Blue Planet Energy Systems is helmed by Tetris entrepreneur Henk Rogers and started as an off-grid project for the founder in Hawaii. Rogers, the founder, is very clear on where he believes the future of battery chemistries is going.
The company builds LiFePO4 (LFP) battery energy storage systems, which it sells to installers. Rogers champions the safe and reliable performance of that energy storage chemistry for residential and commercial usage compared to the now-dominant lithium-manganese-cobalt-oxide (NMC) battery formulation.
“NMC is not benign” and has a history of volatility and fiery accidents, said Rogers. He adds that we don’t need “another nasty chemical” as we try to transition to clean energy. Rogers says NMC will be more expensive to transport and install, while “LFP will become cheaper.”
Wood Mackenzie has released an analysis predicting that LFP is poised to overtake NMC as the dominant stationary storage chemistry within the decade. At 10% of the stationary storage chemistry market in 2015, LFP batteries will comprise more than 30% of the market in 2030, according to Wood Mackenzie.
One factor driving LFP’s ascendance is the divergence between batteries used for storage and those used for EVs.
Catherine Von Burg CEO of energy storage system builder SimpliPhi, told pv magazine, “There’s a really critical factor that’s having an impact on the industry that may be hard to quantify at this point, or to appreciate. That has to do with the ongoing hazards: fires, explosions, etc., that continue to happen because of NMC, because of cobalt-based lithium ion chemistries.”
“Cobalt is fundamentally toxic and hazardous. It has a very dubious supply chain with child labor, warlord labor and all sorts of other problems.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has long been a proponent of removing cobalt from batteries and relying less on nickel. During a recent earnings call, Musk said, “Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way.”
Vanadium electrolyte for sale, cheap
Rogers talked shop about saving the planet, the future of energy storage in Hawaii, geothermal potential on the islands — and how a life-changing experience dictates how he tackles each day in this interview with Tam Hunt.
He said, “Batteries are good for short-term storage, like getting through the night on solar. For long-term storage they are too expensive. Hydrogen is the solution to long-term storage. You make it with excess energy or bio-waste (methane). You can store it in traditional pressurized gas tanks. It’s way safer than any fossil fuel.”
In Rogers’ search for an effective long-term energy storage technology, he gave vanadium flow batteries from Prudent Energy a try. Prudent Energy was acquired by China’s VRB, leaving Rogers with a number of 4-foot-cube tanks of vanadium redox electrolyte stranded on his ranch. They are available to a good home — make him an offer. Bring a trailer.
More from Rogers’: “Switching to renewable energy is not something we should want to accomplish someday. We should put our state and the whole country on a war footing. We should declare a state of emergency. We should declare war on Global Warming/Climate Change. Instead of paying people to do nothing during this pandemic, we should pay them to build Renewable Energy infrastructure. The Big Island should be a slam dunk. Electric vehicles to move people. Hydrogen vehicles to move containers, municipal vehicles and buses. I think we can get there in five years. All we have to do is ‘want to.'”
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