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Automotive Battery Makers to Benefit From Smart Grid

Driving to work and flipping on a light switch may seem to unrelated activities, but very soon lithium ion batteries will assist in making both possible.
The nascent electric vehicle market is likely to standardize on lithium ion batteries. Today the cost of plug-in and all-electric vehicles is too high for many consumers thanks to batteries, which can add $10,000 or more to the price tag. The cost of batteries is only expected to come down after battery cells and packs are produced in sufficient volume to achieve economies of scale.
Despite the media attention around new vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, Pike Research does not expect the combined sales of PHEVs and EVs in the U.S. to eclipse 100,000 units annually until 2013. As outlined in the new report “Electric Vehicle Batteries,” auto manufacturers will be slow to roll out the new vehicles, which will limit the size of their battery orders. Several of the new EV models have already been delayed, which forces battery manufacturers to adapt to sudden changes. Many of these companies are younger and not as well capitalized, so the margin for error if orders rapidly shrink or grow is smaller.
Utilities are now exploring using the same batteries that go in EVs to compensate for fluctuations in electric power transmission and generation. Just as different types of vehicles need batteries that can deliver high power (such as hybrids) as well as those that are energy dense (for EVs), grid applications also can benefit from different types of li-ion batteries.
Grid storage will provide a more stable secondary market for EV batteries. While EV sales are likely to vacillate depending on the price of gasoline and government incentives, utilities will systematically add battery storage as they bring on new intermittent renewable power such as wind and solar, and as they upgrade the grid to make it smarter and more efficient.
Several battery companies, including EnerDel and A 123 Systems, are simultaneously pursuing both markets and will benefit from the split strategy. Each of these companies has also received federal funds from the Recovery Act for project and manufacturing grants aimed at electrifying the transportation industry as well as for building a Smart Grid. The EV industry may well waiver depending on consumer acceptance of the new class of vehicles. If it does, the energy industry may be ready to take on a surplus in batteries.
Article appearing courtesy of Matter Network


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Derek lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, fungi, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves fresh roasted chiles, peanut butter on everything, and buckets of coffee. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!


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