General Electric (GE) sees the world of batteries two ways, power and energy, according to Steve Fludder, VP of their alt-energy business, who spoke at a Goldman Sachs conference yesterday. GE has bets placed in both categories, but Fludder indicated that he thinks GE will be able to dominate the energy business.
In the power category, there’s lithium batteries, which are used in personal electronics, and for now are being used in electric cars. Lithium ion is good on power, says Fludder, but for range its wanting. GE owns 10% of A123, a battery company that has agreements with Chrysler to develop car batteries.
In the energy category GE thinks sodium batteries, are going to be the future for storing power. GE announced plans to put $100 million towards building a plant in New York which will manufacture sodium batteries. The primary purpose will be for batteries in the hybrid locomotives, but Fludder says the batteries could be used for utilities for storage.
This would be an enormus business for GE if it works out, and even bigger deal for fans of solar and wind power. One of the biggest things holding back wind and solar is energy storage capacity. When the wind’s blowing hard, it’d be nice to be able to hold on to the energy for times when the air is still.
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