The S-Curve: Musings on Technology, Professional Career, and Investments

  • The cumulative installed capacity of solar increased from 1.2GW in 2000 to 633GW in 2019. While cleantech 1.0 timeframe focused on gen 1.0 solar — e.g. improving solar cell efficiency, the current gen 2.0 solar is part of the building block of the energy services that companies like Enphase and SolarEdge are building.
  • 14GWh of lithium-ion capacity was installed in 2014, and it grew to 198GWh by 2017. With a gigafactory a week being built in China, the pace of installed capacity will only continue.
  • As the cost of sequencing a human genome dropped from $100 million in 2000 to less than $1000, we’re witnessing the growth of new applications, e.g. liquid biopsy, NIPT gaining more adoption.
  • Hydrogen — with the use of hydrogen thus far limited to niche applications (e.g. forklifts), we’re witnessing bold policy actions by several countries, larger applications (e.g. heavy transport, renewables) becoming at or below cost parity. It’s not surprising that many analysts predict that the hydrogen economy will be multi-trillion dollars by 2050.
  • Li-ion battery recycling — with the convergence of robotics, AI, and the fact that less than 5% of the batteries are recycled, its’ creating ripe opportunities for recycling of li-ion batteries. Coupled with the fact that by 2030, it’s projected that 26 million Electric Vehicles (EVs) will be bought globally, there will be a ‘supply’ of 1.7 million metric tons of used batteries. Expect to see economical use of these from second-life batteries to mineral recovery to become more important.
  • Energy + Mobility — the convergence of these two sectors (a topic which I wrote here as well) will become stronger; primarily driven by energy storage. The ying-yang of product innovation that improves EVs, also will become more important in the energy services, from backup power to grid services.
  • At a Large Company — how are you investing in your innovation programs? How are you developing your portfolio to grow your Core but also incubate along the edges?
  • An Individual — what new skill will you learn to solve for your Career-Market fit?
  • An Investor — how might the second and third order effect of technology convergence inform or change your investment thesis?

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Nitin Vaish

Nitin Vaish

Decarbonization Solutions at Scale: Commercialization | Products | Investments