To: The Impact Readers
Enjoy this memorial day with your family, friends and loved ones. Even if it is through a Zoom call. We at The Impact are going to be lighting the grill up and spending some time reflecting and thanking all of the heros in our lives. The ones that fought wars to give us peace and those who fought and continue to fight Covid-19.
In Your Inbox: Open source research efforts; De-Mystifying the conversation around the 1 Million Mile battery; Using your EV to help the grid and the trend of setting negative emission goals.
A little known fact is that smart home appliances haven’t been maximized to their full potential. In fact – most executives within Google’s smart home division and investors in smart home technology will share that they thought app connected appliances would be game changing in the marketplace.
Today there are millions of smart home devices that are out there in the world, but not knowing where and why people buy them has kept the industry back as they open up the gateway to allow your devices to communicate with each other – not with corporations.
One such industry that remains to take advantage of connected appliances to improve the quality of life and efficiency of homes and businesses is the energy industry. One thing holding the energy industry back from making progress is the lack of information in what devices are out there in the world.
That’s where you – our awesome readers come in – by helping answer the questions in this survey you are supporting open source research. If you have 2 minutes to fill out the survey attached it would go a long way in helping fill knowledge gaps in this industry.
Frontier technology is always “almost” here, but the conversation around a 1 Million Mile Battery Pack has heated up with an old incumbent – GE – joining the conversation. We all have heard of Tesla working on a Million Mile pack, but even with significant jumps in energy density of a single cell it still feels that it will take years before we hear about cars with Million Mile ranges on their packs.
Coming from GE we highly doubt we will see anything soon – especially since they haven’t released an EV to the market yet. However, what interests us more is the fundamentals behind a 1 Million Mile battery pack.
The needed progress in chemistry
For us to reach 1 Million Miles on a battery pack there are a two generalized ways to approach it:
Fundamentally, current lithium based batteries solutions are flawed in the sense that they don’t provide an energy density significant enough for us to reach a 1 Million Mile Battery Pack – or the equivalent of of 10,000 + charging cycles before that 20% – 30% degradation point hits where the packs have to be recycled or repurposed elsewhere.
However, there are a number of companies exploring cobalt free solutions that would help move the chain closer to a Million Mile battery, but not far enough.
Then there are companies like Nanotech Energy – who just raised $27 Million by the way – who are building graphene based battery solutions. Graphene still remains in the frontier bucket in terms of real world adoption, but it has shown significant promise as a way to make real progress towards a Million Mile battery solution.
Looking at this space as a whole, there is still a long way to go and a significant number of breakthroughs required for this to become a mass market solution based on chemistry alone.
Increase Battery Size
The best part is that we aren’t solely relying on scientific breakthroughs to get there however. Pack size and improving efficiency for charging infrastructure all play big roles in ensuring the health of battery packs – which will also contribute to longer lifetimes.
What we believe is that we will see longer lasting batteries in big rigs before we ever see them in passenger vehicles. The reason being is more space to play with. Even with sub-par energy densities from current lithium batteries for a million mile battery pack there is a huge opportunity for over sizing and building in efficiencies in energy usage throughout trucks & big rigs to reduce the amount of usable energy. This would be building redundancies into the battery to guarantee that it can survive the rigorous charging cycles it will have to deal with over its lifetime.
It operates as a compensation for the lack of high energy density & resilient batteries, but it can help get us closer to the elusive goal these corporations are after.
Nano-grids are now becoming all the rage in the market with companies like Span.IO, TouchLight, Peerless-AV and others joining the journey to make the grid optional. What hasn’t been made clear in the market today is why are utilities interested in allowing grid-optional infrastructure to be deployed.
The best way to start to evaluate this is by first understanding nano-grids as a whole – a good article that dives into this is here. Nano-grids in general enable properties to operate independently, meaning the entire solar + storage system is designed like the grid, but on your property. Sizing the solar, batteries and backup generators to ensure that you are self-sufficient.
So why are nano-grids important?
They enable micro-grids in ways that weren’t possible before – especially since some of the most critical issues with enabling micro-grids are the infrastructure issues of how do we ensure we have enough energy storage and solar within communities to cover all energy needs and demand spikes. To add to that there is additional complexity in how to transfer that power between homes when each home may have solar, some solar & storage or no solar at all.
With nano-grids coming before micro-grids it doesn’t require a full ground up rebuild and complex infrastructure challenge from the utility side to manage micro-grids. While it may “reduce” their earnings from electricity sales – their business models are changing and growing nano-grid adoption is proving that some utilities and the market as a whole are going to shift the way the world of electricity is approached and monetized.
Negative emissions commitments seem to be the trend in 2020.
Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, pledged $10 billion to fight climate change and created the Bezos Earth Fund. Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, announced a $1 billion climate innovation fund. And many other companies followed. The money is there, all that is left are the actions.
Some organizations have just commitments, while others are further along in the process:
The actions companies take to achieve these goals are what is key. Shifting to renewable energy is one of the best ways to contribute – this directly decreases the use of fossil fuels. Carbon offsets, in comparison, indirectly contribute.
Carbon offsets still allow companies to continue operations as normal by allowing them to purchase carbon offsets to counter-balance their emissions.
Some companies are going the extra mile to truly reduce their carbon footprint as well as policy and reporting. Going from commitments to actions is the key to negative emissions. At this rate, tech companies may be leading the way for climate action, rather than government regulation and policy.
Tesla is basically the Apple of cars – rather than partner with other companies, build it inhouse. Tesla finally is beginning to introduce Vehicle to Grid capabilities to their model 3s in the field. And in tear-downs engineers have found that this feature can be enabled through an Over-The-Air update since they already have built in the hardware controls to support Vehicle to Grid. Their onboard charger already supports bi-directional charging…
This shouldn’t come as any shock especially when billions have been flowing into the technology to turn EVs into portable battery packs that homeowners can use to run their homes through outages and utilities can use to help alleviate load on the grid. We actually covered some of the benefits and concerns holding Vehicle to Grid technology back in the market in this article a few weeks ago.
With Tesla’s sales beating their estimates and having sold their millionth car they effectively have a portable fleet of 75 GWh of storage. Which lines up great with their goal to release a million mile battery pack so that their customers can monetize their vehicles by providing their onboard storage as a service to the utility companies.
Check out our most popular podcast episode on Youtube. A debate between Spira CEO & NetZro’s CEO! They talk about food and its impact on climate change. Subscribe to our channel to get our next podcast episode that is in the works!
Read by experts & Written by experts in the clean tech industry. Weekly analysis in a simple, but witty way.