Tag: ALTI

Lux Research Dissects Lithium-ion Battery Mythology

John Petersen We all know that you can't have a cost-effective electric car without a cost-effective battery. We also know that a small but vocal hodgepodge of ideologues, activists, politicians and dreamers wants everyone to believe that rapid and stunning advances in lithium-ion batteries will finally make the dream a reality after a century of one abject failure after another. I frequently caution readers that it won't be anywhere near as easy as the proponents claim. In a new report titled "Searching for Innovations to Cut Li-ion Battery Costs" Lux Research did a yeoman's...

Bernstein and Ricardo Report: Cheap Will Beat Cool in Vehicle Electrification

John Petersen On September 26, 2011, Bernstein Research and Ricardo plc published a 450 page analytical report titled, "Global Autos: Don't Believe the Hype – Analyzing the Costs & Potential of Fuel-Efficient Technology," which combines best in class securities research from Bernstein with the deep automotive expertise of Ricardo, a global leader in engineering, product innovation and strategic consulting. The result is the most comprehensive, detailed and eminently reasonable forecast of short-, medium- and long-term trends in advanced automotive powertrain technology that I've had the pleasure to read. It's devoid of axe grinding or cheer-leading and...

It’s Time to Kill the Electric Car, Drive a Stake Through its Heart and...

John Petersen I was recently invited to prepare a memorandum on the battery industry for the electric mobility working group of the World Energy Council, a global thought leadership forum established in 1923 that includes 93 national committees representing over 3,000 member organizations including governments, businesses and research institutions. Since my memorandum integrated several themes from this blog and tied them all together, I've decided to publish a lightly edited version for readers. To set the stage for the substantive discussion that follows, I’ll start with an 1883 quote from Thomas Edison: “The storage battery is one...

EVs, Lithium-ion Batteries and Liars Poker

John Petersen Last week I stumbled across a link that led to a 2010 report from the National Research Council titled "Hidden Costs of Energy, Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use." This free 506-page book takes a life-cycle approach – from fuel extraction to energy production, distribution, and use to disposal of waste products – and attempts to quantify the health, climate and other unpriced damages that arise from the use of various energy sources for electricity, transportation and heat. After studying the NRC's discussion of the unpriced health effects, other nonclimate damages and greenhouse gas...

Why Advanced Lithium Ion Batteries Won’t Be Recycled

John Petersen One of the most pervasive and enduring myths in the energy storage sector is that a robust recycling infrastructure for used lithium-ion batteries will be built before the wonder-batteries that are being manufactured today for the first generation of plug-in vehicles reach the end of their useful lives. In the worst case scenario, advocates suggest used lithium-ion batteries will be stockpiled until there are enough used batteries to justify the build-out of recycling infrastructure. The numbers tell a very different story. For several years the single minded obsession of all lithium-ion battery developers...

Two Stocks For Grid Storage – ZBB Energy and Axion Power

John Petersen On March 4, 2011 the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory published a comprehensive review of "Electrochemical Energy Storage Technologies for Green Grid" that is a must-read for serious investors who want to understand the technical and economic intricacies of the energy storage sector. It explains why storage is a key enabling technology for wind and solar power, the smart grid, efficient transportation and a legion of high-technology manufacturing and service enterprises that can't survive without reliable power. It also explains why energy storage is an investment mega-trend that will endure for decades. While I normally try to...

Plug-in Vehicle Subsidies; Taxing Peter To Buy Paul’s New Car

John Petersen Industrial subsidies have been an important feature of the American economic landscape since the late 19th century for one simple reason – they work. After the steam locomotive proved its ability to quickly and cheaply move people and cargo long distances, the government launched a massive effort to span the country with steel rails and bring the benefits of a rapid, safe and reliable national transportation system to all its citizens. After electric lighting proved its merit, the rush was on to build a national infrastructure and bring the benefits to all. After the internal combustion...

The EIA Offers Another Reality Check For Energy Storage Investors

John Petersen On December 14th the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a policy-neutral statistics and analysis agency within the Department of Energy, announced the release of reference case statistics for its Annual Energy Outlook 2010, an exhaustive compendium of current data and expected trends that covers the entire spectrum of energy production, consumption and pricing at the regional and national level. For numbers freaks like me, the EIA worksheets are a bottomless well of fascinating minutiae. Since most investors would find the raw data mind numbing, I spent some time pouring through the EIA's data in an effort to wrap...

USPS Study: EV Economics Depend On Smart-Grid Revenue

John Petersen On August 28th, the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Postal Service published the results of a feasibility study titled, "Electrification of Delivery Vehicles." While the feasibility study reaches a foregone conclusion and recommends the purchase of a 3,000 unit demonstration fleet, I was surprised by the high level of Federal subsidies the Inspector General thought necessary to bring EVs within Postal Service capital investment policies. I was even more surprised by the conclusion that the tipping point in the economic analysis was revenue from ancillary vehicle to grid, or V2G, services. The...

Smart DOE Battery Manufacturing Grants and Dilution For Dummies

John Petersen Last month I wrote about a very smart plan the DOE developed for $4.5 billion in smart grid grants authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ("ARRA"). I was particularly impressed that the DOE's plan created a functional public-private partnership where grants would be available to companies that could raise matching funds from private sources, but would be denied to companies that could not attract substantial private sector funding. While I hoped a similar plan would be adopted for $2 billion in ARRA battery manufacturing grants, my research was hindered by a broken link...

White House Report: GM Volt is Not Ready for Prime Time

In it's March 30, 2009 summary determination that GM had failed to propose a viable bankruptcy alternative, the President's auto industry task force said:"GM is at least one generation behind Toyota on advanced, "green" powertrain development. In an attempt to leapfrog Toyota, GM has devoted significant resources to the Chevy Volt. While the Volt holds promise, it is currently projected to be much more expensive than its gasoline-fueled peers and will likely need substantial reductions in manufacturing cost in order to become commercially viable." This extraordinary conclusion has been public for weeks but I've not seen it...

Lead-acid Batteries and How Cheap Beat Cool at Google

On April 1st CNET News published a story about a previously secret technology that Google (GOOG) has patented and implemented system-wide. The technology, which Ben Jai of Google reportedly described as their "Manhattan Project," builds a 12-volt battery into each server to provide backup power. The point that fascinates me is Google's choice of small format valve regulated lead-acid batteries to keep its servers running. When an ultra-sophisticated company like Google picks cheap over cool for a mission critical function, I think it speaks volumes about the future direction of the energy storage industry. Stephen Shankland of...

Cleantech, Optimism Squared and the Family Reunion Investment Test

Last November, Merrill Lynch released "The Sixth Revolution: The Coming of Cleantech," a thematic report from strategist Steven Milunovich that heralded cleantech as a new investment theme and forecast a coming age of plenty. A few days later venture capital icon Vinod Khosla warned a Palo Alto audience “500 million people on earth enjoy a lifestyle that 9 billion people will want in 2050.” The differences between these two informed viewpoints are more than a little stark, but they highlight a frightening truth about cleantech: for the first time in human history the fundamental drivers of a technological revolution...