Tesla’s lithium-ion storage battery, the largest in the world, is now operating in the state of South Australia. The 129-megawatt-hour battery has the capability to store and dispatch electricity generated by a nearby wind farm. It can power some 30,000 homes. Frequent blackouts have been causing havoc in South Australia in the past two years. As a result, the state government decided to add energy storage (among other options) to prevent this from happening. Wind will charge the Tesla Powerpack during off peak hours which will then deliver electricity during peak hours to the South Australian grid. The state gets 41% of its electricity from renewable energy, one of the highest penetrations of wind and solar in the world.

Tesla’s claim to the world’s largest storage battery will probably be short-lived. Bloomberg says Hyundai Electric and Energy Systems is building a 150-megawatt lithium-ion battery, 50% larger than Tesla’s, that will be operating in February 2018 in Ulsan near the southeast coast of South Korea. Developers have announced lithium-ion battery storage projects with total capacity of 1,650 megawatts-per-hour in 2017, four times the amount for all of 2016, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Ali Asghar, a BNEF senior associate said:

“Tesla has set a benchmark on how quickly you can install and commission a storage battery of this size. Falling costs are making them a compelling mainstream option for energy-storage applications in many areas around the world, and projects even bigger than Tesla’s are now under construction.” 

While many are suggesting battery prices for electric vehicles will continue to fall dramatically over the next decade, one auto maker disagrees. Hyundai Motor Co believes electric vehicle battery prices will level off by 2020 due to supply constraints of key ingredients, The reason is that demand for minerals such as nickel, cobalt and lithium used in EV batteries is forecast to soar in the coming years as governments around the world crack down on vehicle pollution and automobile manufacturers increase investments in electric models. Batteries are the most expensive part of EVs, and their affordability is key to consumer adoption of the technology. In order to achieve the economies of scale to secure lower priced minerals, Hyundai/Kia is discussing possible joint production with other companies such as Fiat-Chrysler. (On the need by auto makers to secure minerals for EV batteries see here.)

Chinese auto manufacturer BAIC Motor Corp says it plans to stop selling petroleum fuel-powered cars by 2025. The company will start by ceasing the sale of these vehicles in Beijing in 2020. To reduce air pollution, the Chinese government has set strict quotas for the manufacture of electric and plug-in hybrid cars that beings in 2019.  China wants the vehicles to comprise at least 20% of total Chinese auto sales by 2025. In October, Chongqing Changan Automobile Co Ltd was the first Chinese company to say it would stop selling conventional combustion-engine cars in 2025.

In a recent reportTechnavio porjects the new energy vehicle market in China will grow around 36% per year during the period 2017-2021. Ultra-capacitors in electric vehicle energy storage systems and the focus on reducing EV charging time will be the top two emerging trends for this market during the forecast period. According to research analyst Amey Vikram, Chinese electric buses will have an average range of 20 kilometers with 3-5 minutes of charging, which is done via bus stops during passenger boarding time.

Information Trends says 6000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will be on the world’s roads by the end of this year. By 2021, at least 10 car manufacturers will be selling fuel cell vehicles, including Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The US has generated 50% of global fuel cell vehicle sales so far, followed by Japan and South Korea. Europe has seen 10% of fuel cell sales. Japan has the most hydrogen stations.

McKinsey & Company tells us How the auto industry is preparing for the car of the future





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