As the planet gets hotter, engineers are racing to find ways to store energy on a massive scale, clearing the way for a transition to renewable electricity.
It’s been hailed as fuel of the future. Hydrogen is clean, flexible and energy efficient. But in practice there are huge hurdles to overcome before widespread adoption can be achieved.
Video timeline: 00:00 How hydrogen fuel is generated. 02:04 How hydrogen fuel could be used. 02:46 Why hydrogen fuel hasn’t taken off in the past. 03:40 Is hydrogen fuel safe? 04:31 Hydrogen’s advantage over batteries. 05:00 How sustainable is hydrogen fuel? 06:13 Why the hype about hydrogen may be different this time.
San Francisco-based Ample has brought electric vehicle battery swapping to the U.S. The company was in stealth mode for seven years before launching recently with five swapping stations in the Bay Area. Uber drivers in the area are Ample’s first customers.
The concept isn’t new. A start-up called Better Place launched an EV and battery swapping company after it raised $850 million in venture funding, but it ultimately went bankrupt in 2013. Tesla also demoed battery swapping in 2013 but only opened one station for about a year. Elon Musk said Tesla owners were not interested in it.
Battery swapping is already common in China. Electric vehicle maker Nio, for example, plans to double its network of swapping stations to 500 this year and plans to open stations in Norway as part of its expansion into Europe. Ample has a different approach, with modular batteries and a focus on fleets. CNBC got an inside look at its headquarters and battery factory in San Francisco to learn how the company plans to bring battery swapping into the mainstream.
Contributing Correspondent Cathleen O’Grady joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about a company that stores renewable energy by hoisting large objects in massive “gravity batteries.”
Also on this week’s show, Erick Lundgren, a postdoctoral researcher at Aarhus University, talks about how water from wells dug by wild horses and feral donkeys provides a buffer to all different kinds of animals and plants during the driest times in the Sonora and Mojave deserts.
Demand for lithium is expected to outpace global supply as consumers switch to battery-powered vehicles. With China currently leading in processing of the vital raw material, the U.S. government is looking to boost domestic production. Photo illustration: Carlos Waters/WSJ
Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere — in phones, laptops, tablets, cameras and increasingly cars. Demand for lithium-ion batteries has risen sharply in the past five years and is expected to grow from a $44.2 billion market in 2020 to a $94.4 billion market by 2025, mostly due to the boom in electric cars.
And a shortage of lithium-ion batteries is looming in the U.S. Former Tesla CTO and Elon Musk’s right-hand man, JB Straubel, started Redwood Materials in 2017 to help address the need for more raw materials and to solve the problem of e-waste. The company recycles end-of-life batteries and then supplies battery makers and auto companies with materials in short supply as EV production surges around the world. Straubel gave CNBC an inside look at its first recycling facility in Carson City, Nevada. Watch the video to learn why battery recycling will be an essential part in making EV production more sustainable.
U.S. automakers are finally making bold commitments to electrify their fleets, but in the short-term, there may not be enough lithium-ion batteries to go around. While China dominates the battery manufacturing supply chain, and Europe is working to catch up, the U.S. still lags far behind.
As batteries become a matter of energy independence and national security, here’s what the U.S. can do to catch up. As automakers continue to grapple with a semiconductor shortage, some experts say the next supply chain crisis for the U.S. could involve lithium-ion batteries. As companies like GM, Ford and a slew of start-ups are ramping up their electric vehicle ambitions, current battery production in the U.S. will not be able to keep up with demand.
A Tesla Supercharger is a 480-volt direct currentfast-charging technology built by American vehicle manufacturer Tesla, Inc. for their all-electric cars. The Supercharger network was introduced on September 24, 2012 with six Supercharger stations. As of December 31, 2020, Tesla operates over 23,277 Superchargers in over 2,564 stations worldwide (an average of 9 chargers per station). There are 1,101 stations in North America, 592 in Europe, and 498 in the Asia/Pacific region. Supercharger stalls have a connector to supply electrical power at maximums of 72 kW, 150 kW or 250 kW.
The original V1 and V2 Tesla supercharging stations charge with up to 150 kW of power distributed between two cars with a maximum of 150 kW per car, depending on the version. They take about 20 minutes to charge to 50%, 40 minutes to charge to 80%, and 75 minutes to 100% on the original 85 kWh Model S. The charging stations provide high-power direct-current (DC) charging power directly to the battery, bypassing the internal charging power supply.
In September 2017, Tesla announced the availability of urban Superchargers. The urban Superchargers are more compact than the standard Supercharger stalls, and will be primarily deployed in urban areas such as mall parking lots and garages. Compared to the standard Superchargers, urban Superchargers have a maximum power delivery of 72 kW. Instead of 150 kW distributed between two vehicles at a Supercharger A/B stall pair, each Urban Supercharger stall provides dedicated 72 kW capacity.
A few of the Tesla supercharging stations use solar panels to offset energy use and provide shade. Tesla plans to install additional solar power generation at Superchargers.
The U.S. electric grid is outdated. Designed for a world that runs on fossil fuels, our grid needs some major tech upgrades in order to transition to a more distributed, all-renewable system. That means smart, internet connected hardware working in tandem with advanced data analytics software to ensure that supply and demand are balanced, even when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.