Magazine March 23, 2020, Issue

Innovation and ‘New Energy’ 

Manufacturing lithium-ion batteries in a battery-research facility (Monty Rakusen/Getty Images)
Batteries are great, but we still need petroleum

To see the future of energy innovation, we need look no further than two iconic Silicon Valley inventions of our century: the Tesla and the iPhone. Both products were launched circa 2007 and catalyzed entire industries. And both were made possible by an energy-centric discovery. As the Nobel committee enthusiastically noted last year, neither would have been possible but for the discovery, a half-century ago, of the nearly magical value of lithium-battery chemistry. 

If it were not for lithium, a “fuel” tank for a single Tesla would weigh more than two entire cars. Odds are that parking lots in California today

Mark P. Mills — Mr. Mills, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, is the author of Digital Cathedrals: The Information Infrastructure Era.

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