How Battery Technology is the Unrecognized Key Collaborative Age Enabler

We take for granted the small parts that power most of the devices we use – long lasting, rechargeable batteries. Still in some sort, battery technology is a key enabler of our modern way of life, and technology progress has been dramatic in that field. And more is to come as the total capacity of batteries increase and could change electrical power distribution overall.

Batteries, the unrecognized heroes of the Fourth Revolution

Batteries power all our portable devices, giving us freedom of movement like never before. Our devices become increasingly long-lasting and powerful, allowing us to work, entertain ourselves, and communicate from wherever we are. In a way they enable the Fourth Revolution by removing the constraint of localization close to a wired network. In Africa they power mobile phones which are the only way to communicate effectively. Battery-powered cars also become increasingly a possible mainstream technology for moving around.

There is more: Industrial Age electricity generation technology did not involve storage of power which required to maintain at all times, equal production and consumption on power grids, leading to issues as daily consumption is highly variable depending on the time, weather and day of the week. This is today a limit to the development of ‘green’ power sources as wind and solar power is highly variable and somewhat unpredictable. Increasing their share on the grid leads to substantial issues for the grid managers – sometimes adding more windmills requires adding more fuel and coal power stations to have extra capacity to cater for peaks in demand and slumps in production!

tesla battery
Batteries in everything – the Tesla car battery

With ambitions to build megafactories for batteries, that may change as well. Elon Musk’s announced strategic move to build a ‘Gigafactory’ is controversial. But the fact that the idea to increase production capacity (one single factory to produce more battery capacity than┬áthe current total worldwide production!) to lower the cost of batteries is in the air – and, provided the availability of raw material follows, will change significantly the landscape of power generation as well.

Batteries – the small, discrete technology that is changing our world more than we would ever realize!