A battery material miner headed by global energy experts says the world is still a decade away from large batteries and renewables replacing baseload power.
Junior lithium miner ioneer, whose board includes the former chairman of lithium miner Orocobre, James Calaway; the former president of Shell, John Hofmeister; and the former head of Rio Tinto’s minerals and energy division, Alan Davies, said batteries and solar aren’t ready to replace gas or coal.
“Today, when people say you can apply lithium-ion batteries to create baseload from intermittent power they’re just not right,” Mr Calaway told Fairfax Media. “It’s too expensive. It’s a folly to think it will be a switch that just goes from one to the other. People can talk about intermittency, and how batteries will solve intermittency, it’s coming but we’re just not there.
“In order to turn solar into baseload power with batteries, you need $120 a megawatt hour for your power right now. Other than demonstration projects, highly specialised circumstances or something that is dealing with a slight load shift or specialised applications, we’re just not there.”
Mr Calaway said at his own solar and battery farms in Chile, the data is showing that the turning point for storage batteries won’t be for around another decade, but added there has to be a transition away from coal, “which will become increasingly objectionable.”