After 20 years of working on technical and commercial approvals for major energy projects, I can confidently say that when it comes to predicting energy consumption, there’s only one thing that matters – the delivered cost per unit of energy. Dollars paid per kilowatt hour ($/kWh) by the end user.
We can endlessly debate the merits of different energy sources. Many do. But what gets measured gets done and for the most part, people measure what they value with money.
Ten years ago, headlines proclaimed that “one dollar per watt” solar would be the end of fossil fuels. That day came and went. Today, it’s possible to buy solar panels for 30c per watt and yet fossil fuels are still going strong.
The problem of course is that a unit of energy must be *delivered*. It needs to be stored and transported to a consumer when and where they want it.
Our current fuel station and electrical grid infrastructure was designed to support thermal power storage and generation. And despite being able to generate solar energy cheaper than coal it still has to be distributed and stored in order to compete on an absolute $/kWh basis.
Ideally we’d generate and store energy where a customer needs it. Without taking up precious land and without having to pay transmissions costs.
Iron Matrix was specifically designed be a building and a solar farm for less than the cost of a building alone. We can generate electricity this way for as little as 16c per kilowatt hour. That’s about half the cost of Australian retail electricity. But the problem is, and always has been……. storage.
But no more.
Improvement in battery technology has been a slow burn but finally, in 2019, we’re able to buy lithium cells for the magical price of US$150/kWh. And they have a cycle life and depth of discharge that can deliver a kWh for less than 14 cents.
The combined cost of 16c for generation and 14c for storage where and when a customer wants it …. is a genuine game changer. Grid price electricity without the wires, without the bills and you get a building for free.
What’s even more encouraging is that the price of batteries still has a long way to fall.
Mark 2019 as the beginning of the beginning. An era when being able to access low cost energy, anywhere on the planet is going to unlock massive potential, especially in remote areas and the developing world. This will be the most exciting year ever.