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Better batteries to beat global warming: A race against time

9 Comments
By SETH BORENSTEIN

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9 Comments
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It would be nice to think even more money and attention will be given to research which will lead to finding cost effective alternatives to burning hydrocarbons to generate electricity and power our vehicles. The fossil fuel based economy needs to be replaced; the sooner the better. We'll always need to burn some, but hopefully in significantly smaller amounts. Good luck Messrs Goodenough, Musk etal.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Waiting for your products, as generating is easy but storing is so far very costly.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Technological developments are necessary, but what few people want to talk about is the need to reduce energy consumption, especially in advanced economies.

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All R&D efforts are to be applauded, and this is a step in the right direction....BUT....

If batteries can get better, cheaper and store more power safely, then electric cars and solar- or wind- powered >homes become more viable

.........

“It’s a critical piece in the whole puzzle in how we stop burning fossil fuels completely.”

US household energy consumption in 2009 was 10 quadrillion BTUs. Source: http://www.eia.gov/consumption/residential/

US total energy consumption in 2009 was 25,155 TWh. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_States#Current_consumption

Plug those into <WolframAlpha.com> (10 quadrillion BTU / 25,155TWh) results in households making up only ~12% of US energy consumption. It's going to take a LOT more than better batteries in households to bring the US below global-warming-inducing levels of fossil fuel consumption.

We need to get to the point where we can move a Maersk Triple-E container ship across the Pacific on battery power (or thorium power....).

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"If batteries can get better, cheaper and store more power safely, then electric cars and solar- or wind- powered homes become more viable "

It is a huge IF that I have frankly just about given up on. Time after time over the last half-decade, I have seen these hopeful blurbs pumped up in fits and starts, and hey.. you know what? ... it ain't happening. There will be very large industrial scale batteries coming along in the next few years, but they won't be lithium, and they just won't be good enough to make a big splash. I don't think Tesla is going to be able to meet its price targets for its cars or its batteries. I don't think the price or performance will be anything near break-even in the near future. It is not even close for no-brainer markets like Japan and Australia. People will have to throw away money to be "green," and too many people have already been there and done that.

People need to focus elsewhere. Using excess electrical power at night to produce hydrogen or to produce synthetic fuels should be examined eventually. Until then, load shifting, consumer and producer programs of various kinds, etc. That is what we need to pay attention to.

Anybody heard of Japan's bold new initiative on LEDs by 2020? How about FLAT-35 policies?

Those are examples of different, bold, and probably successful new policies that can make a bigger difference in the next five years than battery pipe dreams.

By the way, battery systems have been available in Japan from several manufacturers for a long time. There are even systems to be used with electric vehicles that you can buy today for less than 10,000 bucks. It is nothing new. The problem is that anyone doing the math can't come up with an economic justification for them. I suspect that Tesla is producing and selling the batteries very slowly because they lose money on each one they sell, and they STILL are not economically viable for consumers.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The time has come! The day has arrived! New technologies will play a major role in the clean energy economy.

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We are getting there, we have too!

And yes the world especially the western world REALLY needs to look at its consumption, we are wasteful SOBs!

We need to reign it in some!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

We need clean and affordable energy. Japan should be the one leading but nope, they just too busy investing on the military instead...

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It already exists. But you can't know about it if people keep parroting the GigaFactory. Tesla batteries are the same technology just at a large production scale so that's why the cost is lower, not because the technology is cheaper. It's still dependent on rare materials. On the other hand, Donald Sadoway's liquid metal battery is cheaper technology not using rare materials that scales. See his short TED Talk on it. "The Missing Link to Renewable Energy": http://tinyurl.com/qhpsyyq

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