ETS Interview: The Will the Real Transportation Fuel of the Future Step Forward

For macro reasons, I think that the next generation liquid fuels may be cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel or renewable diesel from algae.  But those fuels will increasingly be sharing the roads with the long term transportation fuel of the future: electricity from renewable sources, especially wind.  Wind will be important for electric transportation and electric transportation will be important for wind because, when you're already going to be charging batteries, you may as well do it when the electricity is cheap, which will be when the wind is blowing..   Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) neatly solve the main barrier...

DOE Reports That Lithium-ion Batteries Are Not Ready for Prime Time

by John Petersen Last month the DOE released its 2008 Annual Progress Report for the Energy Storage Research and Development Vehicle Technologies Program. This report is a frank and relatively upbeat assessment of the current status of Li-ion battery research and development that also provides a stark wake-up call for investors in energy storage stocks. The reality check has been done and the DOE’s verdict is clear: Lithium-ion batteries are not ready for prime time. In its description of ongoing research efforts to develop high-power batteries for HEVs, the DOE said: “High-power energy storage devices...

Plug-in Vehicles, Unconscionable Waste and Pollution Masquerading as Conservation

John Petersen For eighteen months I've been blogging about the energy storage sector and discussing the current and potential markets for batteries and other manufactured energy storage devices. A recurring theme that I've discussed many times is the unrecognized but undeniable truth that while plug-in vehicles masquerade as conservation measures at an individual level, they're incredibly wasteful at a societal level. The conclusion is counter-intuitive and my articles on the subject invariably draw heated criticism from self-anointed defenders of the faith. Their arguments, however, do not change the inescapable truth that plug-in vehicles are one of the most...

Energy Storage on the Smart Grid Will Be 99.45% Cheap and 0.55% Cool

7.17.09 Storage Week John Petersen Infocast’s Storage Week was all I had hoped it would be, and more. While I thoroughly enjoyed serving on three discussion panels and was warmly received by roughly 250 attendees, including executives of companies that I've occasionally criticized, the most important value for me came from the opportunity to hear four days of high-level presentations by industry executives, national thought leaders and policymakers who repeatedly stressed that: From a utility perspective grid-based energy storage is the functional equivalent of an instantly...

The Alternative Energy Fallacy

John Petersen In 2009, the world produced some 13.2 billion metric tons of hydrocarbons, or about 4,200 pounds for every man, woman and child on the planet. Burning those hydrocarbons poured roughly 31.3 billion metric tons of CO2 into our atmosphere. The basic premise of alternative energy is that widespread deployments of wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles will slash hydrocarbon consumption, reduce CO2 emissions and give us a cleaner, greener and healthier planet. That premise, however, is fatally flawed because our planet cannot produce enough non-ferrous industrial metals to make a meaningful difference and the prices...

Ener1 And Delphi Sign LOI To Form Lithium Battery Joint Venture

ENER1 INC (ENEI) and Delphi Corp. (DPH), today entered into a non-binding letter of intent to create a joint venture to leverage their combined expertise in lithium batteries. Delphi and Ener1 will be negotiating definitive agreements and conducting due diligence in the coming weeks. "The combination of Ener1's vapor deposition process and its nanotechnology for production of high-rate, low-cost lithium batteries with Delphi-developed high energy capacity technology would allow the venture to have a key advantage in penetrating its target lithium battery markets," — Kevin Fitzgerald, Ener1's CEO. ENEI is up over 14% on this news...

Metal-Air Battery Stocks

by Debra Fiakas CFA A small Israeli battery developer, Phinergy, is getting attention in the press for a road test of a Citreon C1 car outfitted with Phinergy’s metal-air batteries.  Confined mostly to military applications, metal-air batteries have not gained as much attention as lithium-ion applications. Indeed, the Citreon is principally powered by a lithium-ion power package that has been installed in the trunk.  Phinergy’s metal-air batteries are to be used as a range extender. Long-use is really the metal-air battery’s main attraction.  Like regular batteries Phinergy’s metal-air battery has an anode.  It is made from...

Viva the Cleantech Revolution

It’s official! Cleantech, the sixth industrial revolution, has arrived on time and in the midst of extraordinary crisis. Like every good revolution, blood is flowing in the streets; the guillotine is en route to Wall Street and the mob is so busy plotting retribution for the excesses of the past that most have no time to consider the future. But as yesterday’s dynasties decay, crumble and fall, a new generation of visionaries is already building on the wreckage of the past. These are indeed troubled times that bear an eerie resemblance to the opening sentence from A Tale of...

Axion Power – A Battery Manufacturer Charging Forward

John Petersen Last week Debra Fiakas of Crystal Equity Research published an article titled "No Battery Producer Left Behind" that was based on old information about the relationship between Exide Technologies (XIDE) and Axion Power International (AXPW) and reached several erroneous conclusions. Since I'm a former Axion director, the stock is my biggest holding and I follow the company like a hawk, Tom Konrad asked me to clarify the record and present a high level overview of Axion's business history, stock market dynamics and technical accomplishments over the last four years. Since Tom's request is a...
Hornsdale tesla powerpack

Lithium Technology Dominates Large Energy Storage Projects

by Debra Fiakas, CFA Market share for lithium technology has been extended by another 22 megawatts with the selection of lithium-based batteries by Duke Energy (DUK:  NYSE) for three separate of power facilities operated by Duke Energy Florida.  Duke did not specify the source of the lithium-based batteries, but the company seems to have an affinity for Tesla’s (TSLA:  Nasdaq) battery products.  Last year Duke Energy with its partner University of South Florida chose Tesla’s lithium-based batteries for a 100-kilowatt solar project in St. Petersburg, Florida. Application of lithium-based technology in a relatively small, microgrid application like that in St. Petersburg is no surprise.  Lithium-based batteries offer high energy...

The Lithium-ion Battery Glut Will Be Massive

John Petersen I hate being wrong, but Mother always taught us, "if you have to eat crow don't nibble." In February 2010 I wrote an article titled "Why I Don't Expect A Lithium-Ion Battery Glut" that's shaping up as one of the worst predictions in the history of my blog. This week Lux Research published a report titled "Using Partnerships to Stay Afloat in the Electric Vehicle Storm" that has me convinced that the capacity glut in lithium-ion batteries will be massive for at least a decade. I humbly and sincerely apologize to any readers...

Why Long Range EVs Can Never Be Cost Effective

by John Petersen America’s love affair with the automobile has always been based on the freedom of the road and the ability to hop in the car and drive wherever we want to go; be it to the corner store to buy a loaf of bread or out to the lake for a long weekend. Even though most of our trips are short, people invariably want the flexibility to go for a long drive when the open road beckons. Unfortunately, that mentality is disastrous when it comes to EV economics. I’ve been writing about energy...
Lithium Ion Battery Diagram

Graphite Developers Eye Large Growing Market

The post “Integrated Graphene Producers” featured several graphene producers with novel business models that marry captive graphite sources to the technology and knowhow to produce graphene.  These are not the only graphite producers.  Although not as elegant as graphene with its svelte single-atom profile, the market for graphite has its appeal as well. Graphite has been a staple in steel industry crucibles, foundry molds and automobile brake linings.  These days graphite has moved into another even more important place in cars  -  lithium ion batteries that make electric vehicles viable as replacements for gas guzzling cars and trucks. Spherical graphite is especially desirable because the graphite anodes hold...

NanoMarkets LLC Forecasts $8.3 Billion Annual Market For Smart Grid Batteries By 2016

In August of last year I wrote an article titled "Grid-based Energy Storage: Birth of a Giant." Over the last 12 months I've written a series of follow-on articles that discuss the principal classes of manufactured energy storage devices and the companies that are making or planning to make products for smart grid energy storage applications. My entire archive of articles on the energy storage sector is available here. One of the biggest problems I've encountered over the last year has been a dearth of reliable third party information that can help investors understand the breadth and...

Grid-scale Energy Storage: Lux Predicts $113.5 Billion in Global Demand by 2017

John Petersen Last month Lux Research released a bottom-up evaluation of the cost effectiveness of eight energy storage technologies in six grid-scale applications throughout 44 countries, including all 50 U.S. states. Their report titled "Grid Storage under the Microscope: Using Local Knowledge to Forecast Global Demand" predicts that annual global demand for grid-scale energy storage will reach an astounding 185.4 gigawatt-hours (GWh) by 2017 and represent a $113.5 billion incremental revenue opportunity for an industry that currently generates sales of $50 to $60 billion a year. In the grid-scale sector alone, Lux predicts an average...

Why Lead-Carbon Batteries Will Deflate the Lithium-Ion Bubble

John Petersen For over a year I've been cautioning readers that while lithium-ion batteries are glamorous, sleek, sexy and hot; they are about to face a formidable challenge from lead-carbon batteries that are a little bulkier and heavier, but offer competitive cycle-life and power for a tiny fraction of the cost. To placate lithium fundamentalists and EV evangelists, I want to clearly state up front that lead-carbon batteries will probably not be the first choice for plug-in vehicles. Nevertheless, it is crystal clear that lead-carbon batteries will be the only sensible choice...