Lithium, EV Batteries and your Electric Utility
Known as the “Saudi Arabia of Lithium”, Chile is believed to have one of the largest and most accessible reserves of lithium on the planet. This is important for battery manufacturing and the electric vehicle supply chain. More readily accessible lithium means more batteries at potentially lower costs in the race to extend drive range and vanquish the scourge of range anxiety sooner rather than later. Tesla’s Elon Musk arrived in Chile earlier last week creating rumors about what this mean for the Tesla specific supply chain. The impacts on improved battery life and efficiency are the hot topics of the day with battery density and efficiency improving quickly year over year. But as battery technology improves in electric vehicles what are the impacts on the electric utility industry that constitutes such an integral part of the EV equation?
Until energy storage systems are ubiquitous and more affordable, your electric utility is your best friend when it comes to charging your EV’s battery. Level 1 and 2 chargers are the most common options for home charging with fast charging stations available in certain public areas. As battery technology becomes more advanced, and as charging infrastructure responds accordingly, drivers will be able to charge their vehicles in less time than before. In some cases that will result in lower electric costs to charge your vehicle for the same or greater distance traveled. This will also necessitate better forms of power delivery and an increase in level 2 or greater charging. As batteries decrease in size, increase in capacity and become more advanced overall, utilities will have to adjust their rates and tariffs including demand charges accordingly, to adjust to the influx of EV technology entering the grid. Lithium will continue to play an important role in pushing battery technology beyond the current plateau but on thing is for certain; your local utility will need to be a willing partner for the generation and storage ecosystem to enable it to climb to greater heights in the future.