Batteries are not a new idea. Even lithium-ion batteries have been around for years and now power all sorts of everyday items.
But, at this year’s Intersolar Conference, batteries stood out as the main focal point for the entire energy market, now and in the future.
It’s hard not to tout the achievements of Tesla, as it is the biggest name in the lithium battery business today. But the company’s Powerwall products, off-grid battery systems that will power entire homes, are the driving force in the world’s focus on batteries.
These batteries in America, and similar setups from companies like German Sonnenbatterie, are known best for their work with renewable energy sources, solar especially.
Even fossil-fuels can find a boon in large-scale battery power. As batteries like the Powerwall become more widely available, utility companies are looking to buy them to run their grid systems more smoothly. Likewise, large companies have pre-ordered the larger Powerpack batteries to help mitigate extra energy costs when the grid demand is high.
Up until now, lead-acid batteries were the norm. Indeed, many large-scale battery systems are still run on them, due mostly to the high cost of lithium batteries. But as that cost drops, more customers will be have access to the technology. Tesla’s CTO JB Straubel insists that the key to the energy market is cheap lithium-ion batteries.
And already the Internet of Things is hitching a ride on this growing market. Startups such as Geli and Greensmith are creating software that can predict the kind and size of batteries a home or business will need, then monitor the systems to assure they work at full efficiency.
Some of these startups have solicited major funding for their projects: Advanced Microgrid Solutions raised $18 million from investors including former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and one of Tesla’s original supporters, DBL Investors.
Market demand is always a concern for new technologies. Companies must offer their products and services at the right time and the right price to grow. But, as we mentioned in a previous blog, zeitgeist is a powerful thing, and Tesla has the eye of the public for now.
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Until next time,
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