Major battery installations to accompany the electricity grid or the intermittent renewable generation of electricity (from solar or wind power) on or off grids are starting to appear, such as those in California, Australia and Germany. Meanwhile, the new generation of efﬁcient hybrid electric vehicles, with features that were only wishful thinking about ﬁve years ago, are arriving ― especially with smart 48-V or dual-voltage platforms. Both of these emerging applications are accelerating the growth prospects in capacity and value of the batteries to be used world-wide. The global annual battery market value of about US$100 billion in 2016 is heading higher at rates above annual GDP growth rates. The question is where best to participate proﬁtably in the apparent growth in energy storage. With high performance, many lithium batteries are claiming some of these applications, despite their higher costs and safety concerns in both operation and disposal. Claims about potential breakthroughs in specific energy, safety or recycleability emerge almost weekly, with multi-billion dollar investments to match. Some of these prospects are more likely than others to be realized and yield proﬁtable sales. Advanced lead–acid batteries that offer lower costs, full recycleability and unique power capability continue to present bankable savings to users across many applications and markets. On the other hand, the continuous modest improvements of the last 25 years have not proven sufﬁcient to compete with the new customer demands for the highest growth markets. Nevertheless, claims are still being made that much higher active-material utilization and improved dynamic charge-acceptance can be achieved through changes in recipe or core architecture. If substantiated, these advances may enable lead–acid batteries to rival the lithium alternatives in many applications at lower costs. Outside of advanced lithium and advanced lead battery improvements, further breakthroughs are have been reported in diverse ﬂow-based, nickel-based, sodium-based and other battery chemistries. Can any of these, thus far niche solutions, capture a credible slice of the growing energy storage markets is another question. The author of this presentation will give his opinion on the two best investment opportunities in terms of the regions/countries, the market sectors, the technology platforms, and even the companies involved.
Ray Kubis is a graduate of the University of Illinois and the University of Pennsylvania/Wharton School. His career started with General Battery in 1980 in Reading, and continued with Exide (after acquisition) with roles in purchasing, marketing, sales and operations. In 1991, he moved to Johnson Controls in Milwaukee. In 1996, Ray joined Hawker. This company was later acquired by EnerSys in 2002 and Ray became its President for Europe, Middle East and Africa. He returned to the USA in 2013 to assume the position of President of EcoBat. Ray semi-retired at the end of 2015, and now serves as Chairman of Gridtential Energy and as a Director of EcoBat Technologies.