April 1, 2020
The Way We Get Power Is About to Change Forever

The Way We Get Power Is About to Change Forever


There’s a cloud looming over the future of clean energy. It’s called curtailment, and it’s the biggest obstacle to weaning the world off fossil fuels. Curtailment actually happens when we produce too much wind or solar power at certain times of the day and we have to just — shut it down. But what if we sent that extra electricity into giant batteries, to use when the sun goes down or the wind stops blowing? That day just might be coming sooner than you think. The easiest way to curtail curtailment would be a massive explosion of energy storage. Ideally: batteries. There’s just one problem. Batteries are still way too expensive. Take a place like Texas. A quarter of the electricity from the Lone Star state comes from wind. When the wind dies down, Texans just fire up a natural-gas power plant to make up the difference. Battery prices would have to drop by half in order to compete with those Texan natural gas plants. Today, less than one tenth of one percent of the world’s electricity spends any time in a storage battery, and even by 2040 the best forecasts say that batteries will make up just three percent of the world’s power supply. But consider the experience curve. Renewable energy is a technology, not a fuel, so prices follow what economists call an experience curve: the more solar panels we make, the better we get at making them. In fact, every time the number of panels in the world doubles, the cost to make them drops by 28 percent. Solar power just recently became the cheapest electricity in the world, and it’s only going to get cheaper. And it turns out, the same thing is happening with batteries. As we build more — with electric cars and electricity storage — the cost of batteries plummets. It’s already dropped 80 percent in the last decade, and could do the same in the next. Boom. At those prices, battery storage in a place like Texas suddenly becomes a no-brainer. We’re already starting to see it happen in places where electricity is expensive. In Hawaii, the rainforest island of Kauai swapped its fossil-fuel power for solar-plus-batteries, And Tesla has made deals in California and Australia to install the world’s biggest battery fields. The battery baron – Elon Musk  says his newly built, massively populated gigafactory will spit out batteries ‘faster than bullets from a machine gun,’ It will single-handedly double the global supply. And he wants to start building at least two more Gigafactories in 2018. But Musk is in for an arms race. Chinese companies say they’ll build capacity for about three gigafactories worth of batteries by 2021. Samsung, LG Chem and others are also joining the fray. Now, this is not a done deal. If the battery revolution is going to work, tens of millions of people must switch to electric cars over the next decade to feed the experience curve. But there are also new technologies coming soon like silicon anodes, solid state batteries, and lithium air that could skip us ahead on the experience curve by more than a decade, making battery-powered trains, ships and even airplanes possible. So, imagine a world where where city skies are clear of pollution, and where electricity is cheap and abundant. It’s not crazy to assume that 20 years from now, over half the world’s power will come from nature, backed by batteries. And it all might be happening sooner than you think.

100 thoughts on “The Way We Get Power Is About to Change Forever

  1. This is a grossly simplified description of the problem. It seems like something sponsored by Tesla. No one, thus far, has addressed the issue of battery's life span of no more than 20 years and how to recycle them. Tesla and Elon are pushing to build a ticking bomb for the renewable energy industry.

  2. Batteries shouldn't be at central locations. They should be installed at homes and factories. Closer to the source. The homeowners and businesses must install them. In smaller sizes they will be easier to buy.

  3. What about NF3 pollution from making solar panels? Hope R&D is going into reducing NF3 – more harmful than co2

  4. We already have water we can use water and gravity feed it and that’s basically a battery ya know

  5. its odd how this video assumes that batteries, solar and wind technology will advance yet coal and gas power plants and their related aspects like cars will not advance in technology.

  6. Why not just store the energy and in the foarm of weights or water pumped to a higher sorce? Batteries bring a lot of chemicals into the mix

  7. How can you make a misleading video like this? If we keep using natural resources at this rate we are going to run out of them you are describing a dream that is going to turn in to a nighmare for humanity

  8. The question is limited resources to build batteries will hinder its development and storage unless we invent a complete different storage

  9. I think people fixate too much on chemical means of storing energy. Sure, for vehicles, lets use batteries, but for grid scale supply, perhaps a cheaper option would be better. Lithium batteries can be energy dense, but I believe for grid scale energy storage, Pumped Heat storage might be cheaper. Its where energy is stored as a heat difference between a hot and a cold tank. Then the heat is used to heat up a working gas to make it expand into pistons or turbine. Any cheap material can hold the thermal energy. Rubble, concrete shards, gravel, etc. And any geography can do it, its not like pumped hydro. And the bigger it becomes, the more efficient it will be due to less energy dissipated because the surface area per volume is less as the volume(capacity) goes bigger. This tech screams scale-ability so hard I dont know why its not hyped as much as lithium batteries

  10. The ecological cost of Solar and Batteries at a global scale is probably worse than fossil fuels. Luckily there isn't nearly enough lithium in the world to produce a global battery bank, so we don't have to worry about that

  11. I am all for this, but continue to see slowdowns happening especially when it comes to the financial situations.

  12. Do you understand what battery made of?
    How battery is made?
    How long a battery lifespan?
    Wether or not battery is renewable?
    Boom sudden your video sounds like bullshit.

  13. Here's a great idea: instead of all these woke commentators who like to publicly talk about all these great ideas for alternative energy sources making videos, how about they just figure out how to make an amazing battery that will beat out the efficiency of fossil fuels?

  14. There is a pile of ways to storage renewable energy, electrochemically is just one of them, and still not the best.

  15. Is the mining impact going to increase dramatically as we extract more of these materials from the earth? If so, we need to figure out how to avoid this limiting factor before delving too far too fast. So, how close are we to mining asteroids/ extraplanetory bodies?

  16. dearest bloomberg, i like your videos but there are some false hoods said in your video…. solar is not the cheapest everywhere in the world, so to say it is the cheapest is massively wrong…. it may be the cheapest is at the equator, but as you move toward the poles it becomes more and more expensive per kilowatt… please be more careful in the future….

  17. What if we encourage people to have smaller batteries in each home? I am sorry but I think western civilization is far behind from easterns in saving nature. Even my home has a 230 Ampere battery.

  18. How about charging our electric cars at work during the day with excess solar, then using some of the electricity stored in the cars batteries during evenings when we're at home?

  19. so naive to think that those clean energy source don't produce pollutions.
    imagine how many mines have to be opened in order to meet the need of REE (Rare Earth Elements) to make the wind turbines, the solar cells, the batteries?

    not to mention just a decade after this 'revolution', the garbage from broken batteries, solar cells, the garbage is quite toxic due to radioactive materials, and there would be A LOT of this type of garbage if we are to embrace the revolution of this-so-called 'green energy'. as far as i know, the lifespan of batteries and solar cells aren't that long.

    not to mention again, solar and wind technology can only convert 40%-ish of its actual energy into electricity, it is just way below natural gas, coal, oil at 70% – >80%

    i mean look at Norway, they can give tax cut towards those who use electric car (tesla) just because they are rich enough by selling oil to other countries. if this export would've been stopped, i'm pretty much sure they can't afford to give tax cut to electric car users.

    we're so bounded with fossil fuels it's hard to move from it.
    though i believe that geothermal, natural gas, water, nuclear can be the cleanest source of electricity we have.

  20. The biggest obstacle to weaning the world off fossil fuels is the left and their baseless opposition to 4th generation nuclear energy.

  21. This video is so sad. Nuclear is the only way to produce large amounts of clean energy. Batteries are as bad as fossil fuels. You need fossil fuels to make batteries. Stop wasting money on this ideas. Put all that money in to R&D.

  22. Conveniently omitted was the negative environmental impact of manufacturing solar and wind systems along with battery production and later recycling.

  23. So, it's been over a year since this video was published (Sept 2018 – May 2019), where are we now with solar and wind power? Battery tech has improved… and most of it (batteries manufactured) has gone into Tesla cars.

    The problem with solar and wind is energy density. It takes a large area to harness the diffused power of solar and wind.

  24. This video gets a D for ignoring the fact that unused solar energy has been efficiently stored for decades by pumping water uphill and storing it there until needed for recapturing via gravity. It also ignored the fact that huge battery farms will become obsolete as soon as better technology is developed and that the huge footprint for making such batteries and then disposing of them after a decade makes them unsustainable, just like what's already happened with so many wind-farms that have an average life-span of 25 years.

  25. Wishful thinking!
    Batteries are not the solution.
    International power co operation is.
    Power can be generated in one continent and sold on another averaging out the peak curves.

  26. I work for big mining . We mine the non renewable resources needed to make big batteries . Big mining needs big oil .. big batteries need big mining and big mining needs big oil. Short sighted , narrow minded hysterical hypocrites made bad decisions.

  27. Have you seen the new freight trains, freight ships, passenger planes, freight planes, and eighteen wheel trucks powered by batteries? No? That's because none of those means of transportation exist. And they won't exist.

  28. Or you could use it to produce goods instead, and reshore manufacturing to the places that use the goods.

  29. Why not a giant grid that relate the entire world it will be countrys that have sun light "morning hours" will power countrys at night hours and reverse

  30. Just went to UK in 2019. No. I've hardly seen any battery cars. We are still pretty much will drive gasoline cars for the next decade easily no matter what anyone predict.

  31. There is a bigger problem with batteries. They have a relatively short life. Even if they come down in price, they are too expensive long term. Another problem is that power companies have nothing to gain from cheap power, just like pharmaceuticals have nothing to gain from curing cancer.

  32. The future isn't using excess electricity to power batteries. It's using it to convert co2 back to a fossil fuel.

    Hydrocarbons are much better at storing energy than batteries. Forget batteries.

  33. There are huge advancements in the field of Molten-Metal battery technology that will make all of this possible in 6 years time.

  34. Now they are getting cheaper – wait till all the natural materials that go into making them become scares, With Billions of homes around the planet moving to have solar or wind power with battery that's a lot of digging up the trees and ground etc. Then they have a lifespan of really not that long in respect to potential human life times and years ahead of us. I don't believe solar or wind is the long term solution, its just a way to get the fat cats old energy empires rattled and off there lofty perch for a reset towards something different. It takes fossil fuel to make the wind and solar and battery hardware.

  35. Its not the batteries im worried about its the price of electricity and taxes on it when the switch happens

  36. And now how do we safely dispose of these batteries when they are no longer useful without harming the environment? I'm sure someone has been thinking of battery waste management.

  37. Use the excess power to split carbon dioxide molecules into carbon and oxygen then take water molecules and split them into hydrogen and oxygen mix the hydrogen and carbon to make methane then release the oxygen into the atmosphere. The methane molecules are just a type of chemical battery but instead the energy is liberated as heat

  38. Hydrogen is the best battery. 200 times better in terms of energy density. With unlimited cycles. Battery dropped 50% of it's capacity in a few years.
    Battery is so unreliable.

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