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ESA

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

Mon, 06/01/2015 - 11:32 -- Gerry Woolf

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.

If you have something to say that adds to the argument, you need to write a paper and to deliver that to an audience, you need to create slides for your power point. And you’ll need to get clearance from your company’s lawyers and PRs.

Too much hassle. So panel discussions predominate. Mumble into your boots and agree with the other guys. Might be good if you knew who was on the panel? It all looks like, and sounds like, a bad TV chat show with C listers as guests.

No hard take home messages with facts. Remember those? Some energised speakers for sure, but sometimes it was hard to tell whether this was a stand up comedy show or a political rally.

Energy storage is not about job creation but it is all about making efficient use of electricity generation assets and reducing the impact of fossil fuels on the climate. It’s also about making money — hence the presence of the bankers. If only there could be another way for accessing capital. Access to prosperity needs money and electricity. Clearly showing my age and my politics here.

Still, for all that, Energy Storage has come of age, led by the progressive US states of California and New York, their utilities, some wise heads and a little tech Viagra this month from Mr Musk. You just have to show it works. I didn’t see too much of that. I wonder what the old guard of Dr Phil Symonds and Brad Roberts would have made of it all?

The rest of the world is way behind America on this and have much catching up to do — that much is clear.

But in a week when global media was more concerned about whether FIFA was corrupt from top to bottom,  did it matter?  If you can’t see the truth about FIFA, I’d suggest you’re half blind. And if you can’t see the benefits of storage, you’re totally blind! The world’s media wasn’t really here.

Being corrupt will probably make you rich…but banking on electricity storage to swell your fortunes is still, sadly, uncertain.

Musk has set the pot boiling

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 10:58 -- Gerry Woolf

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.

I feel passionately about this because I was inspired to launch BEST magazine nearly 13 years ago based on what I’d heard from the great and the good from the US Electricity Storage Associations’ meetings at the end of the last century… people like Phil Symonds, Garth Corey, Brad Roberts and others could see the future and it made sense to me as a journalist covering the battery field.

It seems a long time ago and many people have put in huge amounts of effort to achieve… well not as much as we’d hoped for. Then a technology Rock Star like Elon Musk speaks and the world changes. Now every news hack across the globe is writing about energy storage and with luck it won’t go away.

Musk’s announcement is self-serving but it helps all battery makers and all chemistries, including good old lead-acid.

The much-hyped Tesla Giga factory in Nevada needs a rapid ramp up in output if the battery pack cost reductions Musk hopes for in his electric car programme is to happen.

Diversification into domestic electricity storage could help and with a much-mentioned US$800m in orders, well it’s a start.

Of course, it also means a rapid ramp-up for the whole of Tesla’s supply chain— more separator, more electrolyte, more electrode foils— in short, a massive increase in risk for all concerned. It’s what the USA has been good at in the past— in terms of technology— when a goal is set and the resources marshalled accordingly. But lithium-ion is not the only choice. Lead-acid still has a future in this market, if it gets its marketing right and the whole of the supply, installation and finance chain. Musk is doing the battery industry a favour but how many of you will capitalise on it?

We’ll see if that’s happening. I’ll be reporting from the Electricity Storage Association’s event in Dallas this week and more importantly from the Intersolar show in Munich in early June. We’ll be picking up on the best. If you want to tell the world what you’re doing… ESPL is a key route for doing it. Contact me.

All change at the ESA

Fri, 01/31/2014 - 11:42 -- Ruth Williams
Matthew Roberts

The US Electricity Storage Association has changed its name, leadership and website.

The new name is the Energy Storage Association.

The ESA also has a new executive director, Matthew Roberts, an energy policy expert, having previously led government and public affairs on behalf of trade association focussed on advanced transportation fuels. There is also a new-look website to tell people about the changes and promote the deployment of energy storage technologies.

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