Use User Fees to Fund Vehicle Electrification

The principal barrier to the development of electric drive in the United States is not technology, it is finance.  American scientists and auto companies invented the modern electric vehicle.  But in the race to deploy electric vehicles and manufacture the lithium-ion batteries that power them, the United States lags behind.

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, global sales of electric vehicles should reach 11 million by 2025 and then surge to 30 million in 2030, as they become cheaper to make than internal combustion engine cars.  China will lead the transition, with electric vehicle sales accounting for almost 50% of the […]

The Evolution of the Electric Car

About 10 years ago, I was sitting in a not very impressive conference room at Tesla Motors in Freemont, California.  I was making my rounds of the major battery companies in the United States to explain to them the idea behind NAATBatt.  Tesla had just started, or was about to start, the production of its first automobile, the Roadster.  As I sat and talked to members of the senior management team at Tesla, I distinctly remember thinking to myself that these were some of the smartest people I had met in the industry.  It was just a shame they were […]

Zinc Battery Workshop Examines a Possible Competitor to Lithium-ion Technology

The NAATBatt Workshop on Zinc Battery Technology in New York City concluded on Friday, November 16.  Informal reviews from among the 100+ attendees indicate that it might have been NAATBatt’s best program yet.  Significantly, the Workshop was the first program that NAATBatt has ever sold out in its 10-year history.  That should tell you something, both about zinc batteries and about NAATBatt.

The Workshop examined the state of the art in zinc battery technology.  It featured presentations by companies currently offering zinc-air, zinc bromide, nickel zinc, zinc silver, zinc and manganese oxide battery systems for sale in the marketplace.  The capabilities […]

Workshop on Zinc-Based Batteries to Explore An Alternative to Lithium-Ion Technology

On Friday, November 16, NAATBatt International, in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, will hold a special Workshop on Zinc Battery Technology in Stationary Energy Storage Applications.

The main purpose of the workshop is to highlight the potential of another offshoot of advanced battery technology—zinc-based battery technology—that has been overlooked by many during the “Lithium-Ion Decade” of the 2010’s.

Zinc battery technology has come a long way.  Originally thought of as a primary (non-rechargeable) battery technology, scientific advances over the last ten years have allowed companies to develop and market secondary (rechargeable) zinc-based battery systems that have characteristics […]

Fire Drill! Battery Industry Dodges a Bullet in Proposed Changes to the International Fire Code

Last weekend, the advanced battery and electric drive industries dodged a bullet in Columbus, Ohio when a proposed amendment to the International Fire Code, F18-18, was not immediately approved.  F18-18 will, however, soon be reconsidered.  Public comments on F18-18 are due to the International Code Commission by July 16, 2018.

F18-18 takes aim at “Used and Off Specification Lithium-Ion Batteries.”  The proposed amendment imposes, among other things, severe restrictions on how many “used and off specification batteries” can be stored in a single indoor space.  The proposed restrictions would make the servicing, repair and transportation of lithium-ion automotive traction batteries outside […]

The 2017 Advanced Battery & Capacitor PatentEdge© Report is Now Available

I am pleased to announce that the Advanced Battery & Capacitor PatentEdge© report for 2017 has now been posted.

The ABC PatentEdge© report, produced by IP Checkups in cooperation with NAATBatt, summarizes worldwide patent filings for inventions relating to advanced battery and capacitor technology.

The 2017 report documents a modest rise in the number of patents filed worldwide for battery and capacitor related inventions, rising from about 24,000 in 2016 to more than 25,000 in 2017.  Patent filings in the United States outpaced filings in Europe and other patent granting jurisdictions.  Patents filings increased most rapidly in the areas of cells and […]

Advanced Battery Systems 101 Course Is a Great Success

Last year, the board of directors of NAATBatt International decided that, in furtherance of its organizational mission to promote advanced battery manufacturing in North America, NAATBatt would offer a series of courses to provide executives new to the industry and others interested in batteries with a basic primer on battery technology.  The initial course, titled “Advanced Battery Systems 101”, would cover the basics of battery theory and design, both of lithium-ion and lead acid batteries, and examine the considerations and processes involved in manufacturing a lithium-ion battery cell.

NAATBatt held the first Advanced Battery Systems 101 course earlier this week at […]

NAATBatt Offers the First General Battery Education Course for the Advanced Battery Industry

Next month NAATBatt will launch the first in what it hopes will be a series of education programs for persons new to the battery industry or just interested in learning more about advanced battery technology.  As the popularity of advanced battery technology has grown over the past few years, more newcomers are entering the industry than ever. The Board of Directors of NAATBatt International has decided to initiate a series of education programs about advanced battery technology that will help those newcomers get a quick but comprehensive understanding of the basics of battery science, technology and manufacturing processes.  NAATBatt hopes through these […]

NAATBatt Revises Its Mission

NAATBatt International has a storied history.  Founded in 2007 as a manufacturing cooperative dedicated to ensuring that the advanced lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles would be developed and manufactured in the United States, NAATBatt has evolved continuously in order to stay relevant to the battery industry and to provide the best value to its members.  Three years ago, NAATBatt decided to de-emphasize its relationship with the United States and state its mission in more international terms. That change was driven by the realization that the battery business is an international business and that the largest markets for advanced battery technology […]

Trump, the Paris Accord and the Future of Renewable Energy In the United States

Yesterday, President Donald Trump announced that he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate accord.  As it happened, I heard the news while at a restaurant following a day at the Intersolar-ees conference in Munich, Germany.  At the next table sat a group of 10-12 Europeans and Chinese, who had also been attending the conference.  When they heard the news of Trump’s announcement, one of them stood and offered a toast to his table.  This is good news, he said:  We all stand to gain market share.

As an American, that toast poured salt on a wound that was […]

Energy Storage Enables Transformation

Guest Author:  Anissa Dehamna, Principal Research Analyst, Navigant Research

Energy storage is a transformational technology. It converts electricity from a perishable good into a flexible resource. It changes the grid from a unidirectional power system to a dynamic network, and it is transforming how we produce, procure, and deliver energy. Storage does this by creating give in a system that has little inherent flexibility. In a white paper prepared for the Energy Storage Association (ESA) on a vision for energy storage in the United States, Navigant Research modeled the value of 35 GW of energy storage by 2025 against the cost […]

The Coming Battery Gap

Advanced battery technology is one of the critical technologies that will shape the 21st Century.  The ability to provide untethered electric power is an essential condition for advances in drones, robotics, light and heavy vehicles, consumer electronics, telecommunications, the Internet of Things, implantable medical devices and a host of other new technology systems.  Businesses will rise and fall based on their ability to innovate, produce and sell those systems in the economy of the 21st Century.

Advanced battery technology will also change the balance of power among nations.  Battery technology will factor greatly in the ability to project future military power.  […]

Vehicle Electrification Is Charging Ahead Again

Low gasoline prices, falling sales of EV’s in 2015, a new U.S. President who does not believe in climate change.  In light of these factors observers can be forgiven for thinking that any significant penetration by electric vehicles (xEV) of the light vehicle market is decades away at best.

But a funny thing has been happening in the xEV market.  Despite headwinds that might have killed the entire sector, the outlook for vehicle electrification is looking brighter than ever.  Thank improving battery technology and the long-term and surprisingly resilient dedication to environmental protection of both government and private industry.

An article in […]

Federal Battery Technology Licensing Forum to Headline NAATBatt 2017

For the past 20 years or more, the U.S. government has invested heavily in the development of advanced battery technology through a variety of agencies, departments and national laboratories. While many bemoan the loss of manufacturing batteries based on those technologies to companies located outside the United States, it is undisputed that the United States has led the world in developing the technologies themselves within laboratories located in the United States.

The NAATBatt 2017 Annual Meeting & Conference on March 14-16, 2017, will feature a new program designed to highlight the remarkable technologies developed with U.S. taxpayer dollars.  The Federal Battery […]

NAATBatt Workshop Explores the Drivers, Challenges and Opportunities of Advanced Battery Recycling

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, more than 95 GWh of used batteries will be extracted from hybrid and electric vehicles by 2025. Retiring ESS systems will add substantially to this lithium-ion battery waste.  This huge waste stream of potentially hazardous but also potentially valuable energy materials, such as cobalt, nickel, lithium and reformulated cathode materials, means that recycling high voltage lithium-ion batteries is likely to become one of the hottest topics in the electric vehicle and stationary energy storage industries in 2017.

Next week’s NAATBatt workshop on advanced battery recycling will be the first program to deal with the recycling […]

Advanced Batteries and Electric Drive on the Morning After

The advanced battery industry in the United States woke this morning to a new and unsettling reality.  After a decade or more of federal support for electric drive and advanced battery technology, it is unclear to what extent, if any, the next Administration and Congress will support efforts to break the U.S. vehicle fleet’s dependence on petroleum fuels.

There are reasons for pessimism: The petroleum industry strongly backed the Trump campaign.   Donald Trump once famously called climate change a Chinese hoax.  And the Republican Congress genuinely seems interested in rolling back environmental regulations and subsidies, which might well include the CAFE […]

The Case for Recycling High Voltage Advanced Batteries

The recycling of high voltage advanced batteries used in automotive, industrial and stationary energy storage (ESS) applications has long been a regular topic of conversation in the battery industry. The topic is a challenging one because, unlike recycling lead-acid batteries, which produces a waste stream of valuable and resalable lead, recycling advanced batteries based on lithium-ion, nickel metal hydride (NiMH), and nickel zinc chemistries is generally a cost-negative proposition. SAE International has a standing subcommittee on battery recycling, which been studying and making recommendations about advanced automotive battery recycling for several years.  EPRI will will shortly release a study about decommissioning ESS systems that include high voltage advanced batteries.  But […]

Venture and capital markets activity in advanced batteries picks up in 2q 2016

After a slow start to 2016, venture investment and merger and acquisition activity in the advanced battery market picked up significantly in the second quarter of 2016.  This new activity underscores the growing interest of the capital markets in advanced battery and energy storage technologies and the increasing proximity of several major, new advanced battery applications to commercial profitability.

According to a  report by Mercon Capital, during the second quarter of 2016, investors made 10 new venture investments, totaling $125 million, in advanced battery companies.  This more than doubled the $54 million invested in similar companies during the first quarter of […]

NAATBatt to sponsor an initiative for the recycling of advanced batteries

This past week many NAATBatt members attended the Intersolar/ees North America conference in San Francisco.  Although the Intersolar/ees program (including the excellent and well-attended NAATBatt Solar-Storage Workshop, “Making Money with Storage Today”) focused on solar-storage issues, there was another issue that kept popping up in questions during the conference sessions and during the NAATBatt board meeting, which took place at the conference:  What is going on with the recycling of lithium-ion batteries?

The questions of whether and how best to recycle lithium-ion batteries has been discussed for a while.  A Toxco (now Retriev) project to recycle lithium-ion batteries received $9.5 million […]

Lithium-ION’s growing dominance in the ESS market

Earlier this week Scientific American reported that AES Corp. has been awarded a contract to supply the world’s largest storage battery to Southern California Edison.  The battery, which will use lithium-ion chemistry, will be capable of holding and delivering over 100 megawatts of power an hour for four hours.  The battery will replace a traditional gas “peaker” plant, helping Southern California Edison accommodate peak loads in the West Los Angeles area.  The plant will come on line in 2021.

There are two parts of this story that are remarkable.  The first is that Southern California Edison’s purchase of battery energy storage […]

Rising oil prices will help the xev market

Last week I wrote in this column about the improving outlook for the xEV market, notwithstanding disappoint sales numbers over the past few years.  I pointed primarily to the continued willingness of governments around the world to provide subsidies and impose mandates that favor xEV’s.  I also noted that steady improvements in battery technology have resulted, and will continue to result, in lower costs and greater range for xEV’s, making them more attractive to consumers.

This week I would highlight another factor that is likely to be a major factor in driving the success of the xEV market:  the prospect of […]

Electric vehicle market looking better

The electric vehicle (EV) market is starting to look better after a disappointing start.  Growth in the EV market has been slower over the past few years than many would have expected.  Low gas prices and the failure of science to produce a hoped-for, and at one time generally expected, break-through in battery technology, have resulted in a lower rate of EV adoption through the early part of this decade than what was expected by many towards the end of the last decade.

But there are indications that growth may soon return to the EV market.  Crude oil prices are bumping […]

Solar-storage workshops at intersolar north america

For the third year in a row, NAATBatt International in collaboration with other associations active in energy storage and battery technologies (this year CalCharge and the California Energy Storage Association) will present two advanced workshops on solar-storage technology at Intersolar/ees North America.  The workshops will be held in Moscone Center West on July 13, 2016.

The purpose of the workshops is to help NAATBatt members better educate solar developers and installers about storage technology and better understand how solar-storage can make their developments more profitable.  Solar developers are becoming increasingly important consumers of storage technology, a trend that is only likely […]

Bus battery safety initiative kicks off

Last month SAE International, in collaboration with China Automotive Technology Research Center (CATARC), held the first meeting of the new Bus Battery Systems Committee.  The formation of the committee and the undertaking of its work, was recommended by NAATBatt International in response to growing concerns about the safety of large format lithium-ion batteries increasingly installed in mass transit buses around the world.

As I noted in an earlier column, China, the leading market for electric buses, has already started to implement safety regulations for its electric buses, most notably by banning the use of “tri-metal” (e.g., NMC) chemistries in bus batteries.   […]

Sudden closing of Chinese battery market to foreign suppliers is grounds for concern


In late April, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced that that any xEVs applying for a Chinese government subsidy had to contain a battery manufactured by one of 25 Chinese-owned companies listed on MIIT’s “White List.”  The announcement, which effectively closes the fastest growing advanced vehicle market in the world to non-Chinese battery suppliers, took many by surprise.  LG Chem and Samsung, which recently invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Chinese battery manufacturing facilities and are pointedly not on the “White List”, are said to be extremely concerned.  In the United States, XALT Energy last week […]

Back to the Wigwam

I am pleased to announce that after a careful and extended site selection process, NAATBatt International will return to The Wigwam resort outside Phoenix, Arizona for its NAATBatt’s 2017 Annual Meeting & Conference.  The dates of the conference will be March 14-16, 2017, with the Advanced Battery Golf Tournament and tournament dinner held on Monday, March 13.  Please mark your calendars now and save the date for what will be the best NAATBatt annual meeting yet.

As many of you will remember, NAATBatt held its annual meeting at The Wigwam resort in 2015.  The Wigwam is a scenic, 85 year-old Four […]

Advanced batteries get sexy again

Having spent a considerable part of my earlier career in corporate finance, I am always struck by the influence of fashion on the financial markets.  Industries and industrial sectors go in and out of fashion with the financial markets on a regular basis.  Sometimes there is a reason for the fashion (at least initially); sometimes there is not.  And always there are the rational markets guys trying to explain–lamely—why it actually all makes sense.

For the past several years, advanced batteries have been decidedly out of fashion with the financial markets.  The lithium-ion and electric vehicle bubble of the end of […]

Naatbatt solar-storage workshops planned for Intersolar North America


As previously noted in this column, NAATBatt International has renewed its partnership with Solar Promotions GmbH for the third year running in connection with the Intersolar/ees North America conference this July in San Francisco.  NAATBatt International will serve as lead energy storage sponsor of the conference and will produce two special workshops on solar-storage technology as a supplement to the conference.  The workshops will be held in the morning and afternoon, respectively, of Wednesday,  July 13.

Three years ago, NAATBatt decided to get involved with Intersolar, the most widely attended solar energy conference in North America, because NAATBatt perceived that the […]

NAATBatt members visit a surprisingly active energy storage community in the pacific northwest

This week NAATBatt International held its most recent NAATBatt Members Site Visit meeting in Seattle, hosted by members 1Energy Systems and UniEnergy Technologies.  The meeting included visits to the Everett and Hardeson substations, where co-host Snohomish County PUD is deploying an energy storage resource to help it manage its distribution system.

The meeting started off with a presentation in the offices of 1Energy Systems on Wednesday afternoon.  1Energy Systems makes software control programs that permit utilities to integrate and control storage and other resources on the grid. 1Energy System CEO Dave Kaplan explained the premise on which 1Energy Systems was founded: […]

Naatbatt selected to facilitate DOE energy storage peer review meeting

NAATBatt International is pleased to announce that it has been selected this week to facilitate and manage the 2016 peer review meeting of the energy storage program of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.  The meeting will be held on September 25-28, 2016 at The Renaissance Hotel, DuPont Circle, in Washington, D.C.  More information about the meeting will be available shortly on the NAATBatt website.

Peer Reviews are independent assessments of the scientific merit of research by experts having knowledge of the research area equal to that of the performers of the work.  The purpose […]

The economic challenge of stationary energy storage

One of the benefits of being the Executive Director of NAATBatt is that it gives me frequent opportunity to speak and correspond with some of the brightest minds in the advanced battery industry and in advanced electrochemical energy storage technology.  Those conversations are rarely of earth-shaking importance.  But on more than rare occasion they reveal to me certain insights about our industry that make it a little easier to understand and clarify the path forward.

I had one of those insightful strings of correspondence earlier this week with Bill Bushong, Director of Contract Research at Spectrum Brands, Inc.  Spectrum Brands owns […]

New storage bill garners naatbatt’s input

Earlier this month, the office of Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17) reached out to NAATBatt International and asked for comments from its members on a bill that Congressman Honda hopes to introduce in Congress providing new support for stationary energy storage.  NAATBatt is pleased by Congressman Honda’s interest in stationary energy storage and delighted that Congressman Honda, whose district includes Silicon Valley, has solicited the views of NAATBatt and its member firms on this important subject.

The bill that Congressman Honda proposes is similar to the STORAGE Act legislation proposed by Senator Ron Wyden (OR) in earlier sessions of Congress.  Congressman Honda’s […]

The valley of death investment gap

This week a committee of NAATBatt International members, acting at the request of Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), reviewed a bill that Congressman Honda intends to introduce in Congress.  The bill proposes new investment tax credits for certain residential and commercial energy storage systems.  Next week in this newsletter, I will talk a little more about the bill and NAATBatt’s reaction to it.  But this week I want to focus on a more fundamental issue:  why government needs to support at all private, for-profit companies that are launching new technology products in the market.

Justifying government financial support for basic research and […]

NAATBatt announces next members site visit meeting


NAATBatt International is pleased to announce that the next in its series of Members Site Visit Meetings will be held in Seattle, WA on May 4-5, 2016.  The meeting will be co-hosted by 1Energy Systems and UniEnergy Technologies in cooperation with Snohomish County PUD.  To see the details of the event, click here to go to the event information page.

Member Site Visit Meetings are a regular feature of NAATBatt activities and a major benefit of NAATBatt membership. At a Member Site Visit Meeting, the hosting NAATBatt member opens its facility for tour by visiting NAATBatt members and gives a briefing […]

Naatbatt sets workshop programs for intersolar/ees north america

As previously reported in this newsletter, NAATBatt International recently renewed its relationship with Solar Promotions GmbH, organizer of the worldwide Intersolar and ees conferences focused primarily on the solar industry.  The Intersolar North America program, with which NAATBatt has cooperated for the past three years, is the most attended solar industry conference in North America.  It is held in July in the Moscone Center, where it and its co-located Semicon conference basically seem to take over downtown San Francisco each year.  From NAATBatt’s perspective, Intersolar North America offers the storage community an unrivaled opportunity to educate solar developers and integrators […]

Autonomous vehicles will accelerate adoption of electric drive

The test of any good conference is whether you learn two new things from it and remember them a week later. For me, NAATBatt 2016 passed that test.  As is usually the case, what I learn and remember about a conference is not so much an individual presentation or eye-opening chart, but an offhand comment by a speaker that suddenly makes a lightbulb go on in my head.

That happened twice for me (the requisite number for a good conference) at NAATBatt 2016.  The first of those lightbulbs (I will discuss the second in a future column) came during the panel […]

NAATBatt 2016 concludes in indian wells

NAATBatt 2016 concluded on Thursday of this week in Indian Wells.  NAATBatt 2016 was the sixth annual meeting of NAATBatt International and was our best conference yet.

Total registrations this year were up by about 10% over 2015, this despite an unfortunate, direct conflict with two other major industry shows, the ARPA-E Summit and Batteries Japan.  35 NAATBatt member companies delivered Member Update Presentations at the meeting and 19 companies gave flash presentations at the Energy Storage Innovation Summit (which is part of the annual meeting) about 20 different jury-selected emerging technologies.

The speakers and panels that made up the substantive portion […]

NAATBatt 2016 starts next week

The NAATBatt 2016 Annual Meeting & Conference starts next week in Indian Wells, California outside Palm Springs.  I always feel a bit nervous about NAATBatt conferences.  NAATBatt is really not a conference company.  When I look at what the professional conference organizers who run meetings such as The Battery Show, the ESA conferences, and Intersolar-ees are able to put together, I suffer from serious feelings of inadequacy concerning our small and relatively informal events.

But my feelings of inadequacy usually pass as I remind myself about what NAATBatt is and what we are trying to do at our meetings that is […]

NAATBATT kicks off electric bus safety initiative

NAATBatt kicked off its electric bus safety initiative last Wednesday with the first telephonic meeting of the NAATBatt Electric Bus Safety Committee.  I would like to extend special thanks to committee co-chairs John Warner and Dave Roberts and to Ben Wrightwood for their organization of the call and for their exceptional, if somewhat frightening, description of the problem that NAATBatt and its members need to address.

John Warner started by describing the size of the bus market in the United States and the nature of the mass transit bus fleet.  In 2013 there were 71,699 transit buses of all types in […]

Member Update Presentations at naatbatt 2016 will provide the best source of intelligence about the advanced battery industry and markets


NAATBatt 2016 starts in two weeks, kicking off with the Advanced Battery Golf & Tennis tournament on February 29, followed by three days of substantive programming.  Included in the programming is the Energy Storage Innovation Summit, featuring 20 jury-selected emerging energy storage technologies with the potential to change the marketplace and the presentation of the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Awards for major accomplishments in the technology, business and policy of energy storage.

The principal feature of the NAATBatt Annual Meeting & Conference that distinguishes it from the dozens of trade shows targeting the battery and energy storage industries is that the NAATBatt […]

Naatbatt kicks off electric bus safety initiative

Earlier this week President Obama announced a plan to invest $300 billion over the next 10 years in new transportation initiatives designed to reduce carbon emissions and traffic congestion.  The plan will be funded by a $10 a barrel tax on oil.  Although the President’s plan envisions investments in technologies and infrastructure well beyond electrification, it is clear that the Administration seeks a major investment in mass transit systems that will be powered in part or in whole by electricity rather than by diesel fuel.

But there is more to electrifying mass transit than just investing in electric buses.  Those buses […]

2016 lifetime achievement awards to honor two industry pioneers

I am pleased and honored to announce that the winners of the 2016 NAATBatt Lifetime Achievement Award are Dr. Imre Gyuk of the U.S. Department of Energy and Prof. Detchko Pavlov of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Electrochemistry and Energy Systems.

Each year, the Board of Directors of NAATBatt International recognizes individuals whose lifetime work and accomplishments have done the most to advance the technology and business of electrochemical energy storage.  These accomplishments are no small matter.  Within the past 30 years, there has been a revolution (in fact, several revolutions) in the sleepy, 2,000 year old […]

NAATBATT 2016 to celebrate past and present innovation in advanced energy storage technology

The organizational purpose of NAATBatt International is to support the commercialization of energy storage systems that will power the transformative technologies of the 21st Century. So we take very seriously the role of the NAATBatt annual meeting in helping to highlight and educate our members about new technologies related to energy storage that are likely to impact the market in the near future.

Several years ago, we incorporated into the annual meeting a program called the Energy Storage Innovation Summit. In the Summit, we ask 20 companies working on new but market ready energy storage-related technologies to make a “flash” presentation […]

Electric & hybrid marine world expo highlights the growing role of batteries in maritime applications

This past week I attended the Electric Hybrid & Marine World Expo in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as part of NAATBatt’s Sponsored Conference Program.  The concept behind that Sponsored Conference Program is that NAATBatt will attend trade shows that may be of general interest, but not necessarily high priority, to our members.  NAATBatt scouts out those shows and distributes marketing literature at the shows for members that do not attend.  The Sponsored Conference Program provides a great benefit for NAATBatt members and is highly valued by those who take advantage of it.  Show producers like it too, because a good review […]

General Motors Launches EV 2.0

Last week in this column I suggested that 2016 is going to be an exciting year for energy storage technology.  My prediction was vindicated more quickly than I expected.

Earlier this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, General Motors unveiled the production version of the Chevrolet Bolt, a 200-mile-range all-electric car with a $30,000 price tag after federal incentives.  Designed as an electric vehicle from the wheels up, the Bolt offers the same amount of passenger space as the Tesla Model S.  Gone is the age of cramped, awkward-looking EV’s.

The Bolt includes a 10-inch color touchscreen, the ability […]

2016 will be a happy new year

This will be the first of approximately 52 commentaries I will write this year about the business of electrochemical energy storage technology.  2015 was a good year for many businesses that commercialize that technology, despite substantial headwinds that could have led to a much different result.  Sales of electrified vehicles continued to advance modestly year over year despite some of the lowest petroleum prices in recent years.  Stationary energy storage on the grid and behind-the-meter cautiously emerged from the demonstration project stage to that of legitimate if small scale commercialization, despite low natural gas prices and slowing electricity demand in […]

The curious market for residential storage

The market for residential energy storage has always been a bit curious.  Despite substantial enthusiasm for residential storage technology, generated in large part by Tesla Motors’ launch early this year of its Powerwall product, few experts claim to be able to get the economics of such systems to pencil out anywhere in the North American market.  Many analysts are scratching their heads trying to figure out what Tesla is up to.  In Germany, where a genuine market for residential storage seemed to be taking shape, the future of that market was questionable in light of the pending expiration of the […]

Winter ends early

Earlier today, in an action that defied the expectations of many, Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill following the passage yesterday of a $622 billion tax bill.  Both pieces of legislation included major provisions supporting the development of energy technology, both renewable and traditional.  After of years watching the U.S. Congress wallow in dysfunction, today’s action, however much one might quibble with the details, comes as extraordinarily good news.  The long, cold Washington winter has ended.  And maybe, just maybe, the United States is getting its mojo back.


What is noteworthy about Congress’ action today is the centrality of energy […]

NAATBatt 2016 Program will discuss battery manufacturing innovations and their impact on costs 

On this the last day of Early Bird registration for the NAATBatt 2016 Annual Meeting & Conference, I want to highlight some of the remarkable aspects of that upcoming program.  We tout the NAATBatt annual meetings as thought leadership programs, and that is a boast we try hard to live up to.  NAATBatt uses its annual meeting to highlight key issues facing the advanced battery industry and to help those charged with responsibility for shaping their company’s business strategy better chart the path ahead.  The NAATBatt 2016 Annual Meeting will be no exception.

One of the biggest issues in the industry […]

NHTSA workshop highlights concerns about stranded energy

This past week I attended a workshop organized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and SAE International focusing on the issue of stranded energy in electric vehicles.  The workshop was organized by Phil Gorney of NHTSA and Bob Galyen of SAE International and took place at Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago.

Stranded energy is difficult to define precisely (in fact workshop participants spent about 90 minutes trying to agree on a definition).  But the general, imprecise meaning of the term is the electrical energy that remains in a high voltage vehicle battery after the vehicle is no longer operative.  […]

Giving thanks for cheap oil and xEV resilience

The week of Thanksgiving in the United States is traditional a time to recount the things for which we should give thanks.  From the standpoint of the world economy certainly close to the top of the thanks list this year should be the price of crude oil, which closed last Wednesday at $43.04 per barrel, down from a high of $108 as recently as mid-2014.

The lower cost of fuel has been a boon for consumers and for most manufacturers.  It has been not so favorable for oil producers and related industries.  One of the other industries that would be expected […]

The internet of things offers new opportunities for battery makers

For much of its history, NAATBatt International has focused on large format batteries and supercapacitors designed to service applications in the automotive, stationary energy storage and industrial battery sectors.  That is where the growth in the battery industry was expected to be and where most public discussion of electrochemical energy storage technology has been centered.

But my two days this week at the IDTechEx conference in Santa Clara brought home to me the fact that companies in the battery industry that are only looking at large format applications are missing a large and potentially very important piece of the battery industry […]

Visit to BIC and NSA Crane Highlights Valuable New Resource for Battery Systems Manufacturers

The latest NAATBatt Members Site Visit meeting took place this week at the Battery Innovation Center (BIC) and NSA Crane Naval base in southern Indiana.  The meeting was a great success and illustrates one of the many ways that NAATBatt members get outstanding value from their membership.

NAATBatt members were shuttled by bus from their hotel in Indianapolis to the BIC and Crane facilities in southern Indiana.  At BIC, attendees were able to see the wide range of BIC’s new testing capabilities, from the ability to analyze the behavior and characteristics of new electrode materials to the testing of communications software […]

Utilization rate is the key metric for tesla and other battery manufacturers

Earlier this week I delivered a talk at the EMCMR-3 conference in Marrakech about what a country such as Morocco could do in order to become a regional center for advanced battery manufacturing.  My thesis was that Morocco has a relationship to the EU auto market that is in many ways similar to the relationship of Mexico to the U.S. auto market.  A recent NREL study suggests that a country such as Mexico, and by analogy, Morocco, may be well-positioned to be the low cost manufacturer of lithium-ion cells in its adjacent major auto market.

The NREL study, which was presented […]

New battery energy storage caucus challenges the industry to decide what it wants to do

Last Tuesday, U.S. Representatives Chris Collins (R-NY), and Mark Takano (D-CA) announced the launch of the Battery Energy Storage Caucus in the U.S. Congress.  The mission of the caucus is to advance the understanding of how energy storage systems are enabling American businesses and homeowners to better access reliable, affordable, and sustainable electric power.  Reps. Collins and Takano were joined in the announcement by representatives of the Energy Storage Association (ESA), AES Energy Storage and Johnson Controls.

NAATBatt International welcomes the launch of the new caucus and extends its thanks to all involved in the effort to form it.  Getting information […]

Dyson-Sakti3 deal provides a window on the emerging battery technology world

News this week in the advanced battery industry has centered on Dyson Ltd.’s purchase of Sakti3 for $90 million.  Sakti3, led by University of Michigan professor Ann Marie Sastry, is developing solid-state battery technology.  Sakti3 has been a company that has long generated great hope and occasionally great skepticism.  Originally backed by Khosla Ventures, the company also received investments from General Motors and Dyson.  But some in the industry have accused Sakti3 of refusing to provide solid independent data to back up its widely publicized performance claims.

The Dyson-Sakti3 deal provides three insights into the advanced battery industry.  The first is […]

NaatBatt announces the formation of the GO Foundation in Montreal

This past week I had the pleasure of attending the Graphene Canada conference in Montreal where NAATBatt International, in conjunction with NAATBatt member, Grafoid, and Phantoms Foundation of Madrid, Spain, announced the formation of the GO Foundation.  The GO Foundation (GO stands for Graphene Organization) is a Canadian not-for-profit association charged with accelerating the commercialization of graphene technology.  The GO Foundation will act as a resource for information about graphene and its applications.  The GO Foundation will also make investments in emerging companies developing new graphene applications.  The Canadian government has already made a grant of about $350,000 to the […]

Registration is now open for the 2016 Annual Meeting

The NAATBatt Annual Meeting is the highlight of the year at NAATBatt, accounting probably for a majority of our budget and staff time each year, and certainly for a majority of the Executive Director’s worries and headaches.  With the meeting now just four months away, planning activity is starting in earnest.  The best evidence of that planning is the new web site for the meeting and registration page, which just went live this week.  I would encourage you to check it out by clicking here and to register for the meeting soon.

The NAATBatt 2016 Annual Meeting & Conference will be […]

BIC visit shaping up to be a great program

On November 12, 2015, NAATBatt International will hold its next Members Site Visit meeting at Battery Innovation Center (BIC) in Newberry, Indiana.  A few people asked me when I initially told them about the meeting whether I really expected anyone to travel to a remote area of Southern Indiana to see a battery testing laboratory.  Well, having opened registration for the program only last week, and having received registration for almost half the capacity of the meeting, with six weeks to go, any skeptics have been well silenced.

Of course, what the NAATBatt members who have signed up for the meeting […]

A busy week at NAATBatt

Things at NAATBatt International are always pretty busy.  But this past week has seen series of developments within the organization, each of which could warrant its own Executive Director’s notes column.  Consistent with the way this week has gone, I will try to squeeze them all in here.

New Director of Meetings

I am pleased to welcome this week NAATBatt’s new Director of Meetings:  Paula Szyper.  Paula is a nearly 20-year veteran of the meetings and convention industry.  Prior to joining us earlier this week, Paula organized meetings and conventions for the American Hospital Association and the Young President’s Organization.  She is […]

Rethinking ESS certification: Is there a better way?

This past week, I spoke at The Battery Show in Novi, Michigan on the subject of electricity stationary storage (ESS) safety.  One of the panels on which I participated discussed the development of testing and certification procedures for ESS systems.  My fellow panelists were Serena Lee of ConEdison, Ibrahim Jilani of UL LLC and Dan Gorham of the National Fire Protection Association.  The consensus of the panel was that significant additional testing of ESS systems needs to be done in order better to protect the general public and first responders from the various hazards that ESS systems inherently pose.

But who […]

New grounds for optimism about electric vehicle sales


Earlier today, the price of crude oil on the NYMEX closed below $45 per barrel, about half of its price one year ago.  The Wall Street Journal reports that unidentified sources within OPEC predict that the price of oil will remain in the $40 to $50 price range at least through the end of 2015.  And Goldman Sachs reports that the price could fall as low as $20 per barrel within the next year.

Shouldn’t this be a disaster for vehicle electrification, which has always been viewed primarily as a hedge against high gasoline prices?  Well, apparently not.

A funny thing happened […]

New PatentEdge™ report shows push by ford on battery modules

NAATBatt International members will find this week on the NAATBatt website a new ABC PatentEdgeTM report detailing trends in patent applications and patent issuances in advanced battery and capacitor technology.  The current report, specifying activity in the second quarter of 2015, provides a summary of exactly who has been applying for patents in precisely what aspects of advanced battery and ultracapacitor technology.  This information is a useful tool for determining where the major players in the advanced battery market are seeing the most promising long-term opportunities and what kinds of new products they are likely to launch.

The ABC PatentEdgeTM report, […]

The DOE’s loan program office needs to help manufacturers and consumers, not large financial institutions

On March 6 of this year I wrote in this column about the need for the Department of Energy’s Loan Program Office (LPO) to assist distributed energy projects, including distributed energy storage projects, rather than dedicate all its financial resources to energy megaprojects.  NAATBatt International proposed that the LPO do this by guarantying the performance warranties of manufacturers rather than the loans of large financial institutions.  I pointed out that the LPO has the statutory authority under Energy Policy Act of 2005 to do this.  A formal proposal made by NAATBatt to the LPO in April received no response.

Earlier this […]

Annual meeting program beginning to take shape

This week the planning committee for the NAATBatt 2016 Annual Meeting met and began the process of planning the meeting program. Based on the committee’s initial discussion, the program is going to be outstanding.

Among the topics that the meeting will cover is improvements in the manufacturing of lithium-ion battery cells, with particular focus on changing coating and mixing technologies. Several innovations are coming onto the market, which promise dramatically to reduce the cost of lithium-ion battery manufacturing.

Another topic that will be covered is developments in power conversion and charging. Improving the efficiency of current conversion is critical to improving the […]

Capital markets may be becoming more advanced battery friendly

This week Stem announced that it raised an additional $45 million in venture capital with $33 million apparently provided by the German power company, RWE Group.  Stem’s ability to raise $45 million is a credit to the company, its management team and its business model.  But it is possible that there is more to this story that could be of interest to everyone working in firms that are developing advanced battery technology.

Despite some recent declines, public securities markets remain overvalued relative to their historic averages.  As of August 7, The Wall Street Journal reports that the P/E average of the […]

The mystery of the missing battery market

Last month I had the pleasure of speaking to a conference sponsored by NAATBatt member GCube Insurance Services about the growth for electricity storage on the grid.  As part of my presentation, I displayed a slide, originally authored by Navigant Consulting, which is my favorite slide about the advanced battery industry.

The slide describes the projected world market for advanced batteries by application in 2014-2023.  The slide shows the size of the market for advanced automotive batteries quickly gaining on the size of the consumer market and overtaking it sometime in the 2016-2017 timeframe.  The slide also indicates that the market […]

XALT Energy puts on a great show

This week saw the most recent Members Site Visit meeting at XALT Energy in Midland, Michigan. More than 50 NAATBatt International members had the opportunity to tour one of the few lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing facilities in the United States. The XALT facility was amazing. It is a state-of-the-art plant that is so clean and so well organized it seems possible to eat off of the floors. On the day of the visit, the plant was busy making cells including two different anodes. The flexibility and efficiency of XALT’s manufacturing process impressed everyone who participated in the tour.

But the most […]

Mckinsey blog highlights the speed of change in energy technology

Earlier this week McKinsey & Company, one of the world’s foremost consulting firms, posted an interesting blog reviewing a number of predictions it made about disruptive energy technologies in 2007 and making a few more predictions.

According to McKinsey, it mostly got the technology trends in energy right in 2007, but failed to anticipate how quickly some of those trends were going to happen.  In solar, McKinsey predicted falling PV solar panel costs but overestimated by 66% what prices would actually be in 2014.  In wind, McKinsey similarly foresaw rapid growth but underestimated total 2014 deployments by 20%.  In advanced batteries, [...]

Optimistic storage market projections depend on the price of natural gas

Intersolar North America, including ees™, its new dedicated program on energy storage, concluded this week at Moscone Center West in San Francisco. NAATBatt, as part of its growing partnership with the Intersolar family of international renewable energy conferences, participated heavily in the ees program and produced two workshops, one on storage safety, one on solar-storage policy, as part of the larger Intersolar program.

Before relating my takeaways from the program overall, I would first like to thank all the NAATBatt members, who participated in the ees program, the NAATBatt workshops, and the NAATBatt exhibit booth. My sense is that […]

NAATBATT-Intersolar Workshop will focus on battery safety

I hope that you can join us next Tuesday morning in San Francisco for the NAATBatt-Intersolar workshop on inside-the-meter battery safety.  The workshop is designed to educate developers and installers of solar systems about the possible safety risks associated with adding a storage component to PV systems and how regulators and other installers are mitigating those risks.   The workshop will also provide accurate information about advanced battery safety that developers and installers can share with their customers.  Anyone in the solar industry who is not already expert in storage technology should plan to attend this workshop.

Advanced battery safety is a […]

NAATBATT-Intersolar Workshop aims to bring coherence to solar-storage policy

On Tuesday, July 14, NAATBatt International will produce two workshops on important topics in energy storage at the Intersolar North America trade show in San Francisco. Intersolar North America is the most attended trade show in North America catering to the solar industry. NAATBatt’s workshops give solar developers and integrators, who may have only a passing familiarity with storage technology and who are unlikely to attend stand-alone storage conferences, an opportunity to get a more detailed understanding of storage technology and some of the issues surrounding it.

One of the issues of shared concern to both solar and storage developers is […]

NAATBatt Launches New Website

I am delighted to announce that earlier today NAATBatt International launched its new website. A special thanks to Jonathan Levine and his colleagues at Workbench Digital for their outstanding efforts in helping with this major facelift of NAATBatt’s online presence.

The new website is far more than a facelift, however. The new site includes the logos of all of our members with links to their principal web sites. Pictures and short bios of all of NAATBatt officers and directors are included. The NAATBatt membership application has been put into electronic form with the various levels of membership and their respective privileges […]

Laudato Si: The Moral Case for Energy Efficiency

Yesterday Pope Francis issued a sweeping new encyclical on the environment entitled “Laudato Si”.  The encyclical runs 184-pages and covers a range of issues.  Most noteworthy is its endorsement of the proposition that climate change is real and caused primarily by human activity.  The encyclical notes that the worst impact of climate change will probably be felt by the poorest citizens of the poorest countries, who will be least able to adapt to the rising seas and devastating droughts that are likely to occur without swift remedial action.

Laudato Si is a powerful call to address climate change as a moral […]

Residential Energy Storage Could Play a Key Role in Shaping National Energy Policy

This past week I attended the Intersolar Europe conference in Munich, Germany.  The exhibit hall at the conference included a large space devoted to energy storage and battery technology.  The number of exhibitors and quality of the exhibits surpassed anything I have seen at a storage programs in the United States.

The most interesting aspect of the storage exhibits to me was the large number of companies selling residential energy storage products.  Tesla was there exhibiting the Powerwall, which was striking as much for the beauty of its design as for its technical capabilities.  The new residential storage solution from Mercedes […]

ABC PatentEdge™ Report Delivers Important Information to NAATBatt Members

Two years ago a group of NAATBatt member companies undertook an interesting project. Working with IP Checkups, a Berkeley, California-based consulting firm that specializes in patent-based market intelligence, the NAATBatt members categorized advanced battery technology and markets into a number of segments corresponding to general areas of relevance to industry.

Using the categories provided by NAATBatt, IP Checkups analyze trends in patent grants and applications within each of those categories.  This analysis provides NAATBatt members with actionable, patent-based intelligence about what was really going on in the industry and where the largest players in it were really making their bets.  The […]

NAATBatt Intersolar Workshop to Examine Safety and Policy Questions About Solar-Storage Technology

This coming July, NAATBatt International will team up again with Intersolar North America to produce two workshops on issues important to the storage industry:  inside-the-meter battery safety and policy drivers for the solar-storage market.  Intersolar North America, which this year will include a special ees track on storage, will run from July 13-16, 2015.  The NAATBatt International workshops will be held on Tuesday, July 14 at the Mascone Center in downtown San Francisco.

Intersolar North America has long been of great interest to NAATBatt.  Intersolar North America is the most attended solar energy conference in North America with more than 27,000 […]

XALT Energy to Host Next Members Site Visit Meeting

NAATBatt International is pleased to announce that XALT Energy will host the next in our series of Members’ Site Visit Meetings at its headquarters in Midland, Michigan on Thursday, July 30, 2015.  Click here for more details about the meeting.

XALT Energy emerged from the former Dow Kokam and is today one of the leading manufacturers of large format lithium-ion batteries in the United States.  Dow Kokam was the recipient of one of the ARRA battery manufacturing grants in 2009.  Its fully-automated manufacturing facility was one of the first of its type in North America: designed and built from the ground […]

NAATBatt 2016 Annual Meeting Details Announced

I am pleased to announce that the 2016 NAATBatt Annual Meeting & Conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells in Indian Wells, CA on February 29-March 3, 2016.  The Hyatt Regency is a four star resort in one of the most attractive communities in the Palm Springs, CA area.  You will not want to miss this program.

The 2016 Annual Meeting will build on the great success of the 2015 Annual Meeting recently concluded in Phoenix, Arizona. Like the 2015 Meeting, the 2016 Meeting will include a summit on emerging battery technologies, giving industry participants a first look […]

New NAATBatt Website Will Feature Member Conference Presentations

Over the next months, NAATBatt will be rolling out a new and improved website.  We intend this website to be a valuable resource for our members and for the general public looking for information about advanced battery and ultracapacitor technology and related products.

One of the features we will be introducing on the web site is the republication of presentations made by our members at industry conferences around the world.  This new feature serves two purposes:

Conference presentations by our members are an excellent source of information for the general public (and for the industry) about developments in advanced battery technology and […]

Deepwater Horizon and the Frontiers of Advanced Battery Technology

Five years ago the BP Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico suffered a major blow out. Eleven workers died in the accident and 11 others were injured. Oil and gas gushed out for months from the broken pipe at the floor of the sea. Over 600 miles of the coastline was affected.  Fishery and tourism, two major industries of the region, suffered enormous losses.  The impact on the environment was catastrophic.

The actual quantity of the spill was difficult to ascertain initially, and estimates ranged from 10,000 to 100,000 barrels per day. After the fact, it was determined […]

Can Home Energy Storage be “Cool”?

There were more rumblings this week from Tesla Motors about a pending announcement of a launch of a home energy storage product.  The rumblings continue to generate counter-rumblings from skeptics, who point out, perhaps not without some justification, that even in light of the falling cost of lithium-ion batteries (recently pegged at about 14 percent per year since 2007 by Nature Climate Change), it still does not make economic sense for homeowners to put a battery in their home.

But are the skeptics really looking at the right metric?  The answer to that question turns on what exactly the homeowner wants […]

NAATBatt to Pursue Pre-Competitive Research

NAATBatt International President Davion Hill and I recently had a long talk about what we can do to make NAATBatt more relevant and more valuable to its members.  One of the ideas we discussed was the possibility of having NAATBatt organize and administer a pre-competitive research fund for the benefit of its members.  The concept is that interested members would make a capital contribution to the fund in exchange for a seat on its steering committee.  NAATBatt would seek to match the member contributions with federal and state grant moneys.  Davion and I are very confident that a neutral, industry-led […]

Net Metering vs. Self-Generation for Solar PV

Earlier this week, NAATBatt member Tucson Electric Power (TEP) announced a change in its net metering program, whereby TEP will compensate new solar PV customers for net metered electricity at the same rate that TEP pays for power from large solar arrays, rather than at the higher retail electricity rate. It is expected that the typical customer with rooftop solar will see their bills increase by about $22 per month as a consequence of this change.

The move by TEP to reduce the benefits of net metering to customers with rooftop solar underscores a longstanding tension between grid operators and solar […]

New Executive Order May Open An Important Market for Energy Storage

On March 19, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order aimed at maintaining Federal leadership in sustainability and greenhouse gas emission reductions. The new Executive Order creates significant new purchasing requirements for Federal agencies. These new requirements are something that NAATBatt has long advocated.

While other organizations have devoted significant resources to advocating legislative initiatives in support of energy storage and electric transportation, NAATBatt has long maintained that the most important thing the federal government can do to promote new, market-ready energy storage technologies is simply to use its own spending power to create a market for them. The ability of […]

The Race for the Super-Battery

This past week I attended a presentation and book signing by Steve Levine, who was promoting his new book, The Powerhouse: Inside the Invention of a Battery to Save the World.  Steve Levine was joined in the presentation by Jeff Chamberlain, Deputy Director of Development & Demonstration for the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR).

The Powerhouse tells the story of a race to develop a super-battery that will “undermine Russia’s Vladimir Putin, endanger Saudi Arabia’s ruling family, threaten OPEC and transform China…”.  Levine developed his material while “embedded” for two years in the JCESR program at Argonne National Laboratory among […]

Lithium-Ion Safety Regulations Should Focus on System Safety, Not Bans

Earlier this month, United Airlines became the second major airline to announce that it will no longer carry bulk shipments of lithium-ion batteries. Delta Airlines stopped bulk shipments of lithium-ion batteries in February. The announcements followed fatal fires on two Boeing 747 cargo planes that may have been caused by lithium-ion batteries and a series of earlier incidents in which batteries are suspected as possible contributing factors.

Unease over lithium-ion batteries was further fueled by the recent release of the National Transportation Safety Board’s report on the January 7, 2013, thermal event aboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Boston and two […]

Section 1703 Guarantees Should Focus on Battery Performance Warranty Obligations

Last July, NAATBatt International hosted a webinar on the U.S. Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program, authorized under Section 1703 of Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Under the program, the DOE can make up to $4 billion of loan guarantees available to developers of projects that, among other things, use new technology to produce or facilitate the production of renewable energy. The impetus for the webinar was the DOE’s designation of “advanced grid integration and storage” as one of five areas of special focus of the loan guarantee program.

During the webinar, one of the concerns raised […]