Last night I appeared on Fox Business to discuss the future of energy storage and batteries. The United States has fallen desperately behind in production and innovation in the industry, with Japan, Korea & China controlling 92% of global market share and the US only 2%. Batteries serve as the foundation of our energy system, essential not only for putting the “mobile” in mobile phones, but serving as a key energy production service in automobiles, aviation, medical devices, and as balance for intermittent renewable energy. The problem has been that there’s no “Moore’s Law” for battery technology: Intel’s founder correctly predicted in 1965 that microchip capacity will double every 24 months, which explains why my Motorola smartphone possesses more computing power than the warehouse-sized mainframes that sent a man to the moon in 1969. We’ve had battery technology for 2,000 years, but energy storage innovations are failing to keep up with the technology it’s designed to power. That’s why public investment in R&D and battery-affiliated infrastructure is essential. Now, the future of batteries in cars may not be 100% battery powered but rather an electric drive train fueled by hydrogen passing through a fuel cell. But batteries will be essential as part of the Rooftop Revolution, allowing households to generate free electricity from the sun, powering batteries during the day that can kick on after sunset to provide power all night.
Tyson Slocum is Director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program. Follow him on Twitter @TysonSlocum