The fragmentation of energy

It is super interesting how the changing inputs of one industry, can have a disruptive effect on another industry.

Mobile phones and laptops created the need for smaller more efficient batteries. We moved from Nickel in the 1980’s and 1990’s, then to Lithium Ion in the smart phone era. The batteries eventually became good enough to use on electric cars. It took silicon valley to notice this. And now that battery technology is being used to store solar energy in households. Renewables have always had a problem with storage and finally, the energy storage problem is getting close to being solved. When I say solved, I mean that the total cost of setting up power generation and storage off grid, is competitive with buying electricity the old fashion way. If we jump to another more efficient technology, which we usually do,  (the current candidate is Zinc Bromide Gel), we could all move off the grid within 5 years.

I know this sounds crazy, I know it is hard to believe that your days of paying for electricity could be over, but this is the law of accelerating returns in action. New advances are arriving quicker than our linear minds can comprehend. All our energy for our electric cars and households will come from the sun (the most direct fossil fuel) and we’ll store it at home. Bye bye grid, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

The energy grid

It’s another example of how technology fragments. The silver bullet is gone. Centralised business models are evaporating. The way it ‘was’ is not going be part of our economic future. What we’ve seen in the first 20 years of this revolution is production tools being handed over to the masses, disrupting the centralised model. The only way to maintain power and economic influence is to actually provide the tools of decentralisation to the end user. This is about to happen in energy.

In Australia we have 1.5 million households with solar panels. If all the energy they produce had in home storage, then this would already be a bigger energy source than the largest power plant in Australia. If we add the effect of Swanson’s law – solar panels 20% cost reduction as production doubles – then free energy will be as inevitable as free music was – only legal.

And this is where startups come in. Founders can see the truth in the future because they have no vested financial interest in the past. The biggest plays in technology disruption are yet to happen. It’s the start of the start, and what comes next is about to surprise everyone.

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