Last week, I attended The Battery Show in Novi (Detroit), MI. When I volunteered to write this summary, not realizing it would turn into perhaps my longest blog post ever, I was grappling with the question of what is the business case for advanced energy storage and why do we go to these events.
The Battery Show, in its third year, is a three day, technical event for advanced energy storage battery users from a broad range of industries. It is definitely shaping up to be the industry's the premier conference for battery customers, designers, professional service and testing providers, and manufacturers of advanced energy storage systems as well as peripheral components such as inverters and motors. Held from September 17th through 19th this year, while the show’s roots are in xEV energy storage and propulsion systems, the show finally succeeded this year in showcasing a wide range of products, services and viewpoints. Combined with the Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo as well as a free one-day Charging Infrastructure Conference held on Wednesday and several technical forums, my only complaint was that I could not attend it all.
The first day of the show, after being asked to fill in last minute to speak which I accepted, I was asked to provide a picture of me in a xEV as part of the xEV “Wall of Fame” (sponsored by Bitrode/Sovema). Despite many photos I have accumulated through my 17+ years working in the advanced propulsion and energy storage industry and a HEV owner, I struggled. I was on a calibration trip in Colorado and we had just mastered EV drive mode through regenerative energy capture. I was climbing Pikes Peak in my first “sputnik” moment in what we affectionately named “stealth mode” with our vehicle’s torque wheel antennas protruding like horns of the side of the vehicle knocking when I came across a mountain goat. Well, I guess my vehicle looked like another mountain goat in camouflage white and he proceeded to charge my vehicle driver side door (window open) at a high rate of speed. I had about two seconds to take out my cell phone and snap a picture (as proof). Later while waiting for the tow truck, I had to explain to an executive director how I managed to put such a large dent in a $350k+ test vehicle after 2 months on the job. I was on the “troublemaker list” for a long while. And while I can still play out that conversation word for word, what still amazes me to this day is that we were able to climb that peak in “stealth mode” and fool nature – be green. About 4 years and several trips later, the vehicle was successfully released.
While many of us may disagree on what we take home from a trade show like this, depending on whether we come from an automotive, industrial, medical, commercial or military background, I would like to think that the one common thread from this year’s show was the need to work together for safety and sustainability. The industry is on the cusp of an energy storage “wheel invention” moment and advanced energy storage is here to stay. With all the buzz of “the Internet of Things in Motion”, and the demand for “the Internet of Things”, we have accelerated energy consumption in a way that no other revolution has ever has. While there is not a clear winner for every application, Lithium-ion is clearly here to stay for a long while and has great potential in a lot of applications, perhaps even second life. And that’s exactly why we go to these events—to learn about trends, see customers, further expose Palladium Energy to the battery world and keep ahead of the industry and its driving applications. Perhaps we should be pooling our resources and finding solutions that work together. Looking forward to attending The Battery Show in 2014…
Monika Minarcin, senior business development manager