Smart Energy Voices- Episode 83

Smart Energy Voices- Episode 83

On The Radar Screen: Emerging Trends and Technologies to Watch, with Peter Kelly-Detwiler

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In this episode of Smart Energy Voices, host Debra Chanil shares a talk from Peter Kelly-Detwiler, a long-time friend of Smart Energy Decisions and author of The Energy Switch. Peter discusses new technologies and their advantages, drawbacks, and relative state of maturation, as well as a useful framework for how to think about new technologies and how they might affect enterprises going forward.


You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in...

  • The current state of the world of energy [02:53]
  • Energy storage and renewables [07:29]
  • Transitions in storage [16:57]
  • Modular nuclear reactors and hydrogen hubs [20:06]
  • Autonomous driving and long-haul vehicles [23:52]


National support for clean energy

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) are set to inject a significant amount of money into the energy industry, with $14 billion allocated for residential efficiency alone. Despite this, there is a need for further clarity on how the funds will be distributed, what criteria will be used for qualification, and when the funds will be made available.

Changes in transportation

Seven or eight years ago, electric transportation and energy storage weren’t yet seen as economically viable. However, many batteries are now being added to the power grid, with this year’s number doubling last year’s. States will receive funding from the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) to build charging stations along highways. These stations will have at least four chargers every 50 miles, which can provide vehicles with 150kW or more.

Soon, smaller passenger vehicles are expected to shift toward electric power. Lithium-ion batteries are a more efficient energy option, with up to 90% greater round-trip efficiency than other alternatives. Hydrogen fuel may be more appropriate for longer-haul vehicles, as it can be refueled quickly. Hydrogen would also allow the vehicle to shed the extra fuel weight once the haul is completed.

Shifts in storage

Currently, lithium-ion batteries are only cost-effective for about four hours. However, there is hope that this will change as cobalt is phased out of the system. Cobalt is costly, processed in China, and produced using child labor in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Farasis has announced its intention to produce sodium-ion batteries, with vehicles powered by salt-based batteries expected to be available by 2023.

In the near future, there will be a separation of lithium-based technologies. They will mainly be used either for transportation or stationary storage. Lithium is the preferred choice for transportation because it is the lightest metal. However, Form Energy is developing iron-based storage for stationary use, which can last hundreds of hours.

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