US and South Korea invest in lithium ion batteries

Governments around the globe are showing a commitment to clean energy initiatives by establishing policies and budgeting for research and development in lithium battery technologies. As these technologies are commercialized, especially in the electric vehicle sector, the lithium market is poised to see an increase in demand in the future.

Building on earlier lithium market themes, the United States Department of Energy has recognized a private company with initiatives to develop advanced lithium batteries. Last spring, the US launched “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator Challenge” in an effort to facilitate the commercial production of innovative and promising technologies based on government funded patents and research. With more than 40 companies signing option agreements to license the cutting-edge technologies, the United States’ strong commitment to clean energy remains a cornerstone of the current policy direction.

Vorbeck Materials is one of the most recent companies to enlisted in the program. The company is attempting to develop a method for building nano structures to enhance lithium battery performance. The small firm is licensing a patent from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to develop better lithium air and lithium sulfur batteries. According to the company, the proprietary content of their lithium battery stores twice the electricity at high charge as current lithium-ion batteries, improving battery capacity and enabling longer cycle life.

South Korea government launches a green car forum

The South Korean government is budgeting $345 million for the research and development of high performance lithium batteries and other related systems over the next three years. A green car forum has been established to create a strategy involving large scale production of small-sized electric vehicles this year and mid-sized electric vehicles within 2 years. The ambitious expectation is to replace up to ten percent of the nation’s small-sized passenger cars with electric vehicles within 3 years and turn South Korea into the world’s fourth largest electric vehicle market. Tax concessions remain a significant component of the plan with consumers receiving subsidies worth as much as $3,600 beginning next year.

South Korea launched a $65 million program initiative last year consisting of a fully integrated residential smart grid system. This smart grid system should make electric vehicle ownership more attractive from a consumer perspective. The country is anticipating a national program to incorporate smart grid technology and storage application nationwide by 2030.

Pike Research indicates growth for electric vehicle telematics

“Electric Vehicle Telematics” is a new report analyzing the market for telematics used in electric vehicles. The Pike Research report estimates that annual revenue from worldwide sales of electric vehicle telematics will total $1.4 billion by 2017. According to the report 90 percent of electric vehicles sold include a basic telematics package, and that percentage will likely grow to 94 percent within six years. Telematics systems can provide a variety of functional and relevant information for drivers to connect and communicate. This can involve simple data connections for emergency services, charging equipment locations, and diagnostic monitoring. With a gradual increase in electric vehicle adoption rates the functionality of telematics will also increase. Pike believes telematics will play a significant role in the smart grid by communicating with utility operators to anticipate the location and duration of electric vehicle charging. These advancements will improve efficiency of grid loads and charging times and ultimately help utilities manage the grid.

Potential overall boost for lithium industry stakeholders

Lithium producers could see demand increase as technology improvements and government policies combine to enhance electric vehicle adoption rates. As the underlying price for lithium increases in response to demand pressures, additional junior lithium properties will find financially successful business models to enter commercial production.

Dave Brown,