Welcome back! Today's Smart Brevity count: 990 words, < 4 minute read.
Tomorrow marks 25 years since Neil Young & Crazy Horse released "Sleeps with Angels," so we'll open with their churning, melancholy brilliance...
Late yesterday brought word that investment giant SoftBank Vision Fund was pouring $110 million into Energy Vault, a startup with new technology for long-duration energy storage.
Why it matters: It's the first investment by the Vision Fund in the energy storage space. (It has staked Uber, Slack and other well-known companies.)
The big picture: Per Quartz's Akshat Rathi, "[I]t’s an unusually large sum for a company that hasn’t even existed for two years or built a full-scale prototype."
How it works: The Swiss startup has developed a new method for long-duration storage — something that's important for enabling very high levels of intermittent renewables on power grids.
What they're saying: “If you look at a lot of the estimates in the world for what energy storage investment is going to look like over the next 10-20-30 years, the numbers are anywhere from $300 billion to $600 billion,” Energy Vault CEO Robert Piconi tells CNBC.
What's next: Tests of whether and how fast the company can move beyond the small prototype phase. Quartz reports the investment will help build full-scale prototypes in Italy and India and then 35 MWh-capacity multiple towers for customers "soon after."
Remember the heady moments on Tuesday morning, when crude prices spiked on news of a pause in escalation of the U.S.-China trade fight? It was short-lived.
Driving the news: Oil prices — both WTI and the global benchmark Brent crude — fell sharply yesterday and are dropping again Thursday morning.
What's new: "China signaled on Thursday it may retaliate against President Donald Trump’s plans for tariffs on a further $300 billion of Chinese goods," Bloomberg reports.
Where it stands: This morning, Brent was trading around $58.58 and WTI at $54.96.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
General Motors is laying down huge, simultaneous bets on electric cars and self-driving technology, a strategic gamble based on its belief that future automated vehicles will run only on electricity, Axios' Joann Muller reports.
Why it matters: It's a risky bet that few can stomach, especially if EVs and AVs are slow to be accepted by consumers. Other carmakers, like Ford, see near-term limitations to battery-electric AVs and favor a more measured approach.
Between the lines: GM believes both technologies are approaching a tipping point and hopes they will propel it to the forefront of a massive industry shift toward shared, self-driving electric cars.
The big picture: Automakers are split on the path to electrification, the Wall Street Journal ($) reports.
Speaking of EVs, the installment of the Energy Department's handy "Transportation Fact of the Week" series that ran during Generate's break last week provides a helpful breakdown of the U.S. market.
Quick take: It shows that automakers have a wide open market when it comes to trying to build SUVs that may appeal to U.S. drivers. SUVs are over 40% of total U.S. vehicle sales.
Geopolitics: "The US has put a major state-owned Chinese nuclear power company, a partner for the UK’s power generation programme, on its export blacklist, over accusations of stealing US technology for military use," per FT ($).
EV charging: BP said Thursday that it has deployed its first 150kW "ultra-fast" EV charging stations at a retail fuel site in the U.K., calling it the "first in a planned network of ultra-fast charging infrastructure stretching across the U.K."
Wind: Greentech Media explores how offshore wind farms in China, the U.K. and elsewhere are getting really, really big, with some having as much capacity (reminder: this is not actual generation) as small nuclear reactors.