Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up June 10, 2022

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Every day our researchers read through the top innovation headlines and provide their expert opinions on important developments and industry news. Our analysts then evaluate news based on potential importance ranking the developments from Truly Disruptive to Ignore.

On Fridays we highlight our Lux Take on the top news for the week. Check out our thoughts on the latest emerging technology and innovation news for the past week below. 

First 60 MW out of a 1,000-MW Caes System Goes Online in China

Juan Cortes

Juan Cortes, Research Associate

Lux Take: Very Important

“The 60-MW/300-MWh project deployed in Changzhou City uses underground salt caverns to store the compressed air and release it during peak-demand periods. According to the developers, the system has a roundtrip efficiency of 60% and is expected to scale up to become a 1-GW compressed air energy storage (CAES) system. In 2021, the Institute of Engineering Thermophysics announced the commercial operation of the first 10 MW of a 1.25-GW/7.5-GWh CAES system; the development of these projects aligns with China’s target to deploy at least 30 GW of nonhydropower storage by 2025. Currently, the country is one of the leaders in the production and installation of Li-ion batteries. Nevertheless, as we noted in our previous insight, China is making significant investments in the R&D of long-duration energy storage technologies, mainly CAES and flow batteries. These technologies will be key as more unpredictable energy technologies are connected to the power grid, especially for storing backup power to confront seasonal fluctuations.”

Walmart to Bring Automation to Distribution Centers Through Symbotic

Brian O'Shea

Brian O’Shea, Research Associate

Lux Take: Very Important

“The partnership with Symbotic, a provider of warehouse automation solutions via autonomous mobile robots, was originally planned for just 25 of Walmart’s regional distribution warehouses, but has been expanded to include all 42 centers. In late 2021, Symbotic decided to go public through a deal with SoftBank, a Japanese digital giant. The pandemic has pushed supply chain companies towards digital solutions. Large players like Walmart or Amazon drive external funding into these markets, as can be seen with Agility Robotics after Amazon’s investment and Walmart investee GreyOrange. Clients with an interest in automation should begin to look for investment and partnership options as funding continues to flow into the market.”

Beyond Meat Faces Lawsuit over Protein Content in Its Products

Abby Terrio

Abby Terrio, Senior Research Associate

Lux Take: Very Important

“Don Lee Farms filed suit against Beyond Meat, claiming that Beyond was engaging in false advertising and unfair competition. Don Lee was previously a co-manufacturer for Beyond Meat, and they have tussled in court since the end of the contract in 2017. The new lawsuit alleges that Beyond overstated the amount of protein in its products by up to 30%. It also accuses Beyond of misleading consumers by claiming its products are made without synthetic ingredients while using methylcellulose. Clients in the plant-based proteins space should monitor these lawsuits to see if they correlate with increased scrutiny on labeling claims or nutrition panel declarations. It may also exacerbate Beyond’s financial woes by impacting consumer perception.”

Locus Robotics Partners with SVT Robotics to Increase Warehouse Automation

Brian O'Shea

Brian O’Shea, Research Associate

Lux Take: Very Important

“The pairing will see Locus leverage SVT Robotics’ fleet management software SOFTBOT to speed the deployment of autonomous mobile robots for fulfillment-warehouse applications. The partnership will aim to integrate its hardware–software solution quickly with any customer’s warehouse management system. With the global supply chain still impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic along with a stark rise in e-commerce, many manufacturers and distributors are looking for a way to move toward lights-out solutions. Clients with e-commerce businesses should see this as a larger trend toward digitalization in the warehouse and look to engage in warehouse automation partnerships in the near future.”

Cruise Can Now Charge Fares for Driverless Robotaxi Rides in San Francisco

Anirudh Bhoopalam

Anirudh Bhoopalam, Analyst

Lux Take: Average Importance

“With its new Driverless Deployment Permit from the California Public Utilities Commission, Cruise can charge passengers of its driverless robotaxis. Previously, the company was allowed only to do this with vehicles that had a safety driver. The company has not yet revealed any details such as the amount or when it intends to begin charging for the driverless rides. In any case, profitability at this stage is not realistic. Cruise will therefore likely be using the approval to assess customer willingness to pay certain amounts to inform its longer-term pricing strategy.”

Solid Power’s EV Battery Pilot Line Set to Produce Cells for Automotive Validation by End of 2022

Chloe Herrera

Chloe Herrera, Analyst

Lux Take: Average Importance

“Solid Power announced its newly installed electric vehicle (EV) battery production line will be able to produce 300 cells per week, or 15,000 cells per year. Assuming the company is producing 36-Ah cells that allow for full pouch formation, its initial production capacity will reach just shy of 2 MWh. In 2021, Solid Power targeted near-term production of cells using silicon anodes, and cells delivered to BMW and Ford will have 50% silicon content. Armed with a technology development partnership from SK Innovation, the company will need to optimize its production to easily integrate with existing battery manufacturing processes while meeting automotive battery requirements. Clients should expect to see steady progress from Solid Power as it scales, but note that it is still years out from vehicle use.”

Toyota Joins Other Automakers in Launching Vehicle-to-Home Power System

Christopher Robinson

Christopher Robinson, Research Director 

Lux Take: Average Importance

“Toyota’s “O-Uchi Kyuden System,” which includes an 8.7-kWh battery and requisite power electronics to integrate both rooftop solar and a bidirectional charger for use with Toyota plug-in vehicles, is slated for launch this year in Japan and will launch globally at a later undisclosed date. This announcement mirrors other automakers, such as Ford and Volkswagen, which are pursuing residential, bidirectional charging aimed to provide backup power in the event of a grid outage. Toyota is leveraging its own electric vehicle technology to offer the system, borrowing batteries and battery controllers from its vehicles. Clients should take note of yet another large automaker pursuing vehicle-to-home charging, but recognize that, like other offerings from automakers, bidirectional charging is being first targeted for home backup power.”

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