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 […]