Disruptive technology… Nobody can ever really comprehend or anticipate the type of profound impact it will have on society until it has already come and gone… It is only with the benefit of hindsight can we look back and say, “Well, damn… wasn’t that the most obvious and predictable thing… ever.”
The first two have already happened (each gaining mass adoption in no more than a decade), and millions (billions) of dollars were made by investors who were savvy enough to invest into those sectors before they really took flight. The next revolution is now upon us and I am certain that it will again overwhelm us. The wheels are already in motion, led by electric vehicles (EV), solar energy/renewables, and grid storage.
The Rise of Infrastructure
Believe it or not, the following just happened…
Renewable Energy Jobs Surpass Oil and Gas Sector for First Time in U.S.
What’s the biggest complaint when it comes to EVs? Lack of range and long charging times. Both are being refined and improved upon, continuously, each and everyday, so it will only be a matter of time before we have mass adoption. It wasn’t that long ago, when EVs (outside of an expensive Tesla Model S) could only provide about 100 miles of range or so. Think the original Nissan Leaf.
Now, in 2016, the auto companies are stepping up their game. The Chevy Bolt launches later this year (October), promising 200 miles of range at a $30,000 sticker (after full federal tax credits).
All of which is made possible by the rapidly decreasing costs of battery cells.
Most recently, Hyundai announced its own plans to release a 250 mile EV by 2020.
Of course, we’ve also got the Tesla Model 3, which all eyes will be fixated on in 2018, when its expected to launch.
Yes, we’ve still got a ways to go, but improvements are steadily being made.
We’ve come a long ways since 2013, when I first got interested in the EV story…
EV Competition Growing
But it’s not just Tesla and your typical well-known auto manufacturers (General Motors, Hyundai, BMW, etc.) who alone will be leading the way and spearheading the EV movement. No, you’ve also got a fair share of newcomers to the mix, many of them flush with cash.
Morgan Stanley analysts actually believe the company is more interested in shared mobility than in selling a car, and they note that it is now spending 20 times more on research and development in the than leading automakers are spending. There’s also a report that the company is exploring building its own charging stations. Sound a lot like Tesla? Well, this wouldn’t be the first time Apple ripped off an idea from another company and made it even more popular than the original product in its category.
And don’t sleep on those rich Chinese companies, who no doubt have big aspirations as they look to make their mark in the EV space.
The Chinese “Tesla killer”.
“Tesla’s a great company and has taken the global car industry to the EV era,” Jia said in an interview at the Beijing headquarters of his Le Holdings Co, or LeEco. “But we’re not just building a car. We consider the car a smart mobile device on four wheels, essentially no different to a cellphone or tablet.
“We hope to surpass Tesla and lead the industry leapfrogging to a new age,” said Jia, wearing a black T-shirt and jeans.
And sooner or later, you just know that the second largest high-tech company (by market cap) in Silicon Valley will find a way of integrating their Intellectual Property (IP) into these EVs… If the “tipping point” for EVs happens as quickly as I think it will, it should only be a matter of time before we go full-autonomous.
From Extreme Tech.
You are looking at Google’s very own, built-from-scratch-in-Detroit self-driving car. The battery-powered electric vehicle has as a stop-go button, but no steering wheel or pedals.
We’ve self-driven more than 1.5 million miles and are currently out on the streets of Mountain View, CA, Austin, TX, Kirkland, WA and Metro Phoenix, AZ.
Our testing fleet includes both modified Lexus SUVs and new prototype vehicles that are designed from the ground up to be fully self-driving. There are safety drivers aboard all vehicles for now. We look forward to learning how the community perceives and interacts with us, and uncovering situations that are unique to a fully self-driving vehicle.
Say hello if you see us around!
There’s no going back after this… An EV is so much simpler, cleaner, more elegant, easier to maintain, and technologically superior to an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. EVs will eventually make ICE go the way of Kodak film. Obsolete.
The major high-tech companies have all spoken — It’s 100% EV all the way.
If I was a betting man (I am), I would never in a million years put up my investing money battling against the likes of: Tesla, Apple, Google, etc…
I’m from Silicon Valley for crying out loud… I worked as both a hardware and software engineer for close to a decade… If anyone should know better, it’s me!
EV Future Demand
The clean energy revolution hasn’t even gotten off the ground yet, and you already have skeptics calling for a “bubble”. But according to Bloomberg, it won’t be until 2022 when the cost of an EV will be equivalent to an ICE vehicle, at which point we would have the catalyst needed for “liftoff sales”.
So, if the “tipping point” isn’t expected for another few years, how could we possibly be in a “bubble”, already, in 2016?
You can interpret the above projection numbers however you’d like (can you say uber conservative?)… What do I see?
Drastic Change is Coming Soon
And coming sooner than we think, as countries around the globe ramp up their efforts to combat pollution and global warming.
Here’s what India has got planned.
And fresh off the press from Norway.
From Autocar Professional.
Translated, the headline reads that four leading political parties are likely to agree to stop sales of diesel and petrol-engined vehicle by the year 2025.
Norway, which offers handsome incentives to electric vehicle buyers, is already a major market for Tesla. The country, which sees annual sales of around 175,000 cars and has a population of five million, is eyeing a zero emission target from all cars by 2025.
Norway is known to be among the greenest countries on the planet and sources most of its electricity from hydropower. It has more electric vehicles per capita than any country in the world – one out of four cars is an EV.
Which prompted this tweet from Elon Musk.
Just heard that Norway will ban new sales of fuel cars in 2025. What an amazingly awesome country. You guys rock!! pic.twitter.com/uAXuBkDYuR
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 3, 2016
And let’s not forget to mention China…
The damage has already been done. China has got some serious smog problems that need to be resolved sooner rather than later. The time to commit to going Green is NOW.
Many More Megafactories
Which has created unprecedented demand for batteries…
Enter the Megafactories. According to Benchmark Minerals, there are no fewer than 12 new Megafactories currently under development, due to come online sometime between now and 2020.
Now, it looks like Volkswagen might want to enter the fray.
An insider familiar with the new plan spoke with Handelsblatt, saying, “We want to launch a major initiative, one that will put us at the top of the industry.” The German paper says the company’s board is likely to approve the plan to build the battery factory. This initiative also has the support of the works council and the state of Lower Saxony, a major shareholder.
Bottom line, companies such as Volkswagen, LG Chem, BYD, Foxconn, Panasonic, Samsung, etc. aren’t going to be shelling out billions of dollars if they don’t have serious plans of making this clean energy revolution a reality.
Just like I noted above, I’m not about to go betting against all this big money…
Solar/Renewable Energy Progress
The clean energy movement isn’t confined to just EVs. Actually, with the costs of solar coming down so much in recent years, it has become incredibly affordable…
From ZME Science.
Solar energy has become dirt cheap, and the market is flourishing. GTM research says the solar market should grow by 119 percent in 2016 compared to the previous year. The low prices are making a lot of rooftop residents jubilant, but the same can’t be said about the largest solar contractors in the states whose stocks have plummeted by more than 50 percent.
As much as 85% of the global solar energy was installed within the past five years, so you can get an idea of the kind of momentum we’re talking about. This year, an astonishing 16 gigawatts of solar will be installed in the U.S. Most of this capacity is comprised of utility-scale installations, but residential capacity (rooftop solar) has also grown a lot.
Which translated to a banner year for solar and renewables.
From Inside Climate News.
One million solar power installations now dot America’s rooftops and landscape, an achievement being hailed as a milestone by advocates of solar energy. There were just 1,000 such projects at the turn of this century, and only six years ago, going solar cost twice as much.
The U.S. hit 1 million solar installations at the end of February, amounting to roughly 27.2 gigawatts of solar power capacity, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a trade association based in Washington, D.C. That’s enough power to supply about 6 million homes.
Despite the tremendous progress being made in solar, it still currently only accounts for just 1% of electricity generated in the U.S.
But just like with everything, you’ve got to start somewhere…
An “extraordinary” year for renewable energy saw new investment in renewable power and fuels hit $286 billion in 2015 and an estimated 147 gigawatts added to renewable power generating capacity, according to a new study from the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21).
In addition the study, Renewables 2016 Global Status Report, found that the use of renewables expanded in the transport sector. China also appears to be emerging as a big player in renewables, accounting for a third of the $286 billion spend.
Since solar energy is intermittent, naturally it begs the question of how to store it?
Enter grid storage, which could be the next booming market in the clean energy segment.
In fact, Tesla thinks that grid storage will outpace even EV sales…
From The Country Caller.
Regarding battery storage, Mr. Musk said, “No one is really doing it right.” He continued: “Powerpacks can scale on a global basis faster than the cars do. … I think the rate of growth will be several times that of the car side of Tesla.”
The automaker disclosed sales numbers for Tesla Energy for the first time during the first quarter, in which the company had 2,500 Powerwalls and about 100 Powerpacks. With overall sales of more than 25MWh of energy storage, The Country Caller estimated that the business generated at least $12 million during the period.
Just like with EVs, there’s more than just the Tesla story…
From Speed Lux.
But a Mercedes spokesperson informed Tech Insider that the system for a conventional family house expenses in between $9,000 and $10,000, consisting of the price of the inverter and installation.
Mercedes released its battery in last year in Germany and is seeking to roll it out in other European markets. The 66-pound, modular battery stores 2.5 kWh of energy, with the ability to stack eight devices for 20 kWh of storage.
The average individual in the United States utilizes 30 kWh each day.
Tesla’s 200-pound Powerwall posses 6.4 kWh of energy, but you can stack 9 Powerwalls together for nearly 58 kWh worth of energy capacity. A single Powerwall device costs $3,000, but that number can amount to more than $7,000 when consisting of the cost of setup and an inverter, as per a Bloomberg report.
From Renewable Energy World.
Available to pre-order in Europe in September 2016, the ‘xStorage’ unit will connect to the power grid or renewable generators, such as solar panels, and charge up when grid power is cheaper, for example during the night, or when energy is being generated from renewable resources.
Paul Willcox, Chairman, Nissan Europe, said in a statement: “It is high time consumers were given the flexibility and power to control how and when they use energy in their own homes. The new xStorage solution combines Nissan’s expertise in vehicle design and reliable battery technology with Eaton’s leadership in power quality and electronics, resulting in a formidable second life battery solution. We want to make energy storage exciting and affordable to everyone, not least because it delivers real consumer benefits whilst ensuring smarter and more sustainable energy management for the grid.”
The changing landscape and shift to clean energy hasn’t gone unnoticed by some of the major oil companies out there. Some are quicker to react than others, like French major Total, who recently acquired battery maker Saft in a $1.1 billion deal.
It will be most interesting to observe what the fossil fuel majors will elect to do in the future as renewables continue to gain more and more momentum (and market share)…
Betting on the Revolution
As I mentioned earlier, I am a betting man… And I’m betting BIG (primarily through lithium stocks) on the coming clean energy revolution. It’s no secret to readers that I think the next major paradigm shift is fast approaching us.
I’ve learned from the internet and smartphone booms to NEVER underestimate it; analysts ALWAYS do (like Bloomberg above), and I am sure that they will be off by a country mile (again).
Look at how swiftly the smartphone gained mass market penetration… In just one decade, we transitioned from a world where only top-level executives had the luxury of owning a “fancy” BlackBerry to one where now everyone and their mother owns a smartphone…
By the end of 2014, there were 1.63 billion smartphone users globally…
The clean energy and EV revolution is fast approaching. You can either hop onboard, or get the hell out of the way. Irregardless, there’s no stopping it at this point.
The future has arrived.