Batteries are serious business. Although their impact might come as a surprise to some of the people reading this, batteries are an essential part of what makes modern society work. Batteries power everything from cars to phones in 2019, and soon even more will be powered by batteries if we reach a future based on renewable energy.
This has led to something of an arms race between the various countries in an effort to produce the next big thing in the battery world. Some of the world’s smartest and most innovative nations have decided to give their best scientists a shot at revolutionizing the world. The big question is whether North America, that is Canada, USA and Mexico are winning or loosing this battle. Will the region be an industrial power house or loose all competitive advantages as in the solar panel industry?
Twenty years ago, batteries were just something that people placed in flashlights. Maybe they were also used for cordless radios. This all changed with the advent of the digital age. From Apple’s iPhone to the wireless Beats headphones that Dr. Dre is always selling, batteries are now being used at a scale that they have never been used before. If one is using an electronic device and that device is wireless, it is running on battery power.
The battery that everyone is using to power their devices is made with lithium-ion. It is an old technology that has been around for many decades, although it has been heavily refined in recent years to keep pace with the current tech boom that has changed the world.
The days of lithium-ion are numbered. No technology is irreplaceable. Better alternatives that are capable of holding more energy are currently being sought out by the governments of South Korea, Japan, China, Germany, and the United States.
As batteries are increasingly used in modes of transportation, the quest to find the future super battery has become more intense. The current world paradigm is largely based on who has access to oil. The United States is the world’s largest oil producer and also happens to have global hegemony.
When the battery of the future is invented, it will change the world. Not only will people be able to build things that they have never built before; but whoever builds these revolutionary batteries will have power that is currently concentrated in oil-rich nations. For this reason, most of the world is racing to see who can invent a better battery. Whoever creates the next breakthrough battery will become a technological and economic leader who is recognized world-wide. Some people and countries still think oil and coal are the right way forward and are thus risking the technological supremacy of their countries.
As we have stated in many previous articles, regulation can lead to innovation. Early arrivals in a certain market segment can build a strong and competitive industrial platform. North America can go a long way and make sure they are the industrial power house for new batteries. The three countries combined have access to the most innovative technology and almost unlimited venture capital in the USA and Canada, and the globally most competitive lithium and graphene mining in Mexico. As the automotive industry has proven, the three countries combined can have a world class industrial platform that outranks all other regions regarding competitiveness.
So what could we regulate that could provide a boost to this sector?
Here are a few examples:
- For environmental reasons Mexico City wants to install a million solar roof tops, combined with batteries this would create a 50 MW virtual power plant and help stabilize the electric grid in one of the world’s largest urban areas.
- TESLA taught the world and specifically the car industry what a great thing an electric car is. Tax and environmental regulations together can boost the market for electric vehicles providing a car advantage to all local car and component manufacturers.
Manufacturing likes to be present in a large market and engineering tends to follow manufacturing. These industries are strategically important for the future development of the North American region. Let’s make sure that shortsighted interests and lack of technological understanding does not turn this region into an import only market.