks soar as FCEVs (fuel cell electric vehicles) take center stage. One of the most exciting is Bloom Energy (BE).

California-based Bloom designs, manufactures and sells solid-oxide fuel cell systems. And, yes, there's been a ton of cash burn up to this point, but it's heralding massive innovation--and that's what tech startups are all about. Growth runways, not immediate profit.

That's why we are willing to throw tons of money at our innovative future. Eventually, the narrative changes and for the successful companies, the cash burn stops and there starts to be payback for investors. Anyone who didn't get in on time got left in the innovation dust. That's what's already happening with Bloom. Savvy investor patience is paying off. Bloom is now on track to be the first fuel cell maker to become cash-flow positive.

In a year, it's gained over 312%. For investors who got in October, 2019 at $3.69 and then cashed out in early October 2020 when the stock hit $22.92, they would have been rewarded with a 521% gain.

And this could all be about to get even bigger. Why? Because this relatively small company is thinking in huge terms: We're not just talking about fuel cells for construction vehicles or to power remote electricity generation … Bloom is thinking far bigger than that: It's targeting utility scale applications of fuel cells. It's targeting industrial-scale applications. And in the process, it's attracting some very big names.

Bloom has recently announced a series of high-profile partnerships, including a JV with Samsung Heavy Industries and a second with a major South Korean engineering and construction company. Those partnerships could lead to a massive uptick in fuel cell deployments and analysts are looking at a potential for Bloom to increase its sales by seven times. This may be a newly re-emerging sector, but it's riding a huge wave and of all the hydrogen bets out there, this one seems the most clear-cut path to grabbing a piece of this momentum.

#2 A multi-pronged approach

Canadian Facedrive (FD.V; FDVRF) has to be singled out here because it's probably the smartest company we've seen in its strategy of tying itself into multiple tech-driven ESG industries for maximum impact and tons of verticals.

While its flagship ride-sharing platform threw a major challenge to giants Uber and Lyft by being the first in the world to grasp the ESG megatrend by offering carbon-offset rides, planting trees along the way and letting people choose EVs or hybrids …

That was just one major launch out of an entire ESG ecosystem. The news flow has been absolutely stunning. The past few months have seen this company strike a series of landmark deals and attract some of the biggest names in tech, energy and transportation. (And even on the Major League Sports arena).

In September, Facedrive scooped up Washington, DC, based-Steer in a deal that included a $2-million strategic investment by energy giant Exelon's wholly-owned subsidiary, Exelorate Enterprises, LLC. This is where we get to combine the $5 trillion global transportation industry with an energy industry whose renewables sector alone will grow dramatically in a matter of years.

Facedrive and Steer have set out to revolutionize transportation by completely changing the way we view car ownership. It will be a huge boon for the already explosive EV industry because anyone who couldn't afford a Tesla... or perhaps an Audi e-Tron… can now drive one, with Steer's EV subscription service.

Giant Exelon's (EXC) isn't the only big market-cap company tied into Facedrive, either. Amazon (AMZN) has also joined Facedrive's Corporate Partnership Program, along with Canadian Tier 1 telecoms company, Telus. In August, Facedrive (FD.V; FDVRF) acquired Tally Technologies, the high-tech major league sports predicting startup founded by NFL superstar Russel Wilson.

In yet another tech-ESG vertical, in October, Facedrive signed a deal with Air Canada to launch a pilot project for its employees using proprietary COVID-19 contact-trading technology, TraceSCAN. That gives it a spot in the frontline of the global healthcare industry's battle with the pandemic.

It also ties Facedrive (FD.V; FDVRF) into the $7.6T global travel and tourism industry, which is facing $1 trillion in losses due to the pandemic and is expected to shed 100 million jobs before the year is out.

#3 Electric vehicle infrastructre

Blink Charging (BLNK)an electric vehicle charging company, has seen its stock price rise by over 400% this year alone, and it's showing no signs of slowing. A flurry of new deals, including a collaboration with EnerSys have created some support for the relative newcomer.

Michael D. Farkas, Founder, CEO and Executive Chairman of Blink noted, "This is an exciting collaboration with EnerSys because it combines the industry-leading technologies of our two companies to provide user-friendly, high powered, next-generation charging alternatives. We are continuously innovating our product offerings to provide more efficient and convenient charging options to the growing community of EV drivers."

Another high-profile deal between Blink and Envoy Technologies to deploy electric vehicles and charging stations adds further support. Aric Ohana, CEO of Envoy noted, "We're excited to work with Blink on the deployment of their fast Level 2 charging stations as part of our exclusive electric car-sharing service."

#4 Big tech solutions

It's no secret that Apple (AAPL) has always thought outside of the box. And when it brought back Steve Jobs in 1997, the company really took off. Jobs also paved the way to a greener future for the company. From the products themselves, to the packages they came in, and even the data centers powering them, Steve Jobs went above and beyond to cut the environmental impact of his company.

After his passing, Tim Cook took these principles to heart, and picked up the torch, transforming all of Apple's operations into models of a sustainable future. Now, all of Apple's operations run on 100% renewable energy.

"We proved that 100 percent renewable is 100 percent doable. All our facilities worldwide—including Apple offices, retail stores, and data centers—are now powered entirely by clean energy. But this is just the beginning of how we're reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. We're continuing to go further than most companies in measuring our carbon footprint, including manufacturing and product use. And we're making great progress in those areas too," CEO Tim Cook explained.

#5 Riding the Chinese electric vehicle wave

Xpeng Inc. (XPEV) is a relative newcomer in the electric vehicle scene, but it has seen tremendous success in its short time on the market. The Chinese electric vehicle giant is riding on the coattails of Tesla and Nio, but has carved out its own demand, especially among Robinhood traders looking for the next big score. Since its NYSE debut in August, the ambitious electric vehicle company has risen by more than 44% thanks to its promising financials and growing demand for its stylish vehicles.

In addition to retail interest, Xpeng has also received a ton of interest from Big Money. Earlier this year the company raised over $500 million from the likes of Aspex, Coatue, Hillhouse Capital and Sequoia Capital China , and even more recently, secured another $400 million from heavy hitters such as Alibaba, Qatar Investment Authority and Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund Mubadala.

#6 Clean E-Commerce supply chain

Amazon (AMZN) too is jumping on board the sustainability train. On multiple fronts. Last year, CEIO Jeff Bezos launched a $10 billion climate change fund, but that was only the beginning. Amazon is also making major moves to clean up its act. The company is investing big on the transportation of tomorrow, leading a $700 million investment round in the electric vehicle startup, Rivian. It has also acquired a robo-taxi startup, Zoox.

In addition to its transportation push, Amazon has pledged to go completely carbon neutral by the year 2040, a full decade ahead of the Paris Climate Agreement. As a part of that pledge, the tech giant is also looking to power all of its operations by 100% renewable energy within the next five years.

Despite criticism of the company, it's undeniable that its business model and commitment to doing better is resonating with investors. This year alone, Amazon has seen its stock price jump from $1898 to $3128, representing a 65% return for investors who have managed to hold on.

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