Volkswagen Group just raised its stake in stealthy battery builder QuantumScape with <a href="https://media.vw.com/en-us/releases/1044" >a substantial $100 million bet</a>. The world's automotive giants are in an expensive race for the lead in electric vehicles and this is just their most recent capital move.
QuantumScape was founded in 2010 as a Stanford University spinoff and was initially funded by ARPA-E for an "all-electric battery." That dubious idea was soon abandoned for a more traditional lithium metal solid-state approach. ("For battery nerds, 'solid-state' is synonymous with 'lithium metal anode," according to battery expert David Snydacker of <a href="http://www.dosimaresearch.com/" >Dosima Research</a>.)
A few Silicon Valley publications have labeled QuantumScape a "unicorn" since it garnered a valuation of more than a billion dollars in its most recent funding round (according to <a href="http://get.pitchbook.com/" >PitchBook</a> Data.) That's a heady valuation for a company still deep in its development phase and without significant revenue. (Theranos had a valuation of $9 billion at <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "VW Invests $100M in QuantumScape, a Battery-Building Unicorn"
Elon Musk announced Monday that Tesla is laying off 9 percent of salaried employees at the company. This is not the first round of sweeping layoffs at Tesla — the most recent came after the SolarCity acquisition. But this appears to be the biggest so far.
This week, we'll discuss Elon's new quest for profitability.
Then, we'll cover the neverending saga in Washington over saving coal plants. The Trump administration is now trying to invoke national security to prop up closing coal and nuke plants — and the nation’s top energy regulators are giving it the cold shoulder.
Finally, The Energy Gang is celebrating its fifth anniversary this week. To mark the occasion, we'll each pick a single moment from the last five years that caused an unstoppable ripple in the world of energy.
<em>This podcast is brought to you by <a href="https://sense.com/welcome-back-three.html" rel="nofollow" >Sense</a>. Sense installs in your home's electrical panel and <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "Tesla’s Latest Layoffs: Can Musk Achieve Profitability?"
Batteries could play a key role in helping to roll out an electric vehicle supercharger network across the U.K., according to a company called Pivot Power.
The firm, which describes itself as a special-purpose venture formed between energy storage project developer Become Energy and renewables investment company Downing, hopes to install the world’s biggest battery network.
It plans to deploy forty-five 50-megawatt batteries at substations close to major auto routes across the U.K. Each battery would make money from grid services and energy trading.
Crucially, though, the cost of adapting each substation for battery storage would also allow it to be used for EV charging.
By connecting rapid charging stations directly to the high-voltage transmission network, Pivot Power intends to gain access to up to 20 megawatts of cheap power per site. This would grant it efficiencies that would be hard to attain via regional distribution <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "Pivot Power Plans Massive UK Supercharger Network Paired With 2 Gigawatts of Batteries"
Ultracapacitor makers are looking to vehicle electrification as a way to increase sales, targeting the so-called "micro-hybrid" market rather than plug-in electric vehicles.
Manufacturers such as Maxwell Power and CAP-XX believe ultracaps could help carmakers overcome several shortcomings of battery-only micro-hybrids, which are internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles equipped with stop-start and kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS).
Micro-hybrids are growing in popularity because they can achieve fuel savings of up to <a href="http://www.hybridcars.com/stop-start-primer-not-all-systems-are-created-equal/" >around 25 percent</a> compared to ICE-only models.
Stop-start systems, which shut the engine off when the vehicle stops, can account for up to about 10 percent of the savings. A KERS can make up the rest by recovering energy from braking and using it to power electrical systems and, in some cases, assist the engine.
But micro-hybrids that rely on batteries alone may face problems, according to Stefan Werkstetter, senior field application engineer at Maxwell Power, which <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
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China’s lithium-ion battery makers are poised to cut prices by as much as 40 percent this year in response to electric vehicle subsidy changes.
The cuts are unlikely to affect global battery markets, according to Logan Goldie-Scot, head of energy storage analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “It’s not that it’s a 30 to 40 percent cut on the benchmark global prices that we’re seeing elsewhere,” he said.
Instead, Chinese lithium-ion battery manufacturers are having to slash margins on nationally sold products to account for reductions in electric vehicle subsidies that came into effect in January.
“The 2017 subsidy is a steep 30 percent lower than the 2016 subsidy at the national level,” said another I-Chun Hsiao, a BNEF analyst in Tokyo. “Provincial subsidies are also being cut.”
The electric vehicle subsidies had previously allowed a small group of government-approved Chinese battery makers to get away with charging <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "Chinese Lithium-Ion Battery Makers Poised to Cut Domestic Prices 40%"
Tesla’s recent purchase of German manufacturing automation specialist Grohmann Engineering comes as an increasing number of Gigafactory rivals spring up across Europe.
Tesla announced the Grohmann deal last month after <a href="http://www.affarsvarlden.se/bors-ekonominyheter/tesla-avhopparen-vill-starta-svensk-batterifabrik-6792052" >Swedish media reported</a> that its former supply chain vice president, <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/ecspcar" >Peter Carlsson</a>, was planning to open a battery gigafactory of his own in Sweden.
The announcement means at least five gigafactories are now slated for the continent. Tesla itself is planning <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/nov/08/tesla-adds-german-firm-grohmann-to-european-operations" >a European gigafactory</a> in the wake of the Grohmann acquisition. The facility will be used to build <a href="https://electrek.co/2016/11/08/tesla-location-gigafactory-2-europe-2017-both-batteries-and-cars/" >batteries and cars</a>.
Meanwhile BMZ opened the first phase of a German battery manufacturing facility <a href="http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1329703" >in May</a>. LG Chem has unveiled plans for a factory in Poland, potentially <a href="http://insideevs.com/lg-chem-to-construct-battery-factory-in-poland/" >opening next year</a>. And Samsung SDI wants to manufacture up to 2.5 gigawatt-hours of batteries in Hungary <a href="https://electrek.co/2016/08/31/samsung-sdi-gigafactory-hungary-plans-batteries-50000-evs-per-year/">from 2018</a>.
Carlsson’s venture, SGF Energy, has received little publicity outside his native Sweden, <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "European Rivals Line Up Against Tesla in the Race to Build Gigafactories"