Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Google Clean Energy Innovation Study: It's All About the Batteries

The fine folks at Google did an extensive study on "The Impact of Clean Energy Innovation" and came up with some very intriguing numbers...

The analysis assumes aggressive hypothetical cost breakthroughs (BT) in clean power generation, grid-storage, electric vehicle, and natural gas technologies and compares them to Business as Usual (BAU) scenarios modeled to 2030 and 2050. The model also compares innovation scenarios in combination with two clean
energy policy paths: 1) comprehensive federal incentives and mandates called
“Clean Policy” and 2) a power sector-only $30/metric ton price on CO2 called “$30/
ton Carbon Price.” Our modeling indicates that, when compared to BAU in 2030,
aggressive energy innovation alone could have enormous potential to simultaneously:

• Grow the US economy by over $155 billion in GDP/year ($244 billion with
Clean Policy)

• Create over 1.1 million new net jobs (1.9 million with Clean Policy)

• Save US consumers over $942/household/year ($995 with Clean Policy)

• Reduce US oil consumption by over 1.1 billion barrels/year

• Reduce US total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 13% (21% with
Clean Policy)

By 2050, innovation in the modeled technologies alone reduced GHG emissions
55% and 63% when combined with policy, while continuing positive economic and
job growth. This analysis indicates that aggressive clean energy innovation could
simultaneously help address the US’ major long-term economic, environmental,
and security goals.

Read deeper into the report, and we find that most of the benefits achieved by 2030 come from those (hopefully Michigan-made) advanced batteries. That's right, it's all about us - if we make the right decisions now.

The bulk of innovation’s benefits by 2030 were attributed to advances in battery technology, enabling adoption of EVs, PHEVs, and HEVs. Overall benefits from power breakthroughs were less than EVs by 2030 for two reasons. First, most consumers spend less on electricity than on gasoline, leading to less household savings from cheaper power. Second, due to the very low cost of coal in the US, clean power technology did not attain as large a cost advantage over fossil alternatives as was the case in the transportation sector with electric vehicles by 2030.


Breakthroughs in battery technology could push EVs over cost-performance tipping points, enabling mass adoption. In our model, rapid decreases in battery costs and increases in energy density by 2030 enabled the production of electric vehicles with 300 mile range and a total cost of ownership (TCO) lower than that of internal combustion vehicles. This led to EVs, Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) and PHEVs achieving 90% market share of new light duty vehicle sales in 2030, reducing oil consumption by 1.1 billion barrels per year — or more than Canada’s entire 2009 production.

You could see this happening, especially if we see some major advancement in battery technology, which is almost guaranteed given the time frame. We certainly are going to see more hybrids and increases in fuel economy for standard internal combustion engines no matter what happens. Add that to the other assumed innovations in renewable power, grid storage, and the use of natural gas (they also don't see coal going away anytime soon), and they have a very detailed model as to how they reached these numbers.

And if we listen to the knuckle-dragging Koch crowd, and ignore this "enormous potential"?

In our model, a mere five year delay in starting aggressive cost reduction curves could cost the economy an aggregate $2.3–3.2 trillion in unrealized GDP gains,1.2–1.4 million net jobs and 8-28 gigatons of potential avoided CO2 emissions by 2050 (Delay Breakthrough vs. All Tech Breakthrough and $30/ton Carbon + Breakthrough)

We've seen study after study after study showing the benefits of moving in this direction. The only thing stopping us is the doubt and misdirection being amplified in the media by those who have a huge stake in maintaining the status quo of Big Oil and Big War - and those folks are going to throw everything including the kitchen sink at the next election to win power back, which would be devastating to our "potential". Figure we already have a two-year delay in place as Congress sputters in obstruction mode - and we have no time to waste after that, as the rest of the world is already moving on.

I believe we will get there in the end regardless because the cost will reach parity probably sooner than we think - the question becomes whether or not the United States leads the way and sees the job creation, or whether we play catch-up.

Go read the whole report. Interesting stuff.

Update: And some proof on our role comes later in the day...

Industry experts today said Michigan has the opportunity of a lifetime to regain its throne as the automotive capital of the world through the electric vehicle industry.

Dan Galves, a member of Deutsche Bank’s Global Auto/Auto Parts equity research team, expects Michigan to account for 20 percent of all lithium-ion batteries made for the automotive industry by 2015.

“The U.S. has about 30 percent of that capacity and Michigan represents about two-thirds of that, so 20 percent of the world’s capacity of lithium ion batteries we think will be in Michigan,” he said today at a Detroit Economic Club meeting at the Renaissance Center in Detroit.

“This is not a burden to America,” said Galves, who expects the automotive battery industry to be a $14 billion market by 2015. “This is the biggest job opportunity, the biggest economic opportunity to reduce that trade deficient.”

'Nuff said.