Batteries Could Be a Small Dotcom-Style Bubble

Apparently, there's so much battery research going on and so much money being put into it a lot of this money could go down the drain as the winners emerge. Some new batteries just won't be able to make it fast enough to market to have a chance at turning in a profit.

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Oil & Gas is not going away any time soon, despite rumors to the contrary.

Waiting for Elon Musk to go down in flames, due to his Twitter footbullets.

I have no particular issue with EVs or with new, super-duper incredible batteries, but the hyperbole hype is amusing.  

Agreed on the battery bubble.

So far, nothing beats the bang for the buck of hydrocarbons, in my humble opinion.

Dang it, I wish Don Minter would come out of online "retirement" and ruthlesslessly but humorously eviscerate this battery hype.

I'll email Don and see if I can coax him to resurface, I really miss his prickly, hilarious wit.  The ex-Oilpro crowd know what I'm talking about.  A debate between Don and Jan on any topic would likely be ... hysterically funny and a sight to behold.  Heck, I'd stay out of the way of their verbal wit and wordsmith dueling - I'm totally outclassed by these two.

Hey Don, any chance your unequalled dry wit can resurface again?

Bueller ... Bueller ... Bueller ...

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You get this in the early stages of any new industry - many small players. As the industry grows the less efficient poor performers go bust. The more successful ones grow and consolidate. Oil in the mid19th century was very much like this.

Several times I have been told that small wind turbine manufacturers going bust is evidence of the industry going down the pan.

Meanwhile in the real world xD

 

800px-Global_Wind_Power_Cumulative_Capacity_svg.png

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Sure, consolidation and pruning is part of life but I was surprised at how many battery startups there are. It's all this startup culture, I guess, startups, startups everywhere.

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Thanks for the email, Tom. Yes, I have an opinion on this topic. Interestingly enough, I had a discussion on modern battery technology and the EV industry just last night in the local watering hole. I'm fairly certain that the conversational companion I was with won't be talking to me again, either, as will few of the readers of this comment, if they're 'true believers.' Note, Nick, that I didn't use your name even once in that statement.

The most promising battery technology right now is Elon Musk's carbon-based battery. Its constituent elements are almost 100% based on bullshit. This is very similar to almost all EV battery technologies today. The main problem is not distance-of-drive (how far you can go on a single charge). The problem is only partially weight to storage ratio. The problem is not cost... at least not directly. The problem is not charge time; excluding fleet vehicles, most consumers drive their cars for about an hour or two per day, giving a 10:1 charge time compared to usage. Even old nickel-cadmium batteries could do that.

As an aside, any technology that does not support fleet vehicles is not going to work for the masses, either, but this failure cause is not as directly attributable as it is with fleet vehicles. If you drive a bus 18 hours per day on average, you're going to need a way to almost-instantaneously charge/refuel it, to keep it operating. Refilling a diesel tank in less than 10 minutes fits this model. How's your battery technology going to do this? But I digress...

From the article: "Either way, some investors are likely to end up with batteries that aren’t economical."  They spelled "all" as "some." Sloppy editing.

"So, Don," you might ask, "What is the problem with improving batteries as discussed in the linked article?"

I'm glad you asked.

The problem is battery lifetime. Do you own an older laptop computer? After four years, the battery is kaput. You must either buy a new battery, or remain tied to the outlet. That's fine for a computer, but I would need approximately a 14 mile extension cord to get to work with my car, once the battery dies. Right now... and as long as I've been alive... battery lifespans are about 2 to 4 years, depending on battery type. Sears and Wal-Mart take advantage of this by charging you extra for a 7-year battery, then pro-rating you for anything over two years once it dies. This guarantees you're buying your next battery in three or so years from S or W-M. That's marketing, not battery technology.

What I am saying is "You will be buying a new battery, no matter what its chemical makeup, every four years." That's like rebuilding your transmission or replacing the engine in an internal combustion engine (ICE) car, price wise. Would you buy a Mercedes if you knew you were going to have to pay $4000 in three years for repairs, over and above standard maintenance? Well, you would if the government gave you $10,000 to buy the car. Who's going to buy the used car, knowing that in a year or so, they're going to shell out $4K for a new battery? That ICE vehicle is looking better and better, as long as the price of gasoline stays below $4 per gallon.

And that, Nick, is where your "wind energy growth chart" comes from: Government subsidies. Without Uncle Sugar giving them money to build them, wind turbines are a net money loser. I happen to work in this field, so I'm not just spouting an opinion. The electronics involved along with turbine maintenance and repairs outweighs the small intermittent output you get from wind turbines. Your chart is great, but just like Mr. Musk's battery hype, it is very misleading. A typical turbine runs approximately 25%-40% (last time I looked; I doubt wind speeds have varied much since then, though) of the time, which means you must have a back-up source to supplement the turbine when it is effectively a bird nest pedestal or raptor hunting blind.

I wrote an article on the now-folded Oilpro platform a few years back detailing how to overcome the problems above, but since I don't have Elon's government money fountain to do it, I cannot implement my plan. Also, because I don't have his money, I cannot build money-losing wind turbines to show a false growth curve based on the same bovine-sourced, carbon-based technology mentioned above. And lastly, because I don't have the money to throw away, I won't be investing in any of these battery startups.

Believe it or not, I'm a big fan of electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles. Have someone who is willing to pay me $1 million per year for the rest of my life contact me, and I'll show whomever how to do both with today's technology. The way it is being approached now is doomed to failure. It is not unlike folks trying to design the best buggy whip as Henry Ford is dialing up his assembly line. Old thinking solves old problems.

Thanks again for the invitation, Tom. I'm guessing I'm the only one who will thank you for it. Most are cursing you under their breath for bringing such a heathen into their midst.

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57 minutes ago, Don Minter said:

Thanks for the email, Tom. Yes, I have an opinion on this topic. Interestingly enough, I had a discussion on modern battery technology and the EV industry just last night in the local watering hole. I'm fairly certain that the conversational companion I was with won't be talking to me again, either, as will few of the readers of this comment, if they're 'true believers.' Note, Nick, that I didn't use your name even once in that statement.

The most promising battery technology right now is Elon Musk's carbon-based battery. Its constituent elements are almost 100% based on bullshit. This is very similar to almost all EV battery technologies today. The main problem is not distance-of-drive (how far you can go on a single charge). The problem is only partially weight to storage ratio. The problem is not cost... at least not directly. The problem is not charge time; excluding fleet vehicles, most consumers drive their cars for about an hour or two per day, giving a 10:1 charge time compared to usage. Even old nickel-cadmium batteries could do that.

As an aside, any technology that does not support fleet vehicles is not going to work for the masses, either, but this failure cause is not as directly attributable as it is with fleet vehicles. If you drive a bus 18 hours per day on average, you're going to need a way to almost-instantaneously charge/refuel it, to keep it operating. Refilling a diesel tank in less than 10 minutes fits this model. How's your battery technology going to do this? But I digress...

From the article: "Either way, some investors are likely to end up with batteries that aren’t economical."  They spelled "all" as "some." Sloppy editing.

"So, Don," you might ask, "What is the problem with improving batteries as discussed in the linked article?"

I'm glad you asked.

The problem is battery lifetime. Do you own an older laptop computer? After four years, the battery is kaput. You must either buy a new battery, or remain tied to the outlet. That's fine for a computer, but I would need approximately a 14 mile extension cord to get to work with my car, once the battery dies. Right now... and as long as I've been alive... battery lifespans are about 2 to 4 years, depending on battery type. Sears and Wal-Mart take advantage of this by charging you extra for a 7-year battery, then pro-rating you for anything over two years once it dies. This guarantees you're buying your next battery in three or so years from S or W-M. That's marketing, not battery technology.

What I am saying is "You will be buying a new battery, no matter what its chemical makeup, every four years." That's like rebuilding your transmission or replacing the engine in an internal combustion engine (ICE) car, price wise. Would you buy a Mercedes if you knew you were going to have to pay $4000 in three years for repairs, over and above standard maintenance? Well, you would if the government gave you $10,000 to buy the car. Who's going to buy the used car, knowing that in a year or so, they're going to shell out $4K for a new battery? That ICE vehicle is looking better and better, as long as the price of gasoline stays below $4 per gallon.

And that, Nick, is where your "wind energy growth chart" comes from: Government subsidies. Without Uncle Sugar giving them money to build them, wind turbines are a net money loser. I happen to work in this field, so I'm not just spouting an opinion. The electronics involved along with turbine maintenance and repairs outweighs the small intermittent output you get from wind turbines. Your chart is great, but just like Mr. Musk's battery hype, it is very misleading. A typical turbine runs approximately 25%-40% (last time I looked; I doubt wind speeds have varied much since then, though) of the time, which means you must have a back-up source to supplement the turbine when it is effectively a bird nest pedestal or raptor hunting blind.

I wrote an article on the now-folded Oilpro platform a few years back detailing how to overcome the problems above, but since I don't have Elon's government money fountain to do it, I cannot implement my plan. Also, because I don't have his money, I cannot build money-losing wind turbines to show a false growth curve based on the same bovine-sourced, carbon-based technology mentioned above. And lastly, because I don't have the money to throw away, I won't be investing in any of these battery startups.

Believe it or not, I'm a big fan of electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles. Have someone who is willing to pay me $1 million per year for the rest of my life contact me, and I'll show whomever how to do both with today's technology. The way it is being approached now is doomed to failure. It is not unlike folks trying to design the best buggy whip as Henry Ford is dialing up his assembly line. Old thinking solves old problems.

Thanks again for the invitation, Tom. I'm guessing I'm the only one who will thank you for it. Most are cursing you under their breath for bringing such a heathen into their midst.

 

straw bales.png

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9 hours ago, Don Minter said:

Thanks for the email, Tom. Yes, I have an opinion on this topic. Interestingly enough, I had a discussion on modern battery technology and the EV industry just last night in the local watering hole. I'm fairly certain that the conversational companion I was with won't be talking to me again, either, as will few of the readers of this comment, if they're 'true believers.' Note, Nick, that I didn't use your name even once in that statement.

The most promising battery technology right now is Elon Musk's carbon-based battery. Its constituent elements are almost 100% based on bullshit. This is very similar to almost all EV battery technologies today. The main problem is not distance-of-drive (how far you can go on a single charge). The problem is only partially weight to storage ratio. The problem is not cost... at least not directly. The problem is not charge time; excluding fleet vehicles, most consumers drive their cars for about an hour or two per day, giving a 10:1 charge time compared to usage. Even old nickel-cadmium batteries could do that.

As an aside, any technology that does not support fleet vehicles is not going to work for the masses, either, but this failure cause is not as directly attributable as it is with fleet vehicles. If you drive a bus 18 hours per day on average, you're going to need a way to almost-instantaneously charge/refuel it, to keep it operating. Refilling a diesel tank in less than 10 minutes fits this model. How's your battery technology going to do this? But I digress...

From the article: "Either way, some investors are likely to end up with batteries that aren’t economical."  They spelled "all" as "some." Sloppy editing.

"So, Don," you might ask, "What is the problem with improving batteries as discussed in the linked article?"

I'm glad you asked.

The problem is battery lifetime (1). Do you own an older laptop computer? After four years, the battery is kaput. You must either buy a new battery, or remain tied to the outlet. That's fine for a computer, but I would need approximately a 14 mile extension cord to get to work with my car, once the battery dies. Right now... and as long as I've been alive... battery lifespans are about 2 to 4 years, depending on battery type. Sears and Wal-Mart take advantage of this by charging you extra for a 7-year battery, then pro-rating you for anything over two years once it dies. This guarantees you're buying your next battery in three or so years from S or W-M. That's marketing, not battery technology.

What I am saying is "You will be buying a new battery, no matter what its chemical makeup, every four years." That's like rebuilding your transmission or replacing the engine in an internal combustion engine (ICE) car, price wise. Would you buy a Mercedes if you knew you were going to have to pay $4000 in three years for repairs, over and above standard maintenance? Well, you would if the government gave you $10,000 to buy the car. Who's going to buy the used car, knowing that in a year or so, they're going to shell out $4K for a new battery? That ICE vehicle is looking better and better, as long as the price of gasoline stays below $4 per gallon.

And that, Nick, is where your "wind energy growth chart" comes from: Government subsidies (2). Without Uncle Sugar giving them money to build them, wind turbines are a net money loser. I happen to work in this field, so I'm not just spouting an opinion. The electronics involved along with turbine maintenance and repairs outweighs the small intermittent output you get from wind turbines. Your chart is great, but just like Mr. Musk's battery hype, it is very misleading. (3)A typical turbine runs approximately 25%-40% (last time I looked; I doubt wind speeds have varied much since then, though) of the time, which means you must have a back-up source to supplement the turbine when it is effectively a (4) bird nest pedestal or raptor hunting blind.

I wrote an article on the now-folded Oilpro platform a few years back detailing how to overcome the problems above, but since I don't have Elon's government money fountain to do it, I cannot implement my plan. Also, because I don't have his money, I cannot build money-losing wind turbines (2)to show a false growth curve based on the same bovine-sourced, carbon-based technology mentioned above. And lastly, because I don't have the money to throw away, I won't be investing in any of these battery startups.

Believe it or not, I'm a big fan of electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles. Have someone who is willing to pay me $1 million per year for the rest of my life contact me, and I'll show whomever how to do both with today's technology. The way it is being approached now is doomed to failure. It is not unlike folks trying to design the best buggy whip as Henry Ford is dialing up his assembly line. Old thinking solves old problems.

Thanks again for the invitation, Tom. I'm guessing I'm the only one who will thank you for it. Most are cursing you under their breath for bringing such a heathen into their midst (5)

1. The Nissan Leaf is the worlds best selling EV. Examination of its 24kwh battery life shows an average loss of capacity of 18% after 5 years. This battery will probably be functional as an EV battery for another 3-5 years. At the end of that period its life is not over. Its function as an EV battery maybe past but that same battery can provide decades of storage capacity in a stationary role either singly at a domestic level or grouped in a utility scale facility.

https://www.nimblefins.co.uk/nissan-leaf-battery-capacity-range

They have had some issues with the 30kwh (possibly being cooked by fast chargers) but the data on the 24kwh is as above

https://insideevs.com/nissan-issues-statement-on-leaf-30-kwh-battery-degradation/

Additionally I have spoken to enough Prius Owning taxi drivers who account for their vehicle batteries (NiMH) lasting 250K + miles. 

 

2. Subsidies were needed to help new technology break into the market. Secondly as the externality costs of fossil fuels are often not accounted for and in the reluctance of governments to apply mechanisms like a Carbon tax subsidies act to level the playing field.

This article is an interesting read on externality costs for different fuel sources (including renewables) 

http://www.revistasice.com/CachePDF/CICE_83_85-100__6F3A8C1A7D5A6DFD0995C4DA22FC7635.pdf

3. This comment is a very common misconception from people who know little or nothing about wind power. They cannot differentiate between capacity factor and operation time. Your statement would lead some to believe that wind turbines either operate at 100% output or 0%. The fact is their output is usually between those two points for the majority of the time. In 2016 I visited the control centre for an offshore windfarm in the UK. The turbines are in operation for approximately 95% of the time with a capacity factor >40%. From site to site these figures will vary according to how good those sites are. 

See chart below for a Texas wind farm as an example - at no point over 4 days does the wind farm stop producing electricity. 

4. Another purported myth which is largely based on a historical problem with lattice tower wind turbines built in California ( Altamont pass) which were attractive to birds, particularly raptors as they could build nests on the lattices.. Since 1990 hardly any wind turbines have been built with lattice towers, indeed manufacturers deliberately design the Nacelles in such a way that it is impossible for birds to build nests. Furthermore larger turbines have slower rotating blades so less likely to result in collisions. 

If you are worried about birds perhaps ban glass windows, cars or the king of all bird killers - the domestic cat. 

This article quotes the 2014 state of Birds report. 

https://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/north-america-wind-turbines-kill-around-300000-birds-annually-house-cats-around-3000000000.html

5. 😄😄😄

 

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13 hours ago, Don Minter said:

Thanks again for the invitation, Tom. I'm guessing I'm the only one who will thank you for it. Most are cursing you under their breath for bringing such a heathen into their midst.

Don !

Great to read your musings again.  I remember the articles you wrote on this on the old Oilpro site.  Too bad all those articles were wiped out when Oilpro shut down.

No worries about your words, its fun to see you diving back into the fray of batteries, EVs and wind turbines.

There are some darn good intellectual discussions on this fairly new Oil Price forum.

You can write full blown articles and post them on the forum in the "blogs" section, and provide a link your article to other sites (such as LinkedIn).

Forum guidelines (do's and don'ts) are here

And here is my general advice as a moderator to forum members:

*** Important !   I do *not* expect others to agree with my opinions.  I tend to have rather unusual opinions about international Oil & Gas.  I *do* hope that readers will fearlessly voice their own views about international oil & gas.

As a former moderator on the Oilpro forum, (and now a moderator here on the Oil Price Community forum) I *encourage* dissent, and *encourage* Freedom of Speech, and *encourage* others to freely voice their views and convictions about oil & gas. 

A diversity of global views is what makes the world a special place.  Conformity is just a slow, painful death of not speaking your mind.  So SPEAK UP.  Please don't be a jerk about about it, though.  If you want others to consider your views, please be willing to consider the views of others.

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FF heathens are a dime a dozen. Lol The electric age seems to be trending although in its infancy. 2030 has been my guess for peak oil. But remember, peak oil is just 1.5 mbpd of today's growth in a market getting close to 100 mbpd over a decade away. Oil is safe for many decades.

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18 hours ago, Don Minter said:

Thanks again for the invitation, Tom. I'm guessing I'm the only one who will thank you for it. Most are cursing you under their breath for bringing such a heathen into their midst.

Thanks for inviting Don, Tom.  Very interesting read.  I look forward to much more, on this topic and others.

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1 hour ago, Dan Warnick said:

Thanks for inviting Don, Tom.  Very interesting read.  I look forward to much more, on this topic and others.

@Don Minter

Back over to you...

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On a grid basis, because of widely varying pricing of the cost of electricity, storage can make money at prices that seem odd to most. Seems illogical to me, but there are such things a negative pricing, essentially getting paid to take the juice. 

The lithium thing, yeah, I don't see how it can work on a utility scale. There are other technologies that show real promise, and you don't have to mine a country the size of Mongolia to do it. 

Northern European countries are also driving this bubble as they transition to all electric on so many things.

For now, most of this JV money is private. A lot of money was lost in the previous twenty years, "haircuts" taken after learning a lot. Now factories are reopening, investment flowing in. We'll see. Storage is the holy grail for renewable electricity. I wonder how Monty Python feels about this chalice?

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1 hour ago, John Foote said:

On a grid basis, because of widely varying pricing of the cost of electricity, storage can make money at prices that seem odd to most. Seems illogical to me, but there are such things a negative pricing, essentially getting paid to take the juice. 

The lithium thing, yeah, I don't see how it can work on a utility scale. There are other technologies that show real promise, and you don't have to mine a country the size of Mongolia to do it. 

Northern European countries are also driving this bubble as they transition to all electric on so many things.

For now, most of this JV money is private. A lot of money was lost in the previous twenty years, "haircuts" taken after learning a lot. Now factories are reopening, investment flowing in. We'll see. Storage is the holy grail for renewable electricity. I wonder how Monty Python feels about this chalice?

As the EV market grows there will be a steady and growing supply of redundant EV batteries that will still have decades of life as station storage units which can be utilised

10.000 1st Gen Nissan Leaf Batteries with 50% capacity left can store 120 Mwh but more critically can bring online 300 MW in a few seconds which makes them an extremely useful frequency response tool. That power delivery will need to taper off  but it buys critical seconds for slower response generators to kick in. 

In the UK such services are contracted by National Grid

https://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/electricity/balancing-services/frequency-response-services/firm-frequency-response

Thereafter the quantities will be required will be huge to provide diurnal storage of any meaningful quantity. If society reaches a point where 100,000's / millions of batteries are being changed in cars each year the potential to build up storage systems comparable with large pumped storage are feasible. 

750,000 Leaf Batteries (as above) = 1 of these https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinorwig_Power_Station (1750 MW Pumped storage) from a storage perspective but could produce 12x the output for a short period. 

One of the advantages of batteries is they can be distributed over many different locations which eliminates the potential risks of having all assets on one site. 

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Ive been in the oil business 32yrs. In bp i was looking at all the alternatives to see if and how an “energy” company could play in that space.  When asked (again) about a breakthrough in battery technology I replied. “Batteries are like Belgium.  Its been invaded so many times but in the end they all leave and nothing has changed”. 

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Yes, there is a huge pressure to develope better batteries. That again makes it attractive to speculation and hoax. In that sense it is a bubble. Typical bubble. I have read many many articles about new promising technologies, that will outperform any known chemistry. But when you start to dig deeper, then you find some "minor" problems, like too little cycle count, or too expensive materials etc. Which never get resolved.
But then again, battery prices drop every year 10%. Not much, but with every little step batteries will find more and more application. It looks like there will be no killer application, killer technology. But Lithium battery price has dropped 80% during the last 10 years. 
It seem to be quite similar with mobile 3G technology, which promised revolution, and was hyped accordingly with a lot of speculative money involved. Instead evolution happened. Is oil wouldn't disappear in few years, Li batteries wouldn't either.

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