Flying battery powered planes, and cargo ships. For sure. Unlimited resource availability and zero environmental impact. Zero recycling or end of life analysis. Zero fossil fuel used for manufacturing them. What a techno hopium thing i have just read

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Battery costs have declined 99% since 1991? I didn't see that the last time I bought a new battery for my car. Or AA batteries. Oh, wait - this must apply only to one specific type of battery, right? Is this only for Lithium Ion batteries? But lithium ion batteries are still more expensive per kWh than lead batteries.

Demand is growing faster than the projections? But why? Could it be caused by political mandates that car makers sell, and drivers buy, electric vehicles? This adoption is boosted by generous subsidies for the few people who buy electric cars, but we can't really subsidize everyone. What happens to demand when the subsidies stop? Will voters be willing to pay more to buy electric vehicles, more to maintain them, with shorter life than conventional cars? Or will the political settlement fall apart?

Does the Rocky Mountain Institute do any serious analysis, or are they just the booster club for the hoped-for zero carbon revolution?

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In these applications Lithium-Ion wins big over lead-acid batteries. Li-ion is much better at handling repeated deep discharges, lasting far longer. Also more efficient - 95% round-trip efficiency vs about 85% for lead-acid. When you consider total lifetime cost, Li-ion wins. That's why no one puts a stack of lead-acid batteries in their home to charge from their solar panels - it doesn't make economic sense even if it seems cheaper up-front.

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You claim that Li-ion batteries last much longer. Do you have any backup for that claim? I've seen some posts that claim that, but without any obvious backup. For instance, https://www.relionbattery.com/resource-center/technology/lithium-vs-lead-acid#:~:text=Lithium%20batteries%20provide%20100%25%20of,capacity%20to%20prevent%20diminished%20life. But this site claims 100% efficiency for the batteries, so I'm skeptical that they can be trusted.

Contrariwise, there's this site: https://www.newark.com/pdfs/techarticles/tektronix/LIBMG.pdf, which quotes 300-500 cycles or 2-3 years, based on manufacturer's data. There's also here: https://www.litime.com/blogs/blogs/how-long-do-lithium-ion-batteries-last#:~:text=On%20average%2C%20most%20Lithium%2Dion,usage%20patterns%2C%20and%20storage%20conditions., which claims lithium batteries last "up to" 10 years, if they're not charged. This sounds more like a shelf life than a use life.

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If all Li-ion batteries only lasted 2-3 years, there would be no EV market at all. No one would buy a car whose most expensive component needed to be replaced in such a short time. Same for home and grid-based batteries.

The relionbattery article is probably referring to Li-ion batteries in phones and laptops.

The Tektronix article has no copyright date I can find. I think it does not reflect the most recent data; it certainly does not reflect batteries in EVs.

A recent Washington Post article talks about battery life in used EVs, with links:

----- From https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2024/04/30/cheap-electric-cars/ ----

[Recurrent is "a start-up monitoring EV battery health"]

People assume a used EV battery is like the battery in their iPhone: It wears out and must be replaced. “They are totally different beasts,” says Najman [from Recurrent] “In the data we’re seeing, all batteries are holding up remarkably well.”

Because of sophisticated cooling hardware and management software, most batteries are expected to outlive their car.

Recurrent studied the loss of lithium-ion battery capacity in 15,000 EVs going back as far as 2011. [Recurrent URL: https://support.recurrentauto.com/hubfs/ev-range-battery-guide.pdf ]

Degradation, they found, tends to follow an S-curve. A modern EV with a 250- or 300-mile range might lose roughly 20 to 40 miles of maximum range over the first 20,000 miles, and then level off to about 1 percent of the battery capacity annually. For a Tesla Model 3 with 341 miles of range, that translates to a maximum range of about 300 miles after a decade.

Manufacturers are now confident their batteries will go the distance. Nissan, which released its Leaf EV in 2010, says “almost all” of its original batteries are still powering its cars despite early recalls. And failure rates are dropping. About 1.5 percent of vehicles have had to replace batteries, outside of recalls, since 2011, reports Recurrent. That rate has fallen below 0.5 percent since model year 2016.

----- end quote ----

In short, there is plenty of backup for my claim that larger Li-ion batteries, as in EVs, last quite a long time. I speculate that laptops and phones simply lack room for the more sophisticated management hardware in larger sizes.

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I should add - Li Time, my last link, seems to be a Lithium Ion Battery manufacturer. Their description (now one year old) seems confusing, or maybe confused. They talk about Li Ion batteries, including a subset called Lithium Ion Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries. They claim that LiFePO4 batteries are much better for deep cycling, lasting much longer than "standard" Li Ion batteries. They say that standard batteries last 500-1000 cycles, but LiFePO4 batteries last up to 4000-15,000 cycles, or more than 10 years. But then the figures they show seem to show pretty small differences between Lithium Metal Oxide (LMO) and LiFePO4 performance, and some figures don't show LiFePO4 at all.

They say that LiFePO4 batteries were developed 20 years ago, but don't say whether they're currently used in EVs. Tesla seems to say they use LiFePO4 batteries, but they call them LFP.

So, I don't know. Perhaps batteries really will last long enough that battery life won't be a consideration. I haven't been able to find anyone who had to retire their EV or hybrid because the battery had worn out. On the other had, most EVs that have been sold have been sold within the last 5 years, so there hasn't really been time for durability problems to show up.

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Thanks for the reply. I should have noted that I really didn't believe a 2-3 year use life. That's even worse than a cell phone.

I note that the chart in Recurrent's slide deck plots "Dashboard range estimate at full charge" (pg. 13), not actual range observed, nor actual charge stored. I think this is important because one of their recommended practices is "recharge more often for optimal battery life" (pg. 10). I was very surprised to see this, because it goes against the concept of "battery memory", where rechargeable batteries lose capacity if they are only partially discharged (or only partially charged) - batteries that are consistently discharged only 50% before recharging eventually lose (forget) the lower 50% of their capacity. Here's a description of the effect: https://www.techtarget.com/whatis/definition/battery-memory-effect#:~:text=Some%20types%20of%20batteries%2C%20such,caused%20by%20poorly%2Ddesigned%20chargers. This site does say that lithium batteries don't suffer from the memory effect, so this may not be a factor after all.

My main perspective comes from Professor Thomas Murphy, late of University of California San Diego. He bought a plug-in hybrid in 2013, as part of his overall effort to live a very low-carbon lifestyle. He did detailed measurements of battery capacity, charging efficiency, range, and so on, and his findings were in line with what I had always heard of battery life. You can read a summary here: https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2015/08/my-chicken-of-an-ev/#more-1535

After owning the car for 2 years, and using the electric drive as much as possible, and discharging as deeply as possible before recharging, he noted that the battery had lost about 15% of its capacity after two years and 500 full-cycle equivalent charges.

Now, this doesn't necessarily contradict the claims from Recurrent: he mostly discharged the battery as fully as possible before recharging, which Recurrent says is bad. Also, he had a plug-in hybrid, not a full EV, so the battery was smaller and supported only about 30 miles range in all-electric mode. An EV with a range of 300 miles would have a much bigger battery, and go through far fewer charging cycles in the same time. Also, his car was from 2013 - it's possible that batteries have gotten much better in the last 10 years, although I haven't heard any such claim based on any data. It's also possible, as Recurrent claims, that degradation flattens out and the battery lasts much longer. He didn't follow up this post with a later one - or if he did I can't find it.

But it's also possible that the situation is just as bad as he said. I'm skeptical that "Dashboard range estimate" is reliable, because I don't know how it's calculated. If it starts with a full charge, defines that as the vehicle's nominal range, and counts down as the battery is discharged, it may hide actual degradation. The Toyota battery warranties I've seen guarantee 80% battery capacity, but this is based on the dashboard showing 4 cells out of 5 after a full charge, with no reference at all to the actual charge stored or miles range.

The Nissan claims sound encouraging, but I'm used to corporate figures presented in misleading terms. Nissan released its Leaf in 2010, but sold only 40 units in 2010. They mix old sales with new sales, and report battery replacements, outside of recalls, for the whole number, but don't report how many cars have been retired because the batteries died. How many of the 2011 sales are still operating, and how many still have the original batteries? Is it 98.5 percent, or much less?

If you look at Recurrent's published study from 2023 (https://www.recurrentauto.com/research/how-long-do-ev-batteries-last), they say that 4% or more of cars from 2014 or earlier have had batteries replaced. But they also say "The reality is that if the battery dies, so does the car. " They also say "Even that observation can prove a challenge, though, since most EVs have been on the road well under six years, with almost 30% sold in 2022." So it's likely that significantly more than 4% of batteries have died - but they wouldn't be included in the study because the cars were scrapped.

One good indicator that batteries don't last long is the extremely low resale values of electric vehicles. (https://www.cnbc.com/2024/04/05/poor-resale-values-of-evs-are-a-problem-for-the-industry-warn-experts.html) Through 2017, 114,827 Nissan Leafs had been sold in the US (177,719 through 2022). I'd really like to know how many of them are still on the road, but I can't find a figure.

It may be that EVs end up as viable replacements for gasoline-powered cars. But the evidence so far is that they're only viable with large subsidies.

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Too bad the rise of battery technology doesn't tell the whole story. The amount of land solar arrays require is gargantuan, and mining is a filthy business. In the case of lithium, it takes 500,000 gallons of water to produce one metric ton of battery grade ore in places where it competes with agriculture and drinking water. This while groundwater is being pumped faster than it can be replenished. The world is in historic drought. Consider some of the stunning statistics of the Thacker Pass lithium mine underway. https://geoffreydeihl.substack.com/p/showdown-at-thacker-pass

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Compared to what?

I hate to break it to you, but mining coal and oil is _also_ a filthy business. Have you heard of this new technique called "fracking"? It uses a lot of water too. And contaminates groundwater.

And cars need gas and oil throughout their lifetime, while car batteries last 10 years or more.

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You're not breaking anything to me. I'm well aware of the horrors of mining and also that fracking which extended us past the original estimate of peak oil is playing out. I hope you will read these two articles.



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Now how about the graph of the environmental and social destruction caused by mining, the declining ore concentrations, the rock to metal ratio of each of the minerals rising ... This industry funded tosh is very harmful because people lose the impetus to make the real change needed

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Feb 13·edited Feb 13

What impetus? What is the "real" change needed? Anthropogenic global warming is a tragedy of the commons, caused by the "free" market's relentless proclivity to socialize every private transaction cost it can get away with. Our aggregate greenhouse emissions result from *economically sound* individual choices, as long as the private benefit of our fossil carbon purchases, both directly and in every good or service made with it, exceeds our expected share of the social costs. While you and I might bemoan the ever-increasing global demand for consumer goods, we can be sure that the 8 billion humans now alive, and the unknown number yet to live, will satisfy their demand for supplemental (i.e. non-food) energy at the lowest price they can find. The tragedy is in the Greek sense, of individual humans driven to destroy themselves at the whims of the gods. The only way to escape the tragedy of the climate commons, is to collectively intervene in the energy market so it can decarbonize the global economy.

Yes, there will be some environmental and social costs of decarbonizing. They will require collective action to mitigate. They'd have to be globally catastrophic to compete with global warming, however! Are they? You be the judge.

Meanwhile, in 2022 the profit to oil and gas companies was over $4 trillion (reuters.com/business/energy/oil-gas-industry-earned-4-trillion-last-year-says-iea-chief-2023-02-14). With solar PV and onshore wind energy now the cheapest source of new electricity, however, there's a lot of incentive for capital to migrate to renewables and storage. It must be collectively managed, but it will happen regardless of the "real" change needed.

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beware climate myopia, there are many existential crises looming, and like CC they are symptoms of overshoot. Digging up the planet to keep our crazy lifestyles in the rich world is ecocidal. The life supporting capacity of the planet is teetering pushing it over the edge so we can keep leaf blowers, huge cars, long distance flying, cruise ships ... is simple NUTS

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Feb 15·edited Feb 15

I agree with you, but mitigating the tragedy of the commons on any scale entails politics, which is the art of the possible. For example, the US finally enacted the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, flawed and inadequate though it is, by a strict party-line vote, 34 years after James Hansen's announcement to Congress; and the IRA may not survive the next election. Don't forget that in the US, climate-science deniers vote! It does look like specific government incentives for renewable energy and storage entrepreneurs to ascend their learning curves and drive down the price of decarbonizing the global economy, are at least possible (https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2021/06/climate-change-green-vortex-america/619228). Persuading every US resident to consume less of everything, not so much. And I doubt residents of developing countries would appreciate exhortations from me not to improve their material standard of living, either. Your Mileage May Vary, however.

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Appreciate the analysis! And a question: what are the resource constraints? Do we have enough of the key minerals?

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I would take Ms. Richie's views with a huge grain of salt. Dangerously optimistic.

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Thank you!

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I hope somebody is exploring ways to do efficient recycling of all these batteries we will soon be using!

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killer report....

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Not really. To completely face out fossil fuels. We have to add 30,000 terra watt of energy power per hour. And to a shift that we have to extract a lot of minerals that aren’t there or will be too expensive to extract in the future.

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I want to add a comment: I think fossil backup will be with us for the foreseeable future, but it will be less and less used. That idle capacity for natural gas backup production will be a permanent feature, and at some point it will probably be nationalized. Renewable is everyday more competitive, but it is hard to believe that will ever be reliable enough to get rid of the gas backup.

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I expect a surge in pumped hydro investments to follow from electricity industry confidence that solar and wind will grow to scales that require large scale storage. Until that confidence was there such investments were always going to struggle and arguments that building it as a prerequisite was required was more about opponents raising bars too high, to force everyone under, not over. Confidence in massive growth of RE is only a very recent thing, within the past decade and old thinking persists.

Batteries are getting the early advantage, from quick build times and for services like frequency control. Whether other chemistries will manage to compete with pumped hydro and gas is a question - iron flow, sodium seem capable of much lower costs than Lithium.

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Well, if transportation is electrified, storage capacity will be there, so before other things are built for that purpose, probably the best is to make cars and recharging points with the view of their systemic use in mind…

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But you need the batteries, either big and small to be intelligent and recharge in the times of maximum “excess generation”


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Absolutely spectacular article!

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