Widespread Investment in Lithium - Another Sign of the Bright Future of Batteries

by Anna Gretz
March 8, 2018
Home Battery

Investors around the world are pouring money into the lithium triangle region of Argentina. Why? The answer is in the name: Lithium.

Argentina is home to a handful of salt lakes that play host to a heavily concentrated, briney water that is housed below the Earth’s crust. This salty mixture is the perfect environment for the production of minerals, especially lithium.

But the process isn’t a quick and easy one. Pumping the brine from below the Earth’s surface, and allowing it to evaporate, can take up to two years. After the evaporation process is complete, the chunky, white substance left behind (mostly lithium, potassium, and boron) is sent to be processed and packaged. Mining lithium is serious work… but there are a lot of people that are serious about getting in on it.

Because of the growing interest in lithium, Chile, Australia, China, the US, and Canada have also jumped to develop more lithium resources. Since investors are so quick to support the growth of the global lithium supply chain, all of these regions have kicked efforts into high gear.

While all of this is going down, lithium stocks have seen a meteoric rise in the past few years, trading at all-time highs at the opening of this year. Investment blogs are steering readers toward participation in the lithium sphere both for this year and beyond. There’s considerable pressure being placed on the lithium supply chain, and it’s coming from a few different sources.

  1. The Automotive Industry. In the recent months, it’s been hard to miss the multiple announcements from big-name automotive companies that “going electric” is now part of the plan. Electric vehicle manufacturing is on the rise in a big way… and those batteries are depending on the lithium mining companies to deliver.

  2. The Energy Storage Sector: Households, businesses, and even utility companies are all demanding lithium on a greater scale to continue the unprecedented growth of the energy storage trend.

Both of these demands for more batteries have been significant (and exciting!), but the skyrocketing growth in the energy storage space has happened even faster than people expected, and doesn’t look like it’s slowing down. At all. GreenTech Media Research has projected that the US market will almost double their current total deployments of energy storage in 2018 alone--that’s more than 1,000 MWh MORE energy storage capacity on its way in the remainder of this year.

The energy storage market isn’t in its infancy anymore. This is a full-blown, full-grown industry now.

The steep decline in the price of solar has also fed into the need for batteries. Solar power generation is awesome (I mean, what could be better than harnessing the clean, free energy of the sun?) but it’s even better if you can store it. Energy storage solves the intermittency problem of solar energy--with a battery, you can use solar energy even after the sun goes down. This is why when people talk about solar, their starting to talk about storage, too.

Ravi Manghani, GTM Research’s director of energy storage, said,

“It’s not hard to imagine that every solar installment by the end of the year will include storage.” Solar and storage are just better when they’re together.

This is why so many investors are flocking toward opportunities to add lithium to their portfolio; the demand for batteries only continues to grow. But if mineral investment isn’t exactly your thing, you might want to make a different kind of investment in battery technology… one you can actually use.

Consider investing in your own home battery, and turning your household into its own energy fortress. This is especially true if you already have a solar power system.

Most people who have rooftop solar have a certain mismatch in their energy supply and demand. Think about it: when are solar panels generating the most power? When the sun is high in the sky… and you are likely out of the house. The arc of solar power generation is a steady, predictable rise and fall that corresponds to the rising and setting of the sun. The power usage in your home, however, follows a very different trajectory, with a small bump during the morning rush, and a predominant peak during the evening hours… when the sun is going down. Needless to say, they don’t match. Because of this, households with rooftop solar alone end up feeding most of the power they generate back into the power grid, keeping them dependent on your utility company to meet your evening power demand.

In fact, even though selling excess solar back to the grid will put cash or bill credit in your pocket, you will probably end up buying the same amount of energy back from the grid… but at a higher price. This is because many utility companies have started implementing “peak demand charges,” or higher prices when there’s a higher demand for electricity. The hours of peak demand are usually between 6 - 9 PM, when people are getting home from work, and the sun is going down. This means rooftop solar owners are going to be looking to the grid to supplement their energy supply as well… that is, if they don’t have a home battery.

Home battery owners don’t have to kiss their well-earned solar-generated electricity goodbye… they can store it on-site in a home battery, and have it ready whenever they need to use it. Home batteries act like an energy reservoir, storing up all of the excess energy under your roof, and keeping it there. It’s pretty awesome. Not to mention that this can be clean, free energy from the sun if you have solar panels installed. You can’t get a more ideal setup than that.

But even if you don’t have solar panels, a home battery can still be a lifesaver, quite literally. Short-lived power outages can be a pain, but prolonged periods without power can yield a downright dangerous outcome. Take a look at any area hit by a natural disaster resulting in a long-term power outage: after a few days, fresh food gets scarce, clean drinking water starts to dwindle, and anyone relying on electrical medical equipment is in really rough shape. Our lives depend on electricity, and when it’s not available, things go downhill very, very fast.

Home batteries can be used as a short-term back-up power solution for any home, giving you the peace of mind of real energy security. Home batteries don’t have to be charged up by solar panels--they can store power straight from the grid as well, giving you some stored-up power ready for use in the case that the grid goes down. The more home battery storage you have, the longer you’ll be able to maintain resilient power for your home, even when the grid goes completely dark. Unlike generators, home batteries provide seamless, silent energy that doesn’t harm the environment. It’s power you can feel good about.

Home batteries are small, indoor/outdoor boxes that can be installed on pretty much any residential property. Since the demand for residential and commercial energy storage is always rising, prices are dropping all the time. In fact, Swell has a program called EnergyShield, which offers a home battery plan that starts at just $1 a day. It’s a bundled package of premium black panel solar generation and a compact lithium-ion storage cell that provides total security for your home, no matter what happens.

Make your own investment in lithium, in the form of a battery that will put your power back into your own hands.