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Did You Know? May 2022

Did you know that according to a team of researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology that there is a cheap and compact battery which is nearly ready for prime time and will be “a game-changer for energy transition?” It has been dubbed the “heat battery” and can make millions of homes in Europe gas-free. It works on the principle that when water is added to salt it produces heat. Using the reverse process, evidently heat can be used to evaporate the water and consequently store heat inside the salt.

Did you know, according to American Military News, the U.S. Department of Defense has given the go-ahead to build a prototype nuclear micro-reactor at a National Laboratory in Idaho? This “Project Pele” is supposed to provide continuous energy through the deployment of nuclear power systems within the military, which the Defense Science Board describes as a “critical enabler of future military operations.”

Did you know that according to Wood Mackenzie Global Energy Storage Outlook, using global total electricity generation in 2020 and comparing it to world energy battery storage available in 2021, we are looking at a total of 1.25 minutes of battery reserve? If that was projected for a 10X increase in storage by 2030 to factor in an increase in demand, then we would have just short of 12 minutes before the lights go out.

Did you know that in 2015 Japan had a 40% market share in global lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs)? This dropped to 21% in 2020. In the same period, Japan’s share of batteries used in energy storage dropped from 27% to 22%. Well, evidently they are fighting back. A ranking member of their industry ministry told reports recently that, “We will step up our support to help the Japanese battery industry recover global market share, which it has lost over the past several years in the battle with Chinese and South Korean rivals.” Well, good luck, but they are up against some pretty stiff competition backed by government and venture capital money from other countries. However, it may be a race to futility as other more promising chemistries emerge.

Did you know that batteries do not make electricity as some people believe? Rather, they store electricity produced elsewhere, most likely by the use of coal, natural gas, uranium or diesel fueled generators. To say an EV is a “zero-emission” vehicle is far from the truth.

A bit tongue in cheek, but did you know that 91% of all EV’s are still on the road? The other 9% made it home.

Did you know that some of the renewable energy processes are not as green as many think – not even close? The U.S. Federal Government, as recently as April, admitted that the easiest way of getting rid of used solar panels was to put them in a landfill. A Department of Energy action plan says, “Currently the economics of End of Life (EOL) handling are unfavorable to recycling.” The cost of waste generators to recycle PV modules is around $15-$45 per module. This is significantly higher than the landfill price, which is $1-$5 per module.

Looking at the other great game changer, wind turbines, according to a February 5th, 2022 article in Bloomberg, “Wind turbine blades can’t be recycled, so they are piling up in landfills. According to Reuters, “As the first wave of windmills reach the end their lives, tens of thousands of blades are being stacked and buried in landfill sites where they will take centuries to decompose.” Why are people talking about “environmental friendly” systems here?

Did you know that the largest electrical grid operator in the U.S., PJM    Interconnection, has put on hold for two years some 1,200 projects for adding power to the vast transmission system it manages? Most of these projects are solar derived. It seems that this is related to the clearing of a backlog of projects. Somewhat related, did you know that there has been an about face on the closure of California’s largest power source, the Diablo Canyon Nuclear plant? Seems that with the threat of power shortages looming, Governor Newsom is having second thoughts. But wouldn’t you know that there is also a monetary attachment. It appears that there is a lot of federal money available to refurbish nuclear plants.

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