Ioxus targets auto sector with new appointment

Ioxus ultracapacitors are being targeted at the automotive sector. Nissan is one of the manufacturers currently incorporating ultracapacitors into its vehicles.

Ioxus ultracapacitors are being targeted at the automotive sector. Nissan is one manufacturer currently incorporating ultracapacitors into its vehicles. Photo credit: Animam.

The ultracapacitor company Ioxus last week reinforced its automotive sector focus by naming ex-General Motors (GM) executive Don Runkle the chairman of the board.

Runkle’s experience includes having been GM’s top engineering executive as vice president of the company’s North American Engineering Center.

He was previously chief engineer of Chevrolet, chief engineer of powertrain and racing at the Buick Division, director of advanced vehicle engineering and vice president of GM’s advanced engineering staff.
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A new life for old batteries

Is the future of used electric car batteries in grid energy storage systems like the Second Life Batteries Alliance project from BMW, Bosch and Vattenfall in Germany?

Is the future of used electric car batteries in grid energy storage systems like the Second Life Batteries Alliance project from BMW, Bosch and Vattenfall in Germany? Photo credit: BMW AG, München, Deutschland

A tie-up between BMW, Bosch and Vattenfall in Germany could help speed up halting moves to develop low-cost energy storage reserves from old car batteries.The three companies last month launched the Second Life Batteries Alliance “to form a large-scale energy storage system in Hamburg,” according to Bosch.

BMW will be supplying more than 100 second-hand lithium-ion batteries from its ActiveE and i3 electric vehicles, while Vattenfall has agreed to operate the Hamburg storage system for 10 years as part of an existing ‘virtual power plant’.

Bosch, which has developed integrated storage systems for the communities of Braderup and Kelsterbach in Germany, will be in charge of integrating the batteries and managing the setup.
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Tesla Gigafactory: nothing but good news for energy storage

As Reno wins the jackpot to be the location of the Tesla Gigafactory, we look at what it means for Tesla, Nevada and the energy storage industry.

As Reno wins the jackpot to be the Tesla Gigafactory location, we look at what it means for Tesla, Nevada and the energy storage industry. Photo credit: Michael Ocampo

The waiting is finally over. And surprise, surprise, Nevada, the state that never missed an opportunity to bend over backwards for big business (an attitude Bugsy Siegel may have appreciated), has scooped Tesla’s Gigafactory for a mere USD$1.25bn in subsidies over the next two decades.

Okay, let’s park the cynicism over the vast sums corporations squeeze out of the tax-payer and look at the positives of what will be a real game-changer in energy storage, not just for electric vehicles and their drivers, as well as providing a bit of background.
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How to learn to love Tesla

Tesla, Elon Musk, SolarCity and other entrepreneurs  are providing bravado and vision to the energy storage industry.

Tesla, Elon Musk, SolarCity and other innovators are providing bravado and vision to the energy storage industry. Photo credit: NASA

Tesla: love it or hate it? It’s a tricky one. Here is a carmaker that churns out flash motors for the über-famous. The company head, Elon Musk, is sickeningly rich, sickeningly young and sickeningly brilliant. Shares are worth nearly three times Wal-Mart’s.What’s to like? Maybe there is something after all. Tesla might be flash, but it seems sincere, too. It has a vision not just for electric cars, but also for a sustainable, renewable future within which energy storage plays an important part.

Tesla provides a touch of bravado in a sector that badly needs heroes. While for us in the industry the value of energy storage is clear, it is important to remember that for the power sector in general our proposition is something of an afterthought.
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Energy storage news: 19.03.14

Vincent Bollore is investing $166m in the UK’s Source London electric car-sharing network, which will include 6,000 electric vehicle charging stations.

Vincent Bollore is investing $166m in the UK’s Source London electric car-sharing network, which will include 6,000 electric vehicle charging stations. Photo credit: Transport for London

Energy storage news from our Twitter feed over the last week.

  • The Rocky Mountain Institute, which recently reported that solar energy storage systems were reaching economic parity with the grid, explains why this doesn’t automatically mean customers will defect and why defection may not be the best option.

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Norway’s lessons for urban electric vehicles

What lessons can be learnt from the success of electric vehicles in Norway? Photo credit: Nissan Leaf in a bus lane

What lessons can be learnt from the success of electric vehicles in Norway? Photo credit: Nissan Leaf in a bus lane, Norsk Elbilforening

At first sight, Norway doesn’t seem like a natural stamping ground for electric vehicles. A big oil producer, it has a low population density, with urban areas separated by mountainous terrain. Not a place where you’d want to worry about running low on battery juice, something that will happen much more quickly in the harsh Nordic winters when turning up an electric car’s heating can dramatically reduce its range.

But despite the obstacles, huge oil wealth, an egalitarian, civic-minded tradition and a culturally ingrained stubbornness have come together to make Norway the world’s number one country per capita for monthly electric vehicle sales and overall ownership.

So how did Norway get to this point? Perhaps more interestingly, what does a country where 10% of all vehicle sales are electric actually look like? And how can the rest of the world avoid the problems that are now threatening the Norse transport revolution and even casting doubt on the very idea that greater electric vehicle use is good for cities and the people who live there?
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Why you might want to give up this year’s profit

A handful of manufacturers may bet on market share this year and lower battery prices –or electric vehicle manufacturers could force price reductions.

Will battery companies bet on market share and lower battery prices, or could electric vehicle makers force reductions? We ask ABB. Photo credit: Tesla battery, Wesley Fryer

A handful of battery makers could force an industry showdown this year by taking a long-term bet on market dominance and lowering prices. And if they do not, there is a good chance automakers may force price reductions anyway. Industry watchers believe the battery market is reaching a tipping point similar to that seen a few years ago in the photovoltaic (PV) solar sector, where one or two players could trigger a wave of consolidation by launching cut-price products.

The issue is which manufacturers will be willing to sacrifice their short-term profits in exchange for market share, believes Hans Streng, senior vice president and general manager of the electric vehicle charging infrastructure product group at ABB. “Right now the prices set the volumes in the battery market, not the other way around,” he says.

“It’s a strategic choice for battery manufacturers whether they want to open up the market for themselves or wait for change to happen for them.”
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Vehicle-to-grid adds mileage to energy storage

Nissan Leaf electric vehicles in a vehicle-to-grid energy storage trial.

Nissan Leaf electric vehicles in a vehicle-to-grid energy storage trial. Photo credit: Nissan Motor Co.

Why do we write about electric vehicles in Energy Storage Report? The obvious answer is plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and hybrids need batteries, and batteries are a hugely important part of the energy storage pantheon.

Currently dominated by lithium-ion (Li-ion) technology, the same type of rechargeable battery that powers the laptop I’m writing this on, they are the Achilles heel of the PEV industry, adding at least USD$3,000 to the price of a vehicle. Li-ion vehicle batteries usually take hours to charge, allowing average vehicles to travel just 200 miles between top-ups.
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