Tesla CTO J.B. Straubel Discusses Batteries, Clean Energy & More – Video


Tesla CTO J.B. Straubel is so full of knowledge that listening to him discuss batteries, battery history, Tesla’s mission, clean energy and a carbon-free energy future is not boring, but rather eye-opening.

Here’s the video description:

“JB Straubel, Tesla Motors’ CTO & the man behind the startup’s major technical advances, tells us his electric mission to make our entire energy usage carbon-free.”


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18 Comments on "Tesla CTO J.B. Straubel Discusses Batteries, Clean Energy & More – Video"

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One of the few rewards that comes with being middle-aged, is to witness a technological revolution that we were only able to imagine when we were teenagers.

In the 1970s America endured two significant oil shortages that suddenly got people thinking about a utopian energy future.

Now we get to watch the real thing unfold.

The shape of things to come.

And we get to buy an EV and kill Extortion thru Energy.

Definitely. I remember watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon, having a “Last Car” sign on the trunk during the oil embargo, the EV1 come and go, the Big Three go through their changes, and now I wait to see the Tesla 3 and its competitors come to Pennsylvania.

Tesla’s batteries are still too pricey except where high peak rates are.
I still use lead/$90/kwhr, for homes because they cost much less still.
Lithium needs to get down to $200/kwhr retail to be really viable in most
Tough I recently bought a Volt battery pack at $200/kwhr used. I’ll use tat for my next EV where it’s lightweight pays
There are many batteries for homes,buildings that cost under $100/kwhr but until recently, no demand from the grid that just need production.
Even industrial lead/Sub batteries last 20 yrs and with an onsite reformer, unlimited life at under $100/kwhr.
Now if I can buy some Tesla EV battery modules at OEM pricing, cost plus 20%, the things that can be done, especially once they it $100/kwhr, utilities and gas cars are in big trouble.

$3000 for Powerwall is a good price when you consider the longevity. Lead-acids need to be replaced at a much more frequent basis.

But I don’t think you can get a Powerwall yet. I kinda doubt you’ll be able to get one for a long time unless you are a SolarCity customer with a big PV system install.

The price of the battery alone doesn’t matter. The metric that counts is cost per roundtrip kWh. If the 7kWh unit lasts for 10 years of daily cycling and costs $3,000, and it can deliver 10 years of 7kWh storage at 95% efficiency, then it comes out to about 12.3c/kWh LCOE. Is there a 12c differential between peak and off-peak? Probably not, at least not year round. But as the price drops by 40% over the next 3 years, 7-8c/kWh is much more attractive of a price point.

jerryd said:

“I still use lead/$90/kwhr, for homes because they cost much less still.
Lithium needs to get down to $200/kwhr retail to be really viable in most places.”

I suggest you rethink your figures.

The rule of thumb is that li-ion batteries last about three times as long before needing replacing, as compared to deep-cycle lead-acid. Furthermore, the usual advice is not to use more than 50% DoD (Depth of Discharge) for lead-acid, but 80% DoD is typical for li-ion. Therefore, you can use a li-ion pack with fewer kWh to replace the lead-acid pack.

Given those two factors, using li-ion batteries at current prices should be significantly cheaper, in the long run, than using lead-acid for home storage.

I think three times is a bit optimistic, two times is more realistic.

To store 1kWh, you need to buy 2kWh lead (50% DOD) or 1.25kWh Li-Ion (80% DOD). But because lead is aging quicker (factor two) you end up buying 4kWh of lead batteries to store the same amount of energy as with 1.25kWh of Li-Ion Battery.

So if you buy lead acid batteries for around 100$/kWh everything below 320$/kWh for Li-Ion is a better deal!

Yeah, but there’s a pretty big business even with only a few percent of the developed world buying them.

Australia alone is 25M people paying 25c/kWh *avg* for electricity. Add remote areas in the rest of the developed world, and you could have 50M people wanting to go off-grid with 10-30kWh of packs. That’s 10-30 years of Gigafactory output.

Of course, others will compete for stationary storage, and new technologies are being developed aside from lithium ion.

Without a change in livestyle the typical european will need a 300kWh or more battery to really go “off grid” to account for summer/winter difference. The typical america uses even more energy.

Don’t expect people to go “off grid”. They will use solar and batteries to get cheaper current until power companies start doing the same to save money.

How did you reach that number?

As an aside, I thought Straubel at least deserved an introduction by Musk at the Model X delivery. Of course, the audience knew who he was when he was standing there with his family (that was his wife and kids, right?), but it seemed like an introduction by Musk and heavy audience applause were called for. The audience would have gone nuts.

Musk should get some other speakers to help out. He’s a great guy but not the best public speaker.

Ego? Think back to the Jobs-era Apple. Who gave all those keynote presentations when Jobs was feeling well? He did most of them. It wasn’t until he wasn’t up to it that others stepped in. Now Tim Cook is a different person, and he bookends the keynotes but lets the product area senior management (Craig, Eddy, etc.) step up and present.

Tesla Motors has made a car, the Model S, that is highly desirable and in many ways better than fossil powered cars. JB made the point at the end of this video that they hope, with Tesla Energy, to make electric grids better than fossil powered grids. He also drew a parallel between deploying cellular telephone networks in emerging economies instead of land line telephone networks and deploying distributed renewable micro-grids instead of fossil powered central generation power grids. This is bold thinking that I’m sure will come to fruition.

Batteries can definitely start providing useful services like cellphones do.

For example, a remote location may have a power plant that is not quite big enough to provide the needed power. To remedy the situation, you could build another power plant or run a really long transmission line from another region. But instead, you could install a battery system that would charge up with extra energy available at night and then be available to handle larger loads that may too much for the current power plant. Time-shifting of the generation to match the load.

As to batteries, Lead Acid Vs. LiFePO4: my thoughts have need defined, articulated, and the numbers well analysed at – http://www.myelectricfly.com/whitepapers – first in a simple two page report comparing a 12V module with 17 Ah to a 40 Ah Thundersky cell, and if you take the 1 hour rating, the Lead Acid battery is quite hopeless in comparing the first cycle of energy to the Lithium cell, let alone over the full cycle life of it! There is also a 4 page report comparing Cyclon 2V Lead Acid Cells versus 3.2V Headway LiFePO4 cells. Basically, for EV’s – which the papers are written for, Lead Acid can not compete, in terms of $ / Wh, at the first cycle – never mind over the life time of the pack! And never mind on the per pound basis! Lead Acid Batteries, discharged just 20%, so as to get maximum cycle life (3000 cycles per this chart – https://www.altestore.com/store/descfiles/trojan/STD_cycle_life.jpg, and just 2000 cycles at a 30% discharge), mean that an L16 Battery of 6V x 320 Ah, will only give up 64 Ah, so it could be giving just 6 X 64 = 384 Wh, (Pushing for 30% discharge then, gives… Read more »