‘Even if engineers were able to double or quadruple battery efficacy, that still would not come near.’
Mark Mills writing in the Spring issue of the New Atlantis:
While a barrel’s worth of oil weighs just over 300 pounds and can be stored in a $40 tank, to store the equivalent amount of energy in the kind of batteries used by the Tesla car company requires several tons of batteries that would cost more than several hundred thousand dollars. Even if engineers were able to double or quadruple battery efficacy, that still would not come near to closing the performance gap between energy from wind and energy from liquid hydrocarbons for transportation.
These stark facts often elicit the response that the alternative technologies will get better with time and scale. Of course they will. But there are no significant scale benefits left, since all the underlying materials (concrete, steel, fiberglass, silicon, and corn) are already in mass production. Nor are there big gains possible in the underlying technologies given the physics we know today.
This piece originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal's Notable & Quotable
Mark P. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a faculty fellow at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering. In 2016, he was named “Energy Writer of the Year” by the American Energy Society. Follow him on Twitter here.