Time for better batteries

I found Peter Thiel’s comments, paraphrased in this Bloomberg editorial, very welcome on the point of energy technology.

Having studied electricity provision for a little while (in order to make trading strategies…I’m no engineer), it struck me that this whole area would be swept away by storage technology.  Better batteries seem to be the answer.  At a conference I attended, on electricity generation and transmission, the most fascinating guy in the room (in my opinion) worked on battery technology for one of the large utilities; he told me they had figured out how to store a significant amount of power in a battery the size of a shipping container, but I think it was limited to around 1 day’s worth for a few houses.  We need better!

I love hearing stories of how many solar panels would be needed to power the world and so on, but they’re pipe dreams until we get either:

  1. A significant portion of the world happy with high-voltage power lines running through their backyards, or
  2. Sufficiently effective battery storage, so locally-produced (renewable) power can be used throughout the day.

Knowing very little of the engineering involved, I reckon #2 would be the easier task.

More to the finance side – if we achieved #2, I can immediately think of a couple results:

  • Big fall in oil/natural gas prices.  Wind/solar power is a no-brainer, if they’re localised and have battery backup.
  •  Likely drops in utility bills – lower transmission cost from localised power means users wouldn’t need to pay for line losses.  Also, I would guess many would choose to go ‘off grid’ and power themselves.

2 thoughts on “Time for better batteries

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