Currently petrol and diesel is mostly used for transportation whilst electricity is mostly used for powering homes and businesses. It’s a nice setup with each having their own huge industry that they command. They also rarely impede on the others turf and that’s been the case for a while. Until batteries came along.
As you might have noticed there is a huge shift happening in the Energy & Transport industries. The simple lithium ion battery is starting to make a big difference. It’s also beginning to merge them together too. Lithium ion is doing this via Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV’s) for Transport and Home/Grid Battery Storage for Energy. Together it’s poised to become hugely important in the future.
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Fighting The Good Fight
Now as it’s disrupting two major industries it’s to be expected that both of those industries would fight hard. Most major industries resist change as much as possible and try and stop it. The last thing oil companies or coal/gas generators want is for batteries to come in and trounce all over their juicy profits.
I don’t know how many times this has to happen for people, companies and the world to learn. But when technology enters a market, it pretty much always wins. Despite the almost guaranteed end result of technology winning it’s still quite fun to watch! As pointed out over 100 years ago the game normally goes something like this:
First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you. – Union leader Nicholas Klein, 1914
Fun fact, this quote (or the similar sounding one) is often attributed to Gandhi but he never said it!
The Leader In Batteries Disruption
The biggest known and most aggressively pushing company in the battery space now is Tesla. Panasonic, LG Chem and many more are also huge but Tesla has made its name around batteries.
As such they seem to be coping quite a bit of flack over the shift. For example currently the Koch brothers are funding a front group to produce and advertise misleading attack ads on BEV’s. In these ridiculous video’s they name Tesla in particular and then go on to state a number of incorrect facts.
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If we compare these actions to our handy glimpse back in history we can learn that Tesla seem to be all but one step away from dominating the Automotive and Battery Storage markets. Now I’m not sure if anyone will be building monuments of Elon anytime soon… but at the very least I think it’s clear he’s already well and truly accomplished the goal he set out to.
Some completely miss the mark and think his goal was to build a business that prints money. Others miss it slightly less thinking his goal was to build electric cars. The real goal, the one that has been plastered all over the Tesla website for literally a decade but that everyone constantly ignores is quite simple.
Batteries In The Future
Given their mission statement it looks like Tesla’s doing a spectacular job of it. Virtually all the major car manufacturers are now pursuing BEV’s. Furthermore over 20% of the world is planning on banning fossil fuel cars in the future. A study just this week also found that battery storage prices, the key ingredient to making a sustainable energy future possible, is dropping even faster than what solar and wind have dropped.
Energy storage projects may bring the cost per kWh of a lithium-ion battery down from $10,000/kWh in the early 1990’s to $100/kWh in 2019, according to a new study written by a research team from University of California and TU Munich in Germany, and published in Nature Energy.
This result, if confirmed, would indicate that prices for lithium-ion storage systems are dropping faster than PV or wind technologies, the scientists claim, and that the new combination of solar, wind and storage will soon be able to out compete coal and natural gas plants on cost alone, due to this price fall. – pv-magazine.com
To put this news in perspective solar alone has had such monumental price drops over the years that people compare the cost of solar in the graph below to a lightning bolt.
As you can see, traditional energy sources like coal and gas essentially stayed the same price or increased even after decades and decades of R&D. Solar being a technology comes in like a wrecking ball from high and has since trashed them all. Now we’re seeing batteries top even this astonishing price reduction!
Battery Advancements Are Speeding Up
This however shouldn’t really surprise anyone when you take a look at the overall industries. Solar is big no doubt about that. It’s also being rolled out in huge numbers all over the world, hell we’ve had solar panels on our roof for almost a decade now! But it is only involved in one industry, the power industry.
Batteries are outpacing solar/wind because it is a part of three huge industries. The energy industry, the automotive industry and the general technology/IT industry for phones, laptops etc.
When there’s more industries piling in on the R&D for the same technology it means more money. It means there’s more people and more resources all working towards the same goal. As such we’re seeing higher rates of price reductions and it should only accelerate now that Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 is coming online.
Do you think the oil, coal, gas and automotive industries are done attacking Tesla or do you think they’re coming around? Let us know in the comments below!
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