Batteries, California, and Tesla

Bloomberg reports that new battery technology really isn’t quite up to speed, or down to reasonable cost yet.  Even so, because of state legal mandates, the utilities are going ahead and installing bunches of whatever they think is the best they can get right now.  They are just going for it.  This is an interesting and, I guess, positive step.  Interesting to see if it has any impact on the quality or cost of batteries for storing wind and solar generated electricity.  I guess positive, because maybe it will.  But certainly at a cost for California consumers, oh, and the rest of us, too:

The U.S. is still a long way from having enough battery capacity to replace power plants, SCE’s Nichols said. The Tehachapi site, half funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, is capable of storing enough energy to power about 1,600 to 2,400 homes.

But what is really important to note here is that the biggest impact on the production of batteries seems to be Tesla Motors:

Tesla, based in Palo Alto, California, is planning a $5 billion “gigafactory” in Nevada with help from Japan’s Panasonic Corp. that will be the world’s largest battery factory, Musk said last month. Samsung is partnering with Chinese investors to build a car-battery plant in Xian, China. Electric vehicles may make up 10 percent of new car registries in Europe in the next decade, according to UBS, which estimates battery costs will drop by more than 50 percent by 2020.

‘Smart Grid’

Besides helping bring battery costs down, electric cars themselves may become a source of energy storage for the power grid, said Patrick Hummel, a utilities analyst for UBS in Zurich. In a “smart-grid world,” consumers would recharge cars while at work during the day, when solar output is the highest, and then feed some of that energy back to the grid during the high demand periods in the evening, he said. This could eliminate the need for some peak-load plants, he said.

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