Battery Power will Help Build the World's Future

Battery technology is lagging behind battery applications, but there are important changes taking place.

Apr 8, 2014 at 11:10AM

One of the biggest problems with solar power is that it only works when the sun shines. Once the sun has gone done, you're out of juice. That's why AES's (NYSE:AES) Energy Storage division built AES Advancion, "a complete battery-based grid resource." It's just one example of battery technology being used to support today's advancing clean energy technology. Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK), General Electric (NYSE:GE), and Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) are three more companies working hard in the space.

A sunny and windy complement
AES Advancion is basically a giant battery hooked up to the grid. It stores power from periods where there is more electricity than needed for use when there's less power being generated. For example, at night from a solar array. The new offering is specifically made to be paired with solar and wind power.

(Source: Onderwijsgek, via Wikimedia Commons)

It's no surprise that AES is offering Advancion. The company has over 200 megawatts of storage resources already being used, which makes it something of an expert in the space. More noteworthy, however, is that AES Advancion reduces the need for utilities to use older, dirtier base-load generation like coal and natural gas plants. It's definitely a way for green utilities to get even greener.

Another example is Duke Energy, which is using home grown technology to smooth out "...the naturally variable output..." from the utility's 153-MW Notrees Wind Power Project. Commenting on the award-winning project, David Mohler, vice president of Emerging Technology at Duke, said, "It shows that energy storage, as part of the ecosystem for delivering electricity, has an exciting future."

Duke's Notrees Battery Storage Project certainly does show that. Both Duke and AES are worth watching in the utility-scale battery power space.

Underground power
Then there's General Electric. This industrial giant recently introduced the Durathon battery. According to the company, "The battery is 25 percent smaller and 50 percent lighter than traditional batteries..." Not only that, but it provides, " least 40 percent more operating range." Smaller and more powerful is a potent combination, especially since the Durathon has been powering an underground mining scoop at Coal River Energy.

Prescott Logan, general manager of GE Energy Storage, stated that the Durathon allows GE Mining to, "...deliver higher efficiency and productivity to mining customers worldwide while lowering fuel use, emissions and life-cycle cost." And the battery, "contains no lead acid materials. This eliminates the release of gases when charging, removes explosive fuel sources underground and reduces mineworker exposure to diesel particulate matter..."

The Durathon is a technology win/win all around for the mining industry. And it helps explain why Komatsu (NASDAQOTH:KMTUF) recently inked a 50/50 joint venture with GE to build underground mining equipment.

Above ground speed
And don't forget Tesla, which sees so much promise in battery technology that it recently announced plans to build a giant $5 billion battery plant with more production capacity than there were batteries produced in 2013. Tesla will invest about $2 billion, with project partners making up the balance.


(Source: Steve Jurvetson, via Wikimedia Commons)

Tesla's goal is to reduce the cost of batteries by more than 30% by producing mass quantities in one location. That, in turn, would bring down the cost of electric vehicles like the ones Tesla sells, thus making them more desirable to customers. The factory isn't slated to open until 2020, so Tesla's aggressive plans could still fall apart or be displaced by better technology, but clearly this all-electric auto maker is thinking ahead in the battery space.

No perfect solution, yet
There's no perfect solution with regard to batteries just yet. But companies across various industries are working hard to improve this laggard technology. AES, Duke, GE, and Tesla are all names to watch. And while it may take some time, human ingenuity will eventually bring energy storage technology into line with the way we use power today. The companies that figure it out will be inline to make investors a lot of money.

Here's another tech revolution powered by batteries...
If you thought the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad were amazing, just wait until you see this. One hundred of Apple's top engineers are busy building one in a secret lab. And an ABI Research report predicts 485 million of them could be sold over the next decade. But you can invest in it right now... for just a fraction of the price of AAPL stock. Click here to get the full story in this eye-opening new report.

Reuben Brewer has a position in AES. The Motley Fool recommends Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric Company and Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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