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December, 28, 2016 Reading List: The Powerhouse by Steve LeVine

The Powerhouse: America, China, and the Great Battery War


Few books are as timely and relevant to the current clean energy transition as Steve LeVine’s book on the global race to win the lithium-ion battery war, a gripping account of invention, commerce, and duplicity in the age of technology.”  


Many do not realize that at the core of a world run on intermittent, sustainable energy sources still lies a yet-to-be-solved issue: economic energy storage. And at the core of economic energy storage lies the lithium-ion battery. It is the technology electric vehicles depend on, the technology increasingly deployed as stationary storage in residential and commercial buildings, and the technology Tesla has made a $5 billion bet on with it’s giga-factory in NevadaUntil further notice, lithium-ion batteries are the most promising path to economic energy storage at global scale, and are therefore the key to a truly sustainable energy future.


What many also do not realize is that America is not alone in pursuit of unlocking the great economic potential of advanced lithium-ion batteries, and there is no guarantee we will win.  In a sort of modern day space race, China, Japan and others are pushing just as hard to crack the battery code, hoping to cash in on its limitless economic bounty. If the 20th century energy landscape was won by wildcatting prospectors taking big risks, the 21st century energy landscape may be won by those who develop the most powerful, cheapest batteries.


I found this book to be a fascinating, insightful peek behind the curtain of how technologies really advance, and the role hype, hurdles and humans play in the process.


As the Wall Street Journal states, “Mr. Levine has written something like a a thriller. Above all, “[This book] is the story of a race among top U.S. scientists, Silicon Valley visionaries (and shysters), and rivals spanning China, Japan and elsewhere…There is plenty of fodder here for both enthusiasts of new forms of energy and those wary of the hype.


Definitely worth your time. Check it out here:

The Powerhouse: America, China, and the Great Battery War.


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