October 20 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment Year: 2011 Rating: 2
One word for the future:
There is a classic scene in the movie The Graduate, when Mr. McGuire a distinguished family friend gives recent college grad Dustin Hoffman some unsolicited advice – go into ‘plastics’. [Video clip] His visions of the future were driven by the promise of the nascent plastics industry. The man missed ‘computers’, be wasn’t entirely wrong as plastics have changed the world in very profound ways.
Today, Mr McGuire might say go into ‘energy storage’ to a recent college grad. ‘Don’t just focus on energy production, look at how energy storage can change business models for renewables, utility grids, electric vehicles and bringing power to billions of people who don’t currently have access to energy grids.’
Why energy storage? Because energy from wind and solar farms goes wasted when they are unable to find use on one-way utility grid wires that have no storage along the way. Electric vehicles find it difficult to dethrone the combustion engine without high density storage systems that match the power of gasoline. And national electricity grids are vulnerable to power outages caused by breaking the stream of electricity flowing from power plant to wall socket.
Storage is going to have a tough time competing for headlines against climate change, peak oil and clean coal, but it is one of the most disruptive pieces of the future energy puzzle.
Globalization of Energy Storage sector
Like all other energy markets, energy storage will likely be very integrated and global across the value chain of raw material providers, manufacturers, designers and product integrators. But will also be a highly competitive few years as regions try to position themselves for growth in batteries, fuel cells and capacitors.
Now Indiana-based Ener1 has acquired an 83% interest in Enertech International, one of South Korea’s leading lithium-ion battery cell producers. The stake will allow Ener1 to expand manufacturing capacity of its lithium-ion automotive battery subsidiary, EnerDel as automakers around the world prepare to launch electric vehicles, and position the company for expanding storage to utility grids of tomorrow.
“Enertech is one of the largest lithium-ion battery producers in Korea, behind only LG Chemical and Samsung,” said Ener1 CEO Charles Gassenheimer. “This acquisition gives us immediate scale and volume manufacturing ability, as well as an important beachhead for supplying Asian car makers that plan to use lithium-ion technology in their electric drive vehicles.”
We have covered stories of Warren Buffet’s $233 million investment in Chinese battery maker BYD, emergence of solid state hydrogen storage, carbon-based storage systems, and the possibilities of portable power systems. But these stories only touch the surface of changes likely in a future with high density energy storage. The most exciting applications are probably those that might seem strange or impossible to us today.