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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Energy Storage Capacity Increasing At 23% A Year

   From Next Big Future:

Ideas on a Finite Planet, recently explained that lithium-ion batteries have a fifteen year history of exponential price reduction. Between 1991 and 2005, the capacity that could be bought with $100 went up by a factor of 11. The trend continues through to the present day.

     That is a growth rate of  18.7% annually. However inflation also means the $100 is less so make it about 22% a year.

      That is not Moore's Law for computers (doubling every 18 months is 59% growth a year). However it isn't that far away either - 22% means doubling every 42 months.

     There is also a similar improvement going on in solar cell efficiency.

"In 2014, the highest efficiencies have been achieved by using multiple junction cells at high solar concentrations (44.7% by The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Soitec, CEA-Leti and the Helmholtz Center Berlin"

     The efficiency of energy conversion cannot obviously reach much more than that - as one gets closer to 100% there is less room for improvement. However the cost of manufacturing cells is dropping fast. One of Kurtzweil's prediction was that by 2014, ie now, solar energy would become cheaper than energy from oil  though that would be the oil price before shale gas was available so the current oil price is also cheaper than oil then. Even so he seems to be a few years behind but only a few.

      Nonetheless a world where in individual collection of energy is easy and we can store and even carry large amounts of it is going to be a very different world. And unlike very large stationary power generators, which bit is easy for government parasites to batten on and legislate out of existence, this small stuff is difficult for them to prevent.

    The era of cheap energy and therefore of massive wealth has not yet dawned - only political parasitism is preventing it.

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Err not quite. Supply of lithium may well limit the expansion of that market into bulk electrical energy storage.Whilst the world's oceans are estimated to contain about 230 billion tonnes ( at very low concentration,presently commercially accessible deposits on land are nearer 15 million tonnes ( which would be insufficient for the present number of road vehicles. Arguably readily replaceable battery packs that vehicle users replace with fully charged one's at places similar to fuel stations could become common place, but the economics hold it back at present.
Perhaps. Perhaps not.
Moore's Law has held through a number of such absolute technological barriers. Breakthroughs always happen.

Some time ago I did an article on using the Qattara Depression as a site for extracting minerals from sea water. but I don't know what quantities of lithium it would produce or at what price.
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