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Editor's Blog

John Shepherd

Is it a ‘Fannie and Freddie’ moment for lithium technology in the US?

21/05/2019

Safety concerns are top of the battery agenda again, as we reveal regulators' fears that the currently unexplained explosion at a grid-scale BESS plant in Arizona could trigger a review of safety standards. This could in turn spill over into the US residential storage market.

The US now joins South Korea at the tipping point of lithium battery fires. As far as the US is concerned, could this be a Fannie and Freddie moment— akin to the subprime mortgage crisis?

Utility chiefs and regulators in Arizona have said: "Batteries are the future for the US." If lithium technology is so important to that future and cannot be allowed to fail, then the industry needs to get a grip— and quickly.

Batteries of every chemistry have the potential to enjoy a bright future, if the plethora of projects and deals we report on in this issue are anything to go by. 

As we predicted last week, Sweden's Northvolt has secured the funds it needs to build what could be Europe's first commercial battery cells plant. Germany's VW is now a contender too, with a mystery partner backing its gigafactory plan.

But Chinese and Korean firms continue to tighten their grip on the EV battery supply market in Europe— this time in deals with Volvo. And despite geopolitical tensions between Seoul and Beijing, Korea's SK Innovation is to further expand in China. Even the UK's Moixa has not been held back by the Brexit debate in attracting international investors for its battery technology. 

Read the latest battery news here on our web site first. Remember, we publish a weekly round-up in BEST Battery Briefing— FREE every Monday— highlighting stories we've covered over the past week. Sign up for the newsletter by clicking here and if you're already a recipient and find BBB useful, please forward it to friends.

Meanwhile, make sure you've subscribed to Batteries & Energy Storage Technology (BEST) magazine— the world's leading publication on battery manufacture and design and the emerging field of large-scale electrical energy storage. The Spring 2019 issue is out now!

What matters: FIFA or ESA….the ball is in your court.

So ESA’s annual event is over for another year. It’s no longer an event for battery scientists or even battery vendors but it looks like an excellent networking event for everyone else. As a conference with formal presentations, forget it.

Musk has set the pot boiling

It’s funny how us lesser beings can pursue a technical topic till we’re blue in the face and no one seems to take any notice. Electrical Energy Storage is just one such topic.

Savannah 2015— the verdict

Well, BCI sure has gone digital— the only analogue service was Ann Noll and her ‘ring out your dead’ bell. I remember Michael Mayer of ELBC fame in a similar role but that’s another story.

Apple Electric Car? B*ll*cks !

Short of a definitive announcement from the company, you can take all the stories about Apple coming up with electric car any time soon as total bollocks and a figment of a flaccid and useless mainstream press adding up one and one and making it 27.

The editor’s take

AABC: Lead is far from dead again and nobody else is making money!
There’s a plethora of hybrid, pure electrics and plug in electrics now available from German manufacturers— more than 60 variants but nobody is buying— well not in any serious numbers…

Musk was right… now make it happen

What’s your definition of good engineering? Mine would include making use of the stuff that’s already there, cannibalising (if necessary) existing kit to make what I need or want to try. That’s what I learned as a kid messing around with electronics half a century ago and I’m glad to say it's a philosophy that rings true with some of the best minds out there today.

Alevo: The Apple of energy storage?

North Carolina-based Alevo believes it is 'redefining energy', y'all.

Energy storage: Not ready for prime time (yet)

There’s good reason to believe energy storage is not ready for prime time. Not yet.

Seriously missing Google

It’s only the absence of Google that makes you realise just how dependent we’ve become on it and how valuable it is.

Energy storage: It’s been a long time coming

It’s been a long time coming: this ‘energy storage’ malarkey. But visitors to this year’s Intersolar in Munich were in for a treat— a whole hall dedicated to the stuff.

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