Tuesday, May 23, 2017

COTW: Battery Boom

Close readers of this space know that US Person does not usually endorse products or companies.  The last products he did endorse were Nissan's Leaf and Chevrolet's Volt automobiles because the are proverbial steps in the right direction towards a sustainable, sun-driven economy. And he likes cars.

Visionary Elon Musk's Tesla Company has to be added to this short list with its electric car for the people, the Tesla Model 3.  Think of it as the 21st century's Model T.  Granted, it will not be as inexpensive in relative terms to Ford's mass produced breakthrough, but it will be cheaper than the luxury Model S and will still be on the cutting edge of electric transportation.  Interestingly, Tesla's cars will come with an optional solar cell roof that will enhance their range without struggling to find a still rare recharging station.  Electric cars first made their appearance at the turn of the 20th century, and might have captured the auto market from petrol driven cars except for the fact battery technology was primitive lead-acid which limited the auto's range and had a serious hazardous potential.

That is set to change with Tesla's gigafactory in the Nevada desert which will mass produce energy dense lithium-ion storage batteries.  This technology is essential to a successful transfer to non-fossil fuels and alternative energy supplying the grid.  All those gigawatts generated by wind, tide, and solar power have to be stored somewhere when environmental conditions are not favorable to power generation, but demand for energy is always current.  Tesla's visionary investment in advanced batteries got a comforting endorse from one of the leaders of Germany's technological establishment, AG Daimler. 

Chancellor Angela Merkle is scheduled to break ground today on a $543 million plant to make storage batteries for Daimler outside of Berlin. Given investment  in power storage by two dominant industries, the technology will drive battery prices down as it matures.  Experts estimate that by 2030 electric cars will be competitively priced with fossil fuel cars and a lot cleaner.  Plants are also planned for Poland, Sweden and Hungary and will cut the cost of lithium power packs by 43%.

Another exciting Tesla innovation is its solar home roof, a clever piece of materials engineering that uses glass tiles to transmit light energy to underlying solar panels without a significant loss of power.  These glass tiles can be made to resemble conventional tile, slate or asphalt, giving homeowners previously unavailable style options.  More importantly the tiles eliminate the need for unsightly frames to hold solar arrays.  The solar roofs look exactly like non-solar roofs and last longer while moving the homeowner closer to being their own utility company.  Look at this Bloomberg video for a preview of what is coming.  Yes, US Person has to say it, Green Kudos to Tesla, Inc.  There is a way if we choose to follow the sunlit path.