There was a press release last week that really caught my attention. The Nikkei carried a story about a new process for making lithium ion batteries that promised to dramatically reduce cost and increase energy storage capacity. The story indicated a 3x increase in storage capacity and much lower production costs. Wow, I thought, if this is actually commercializable then it will accelerate the shift toward PHEV and EVs. And also storage systems for renewable energy. And unlike other battery technologies I have been reading about, the story indicated it should be on the market in a little more than a year.
The press release issued by Sekisui Chemical (click link) adds detail, and more important, photos of the new battery -- a flexible, film-type, sprayed on product. Wow.
Then a few days later, I see on the Sekisui Chemical website yet another remarkable press release: for a cheap, flexible organic dye-sensitized solar cell produced at room temperature with an 8% conversion efficiency, a world record for this type of cell. This was based upon work done with Japan's National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). Again, the company hopes to have a product on the market -- for use in building integrated applications (BIPV) such as office windows -- by 2015.
These are the kind of advances -- that could be on the market in the next few years and represent a significant jump from today -- they are a reason to be very optimistic about Japan's (and the global) energy future, and to wonder whether it is really good value to be spending trillions of yen on trying to restart a portion of the existing nuclear power fleet.