I invested in a cool company that I think could replace gas with batteries.
My main concern with these kinds of large appliance applications is battery longevity. How long will the batteries on that stove last after 1 year, 2 years, and so on? How easily can they be replaced?
Noah, speaking as someone who often disagrees with you because I have a more libertarian perspective, I have to applaud that you are putting your own money into this, not just advocating that taxpayers' money be used.
If the weight and size are not an issue, there is a role for these batteries to create fast chargers for EVs in one's garage and short-term power sources for homes experiencing blackouts. Our ground-mounted solar array is generating twice the power we're using year round (4X in the summer months), and we've been looking for a battery option to capture the excess power (that we're now sending to the grid) to serve both those roles. I hope they don't stop with stoves but advance to larger uses. Of course, cost will be key. And, as with all new products, reliability, ongoing maintenance, the availability of timely repairs when needed, safety and expected useful lifetimes will be issues to watch for and address.
Thank you for this article, though it does border on cheerleading for your friend’s company Impulse. ;-)
Perhaps you could follow up with an explanation of the environmental impact and costs of mining, refining, and transporting lithium from the places where we source it? Space and time allowing, you could perhaps then address the environmental impact of manufacturing batteries—including Powerwall, along with how long they will last, and how to recycle them.
This latter particularly interests me. How long will such batteries last? Do they degrade or lose recharging capacity at predictable rates? If so, over what time frame? Thereafter, are they simply to become landfill—that is, moving from the deserts of Bolivia to the deserts of, say, Arizona and Nevada? Does lithium then further degrade and affect groundwater? What trash haulers and even facilities would deign even to accept them at their size? How would a building owner or individual household go about removing them? Replacing them?
Then, perhaps later, as I appreciate along with you that these issues are not straightforward, you could compare these answers to the environmental costs of existing infrastructure—including nuclear generators. The arguments against nuclear power are obvious, but they are tired. They must be leavened with the reality of such plants having operated without fault or failure since a relatively small leak at Three Mile Island’s #2 generator more than a generation ago. Yes, Chernobyl. I get it. But Chernobyl used Russian technology far less advanced even than the technology adopted by the U.S. during the same period.
And, yes, nuclear power plants have become bargaining chips in Russia’s war in the Ukraine; I am not ignorant of long-tail risks. But presuming a stable political environment and no threat of foreign invasion by, say, Canada or Mexico (or China!), I think such risk can be ignored: if that happens the world is ending anyway!
With next-generation nuclear power plants apparently now able to use previously spent fuel rods, perhaps there is an option to explore smaller, even safer, micro- nuclear power plants that could without ongoing environmental impacts or health risks operate for decades. Or longer.
I know many get hives when they hear the dread word nuclear. The NIMBY syndrome also comes into play. But we live with nuclear now. In my state, Illinois, we get as 50% of our electrical power from nuclear plants; we’re the most nuclear-reliant state in the US. As of 2017, if Illinois were a nation, it would be the 10th largest nuclear power in the world: plants in the state generate more than ten percent of the nuclear power produced in the country. And we live with it. Ten reactors in Illinois are closer to Chicago than Chernobyl is to Kyiv.
In short, it’s worth being cognizant of where electricity comes from now and where it will come from in future, of the legacy systems in place that we live with, and that have minimal to no ongoing deleterious impact on the environment. If we can use recycled fuel rods, minimizing the effects even of existing uranium mining.
And let’s not ignore the environmental costs of manufacturing, supplying, installing, and maintaining solar panel arrays and/or wind turbines, which latter are not only unsightly but also are dangerous to avian wildlife.
I am neither an apologist for nuclear power, nor am I anti-Green. I favor any effort to improve the impacts we have on our environment, on human health, and on our natural world. But while I guess there is some element to speed of boiling water that could be considered attractive—to some, it doesn’t matter to me. What is more important is understanding the complete dimensions of environmental impacts, when purportedly advanced technologies are proposed.
BTW: While water is boiling on my stove now--which doesn’t take long, really--I can select my tea and fetch the teapot, cups, and cozy, measure out the tea, check my email on my Benedict Sun, text my wife, and heat the pot. So there’s that.
I know this post is well meaning but it reflects a lack on insight into the costs of batteries and their environmental impact. It would be very expensive for every household to buy battery powered high energy appliances sufficient for cooking and heating. This would further increase the already huge demand for batteries, which has resulted in prices now increasing. Because of advances in battery manufacturing 70% of lithium ion battery costs are for ingredient, which are now limiting and increasing in price. Thus lithium ion battery costs are unlikely drop further without a large expansion of mining, which will take some time. Lithium ion batteries have a substantial environmental impact because of the large amounts of minerals and energy required to manufacture them, and recycling is currently inefficient and energy intensive. It better for the environment and climate to have the grid provide reliable electricity 24/7 so that batteries can be reserved for light vehicle transport and low energy appliances. We can easily do this by using what is by far the safest and cleanest form of reliable energy, nuclear power. No, it is not more expensive than renewable, when you include the costs of dealing with intermittency and expanding the grid to accommodate solar and wind, which are not strongest in the places where people live. This is especially true when solar and wind penetration reach high levels of penetration as curtailment becomes frequent. If you disagree with this please explain why installation of solar and wind is correlated with increased electricity prices. It was the opposite when nuclear power was expanded in the previous century. I know you dislike nuclear and seem to think that because so many other people also dislike nuclear there is something badly wrong with it. You are discounting the highly effective multi decade misinformation campaign which has resulted in inappropriate fear of radioactivity and a very stringent regulatory regime. Do you know that the safe level for radioactivity exposure is 100 fold lower than the level shown to cause any harm? In comparison the safe level for pm2.5 air pollution is set ABOVE the level known to cause a 2% increase in mortality. That is why burning coal kills 1000 times more people than nuclear power, and yet people are more afraid of nuclear power. This is insane.
Very interesting. Just commenting: at the city level, the countercyclical effect of a million plugged-in EVs will arrive much sooner and at vastly greater scale. (But I hope the company and your investment outperforms!)
Hey, so this is a general category of thing I have been researching for awhile as a green-adopter homeowner and I even have my own Substack about it, thisgreenhouse.substack.com. End of plug.
Some things folks should know about this category of thing:
1. The battery-backed-stove market is already shaping up to be competitive, see channingcopper.com (I am *not* an investor in their company, at least not now; I heard about them through a relative and we are now on their pre-order waitlist)
2. If you, a homeowner, want to start greening and demand-time-shifting your home right now without major electrical work or appliance install cost, one thing to look into is a 120V heat pump water heater. This is a fairly recent innovation, HPWHs used to all be 240V, but AIUI there are now a couple of companies making 120V ones. The most well-known seems to be the Rheem ProTerra line. Water heating is typically a bigger source of gas usage than cooking, and the heated water acts as a thermal battery to time-shift electrical demand much as a Powerwall does.
3. An even bigger thing you should be doing if you haven't already is getting an EV and setting the EV and home charger up to be V2H ready, i.e. making it so that your car battery can be a backup for your house and a demand-time shifter. Again this is a recent-to-market thing, most EVs and chargers sold so far are sadly not V2H compatible but some of the newest ones are.
4. Also, when you get a heat pump to replace your gas furnace, see if it supports smart thermostat control that can help with demand-time shifting. And if you're in the market for *both* a new furnace and new water heater, check out Harvest Thermal, https://www.harvest-thermal.com/, which makes a combined heat pump system that uses a hot water tank as a thermal battery for both HVAC and actual water heating.
Interesting. How much of the importance of this is driven by the weak 120V standard electricity in the US? Anyone who has ever boiled a (electric) kettle knows that it takes ~twice as long when powered from a standard US outlet as it does from a standard UK (or EU) outlet. Standard UK outlets are 13A 240V, ie 3.1 kW; standard US outlets are 15A 120V, ie 1.8kW.
Obviously storage is still good, but I wonder if home-wide storage (like the Tesla PowerWall mentioned) is more appropriate here in Europe where we already have much more power in every wall socket.
Shouldn’t we inspect our assumptions here? Why do we need the power to boil water in 40 seconds? Is that value add really worth all the trouble with batteries or re-wiring?
This seems like a novelty luxury item, not at all a game changing idea.
And dude, no one wants to dry their clothes in 2 minutes. That’s a great way to ruin your clothes!
This sounds more like an idea that green energy folks would want to invest in rather than an idea to make successful products
A small correction. Most resistance (traditional) electric stoves will heat water faster than most gas stoves. Especially modern resistance electric stoves. It's a misconception that gas is faster than even traditional electric.
My wife will give up her gas cooktop over her cold dead body. She says it’s far more precisely controllable than any alternatives (and yes she’s tried them all). So I’d suggest you get some feedback from real consumers before you invest.
Interesting idea. Although why appliances? It just seems like a gimmick. You're talking about something that's intended for use with a solar system. Many solar systems (don't know what percentage) already have inverters and battery banks. If you've really got better batteries, why not just replace the whole bank instead of selling appliances?
The website is long on marketing but short on geekdom, so it's unclear if they actually have different battery technology (other than lithium). That could be a game changer. Do they, Noah? Or are we talking high power laptop batteries connected to a stove?
Making that many batteries of varying shapes and sizes emits much more CO2 than simply putting in more robust wiring and repurposing the old wiring
Is this just the stove and not the oven? I have a gas stove/oven combo. What do I do about the oven? I'm very skeptical that this thing is worthwhile.
I think I'd rather install a regular electric stove/oven and have a whole house battery setup. Even if that means running heavier gauge wire for 240v.
A few counterpoints on your article:
–The cost of connecting a 240V circuit for a new stove-top really depends on the configuration of the house. For a lot of houses, you could probably get away with 50' of 8/3 romex, a 40A breaker, a plug and 2 hours of an electrical work @ $80/HR. Which is, like, $500 or less, and you can knock out the electrician's cost if you do the job yourself.
–The battery performance will degrade over time, and likely won't be very effective by year 10, if not sooner. How many batteries won't be recycled? What if the company goes bust or stops supporting the product line and the batteries can't be replaced -- does the range need to be replaced then too? A lot of electric stoves/ovens will be perfectly serviceable for decades, with no updates/upgrades/repairs; which means there's a significant long-term financial downside to this appliance/battery concept.
–The key to demand response is not batteries, but signaling. How are millions of loads going to be controlled to balance power flow on the grid? Without an effective signaling and controls regime, all of the energy storage in the world won't net cheaper, cleaner electrical power, and right now utilities haven't figured out how to do this at scale. This is a completely under discussed topic, and it will be way more consequential than whether or not one particular type of load has, effectively, a local backup source. I'm skeptical that littering every big house load with small, localized backup power is going to be an efficient way to deploy energy storage from a grid-systems point of view. At the very least, there are economic and systems issues to study before getting too optimistic about products like these.
–If all you want to do is heat water quickly, why not buy an electric kettle?