Tesla is an electric car company that has recently announced plans to build a “gigafactory” possibly in Arizona. The goal is to double the world’s production of lithium-ion batteries while reducing the cost by 50% by 2020 for batteries that charge faster with a higher storage capacity than anything on the market today.
It’s potentially a serious game-changer. If Tesla succeeds, we are much closer to affordable storage batteries for individual homes which charge up when the sun shines or the wind blows and then give us heat, light, and power when the sun goes down.
Ultimately, this could do a great deal to reduce environmental pollution and climate change.
But it will be highly disruptive. The role of traditional energy companies will change radically. Energy companies in Germany are already facing huge losses as a result of renewables there. (One company posted a loss of $2.76 billion last year.) Traditionally, energy companies have smoothed out the delivery of electricity to our homes and businesses, so that we mostly experience a steady steam of electricity whether the sun is shining or not, or however much electricity is being pulled out of the grid at any given peak time.
Of course, there aren’t any simple answers for problems as huge and complex as our increasing global use of energy.
But part of the solution lies in human ingenuity.
This might be a big one.