Did anyone else see the pre Monaco GP drive around with David Coulthard and the Prince of Monaco. I was stuck by how much the Prince looked like our very own D Lenigas. Maybe when in town he acts as the Princes body double.
How much lithium carbonate equivalent will be required for that many batteries? Obviously battery technology will change over time, e.g. from graphite anode, to silicon/graphite, to lithium anodes (oxygen cathode). Assuming that lithium is still used, then I believe a fair estimate is 0.5kg LCE per kWh. This might be a little too low in practice, but let's go with it.
So a fully solar powered world will need 286TWh * 0.5kg = 143,000kt LCE.
Perhaps 24 hour storage is too much; perhaps the energy requirement estimate is too great. Let's also consider a world that only needs a tenth of that too: 14,000kt LCE.
I can think of various complicated models, but the simplest one I can think of starts with the 2015 LCE battery requirements and increases these a certain percentage year upon year until we are half way to the final year, from which the requirements are decreased by the same percentage year upon year. i.e. the transition follows a symmetrical S curve.
As said previously there are likely to be many aspects of the model which aren't quite right. For example, the take up could be super exponential, recycling LCE could be important for longer transitions. In addition the current LCE in the world isn't taken into account.
One consequence of the model is that the greatest requirements are half way between now and the full transition year. i.e. for a 2030 end year, the greatest LCE per year requirement is around year 2023. Obviously in practice the S curve may be skewed a little - probably towards the end point.
Results: Assuming a 2015 rate of 60kt per year of LCE for batteries. The model predicts, and assuming I haven't made any errors, that for an end point of 2031, the LCE requirements for 2023 and 2024 (the model has two years of equal production at the inflection point) are
143Mt total LCE: 226% growth rate: 41,000kt/y 14.3Mt total LCE: 161% growth rate: 2,700kt/y
The equivalent inflection rates for an end point of 2036 in years 2025 and 2026 are:
143Mt: 189%: 35,000kt/y 14.3Mt: 144%: 2,300kt/y
So according to Tony Seba's predictions and my model based on those predictions, even in reasonably pessimistic scenarios, by around 2023-2026 we are going to need production rates of LCE for batteries around an order of magnitude larger than predicted by SignumBOX, and which were recently used in a BCN presentation.
Crazy as the numbers may seem - I'm leaning towards believing them: technology changes fast - and this world-wide energy and transport transition is being driven by rapid advances in technology.
I can see why securing supply at this stage could be paramount to future growth! (cough, Tesla, cough)
There were no questions at the end of the PTIT talk - I think they were shocked into silence at the incredulity of effectively been told their industry was dead and they would be out of jobs by 2030! ;-)
I thought I'd compare Tony's view of the future with BCN's.
According to the latest BCN investor presentation at:
On slide 7, SignumBOX estimates from March 2013 are used to forecast Lithium supply and demand growth out to 2025. For batteries it grows from around 50kt/yr LCE in 2012 to 250kt/yr in 2025. I want to see what rate we get if we base the growth on Tony's view of the world.
There are many ways of approaching this, and the approach I have taken is almost certainly "wrong" - but all models are wrong, just that some are useful! Here we go:
the world energy consumption was 104,426TWh in 2012. The assertion is that by some particular year the world will almost exclusively be powered by the Sun, and that some fraction of that will be stored in batteries.
Already from the offset there are uncertainties. e.g. How will the world energy consumption change during the transition? The trend has been upwards, but it might go down as burning oil for transport is less efficient than using electricity stored in batteries, or perhaps there are far fewer vehicles (Tony predicts 80% fewer cars due to autonomous taxis). For simplicity I'll go with the same energy requirements.
So how many batteries are needed? Another tricky question. Presumably devices which are mobile will need batteries, but it isn't so clear for stationary devices - for example it is conceivable the world will become connected by high voltage direct currents which are claimed to only have an energy loss per 1000km of 3.5% or so:
e.g. the East and West coasts of the US could power each other for some fraction of the night - only relying on batteries for a small part of the day. For the base calculation I'll assume that in the interests of energy security - 24 hours of world energy demand are required. This leads to a total battery supply of 104,426TWh/365 = 286TWh
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