Berry on the Tesla Powerall and the growing demand for lithium.
May 18, 2015 — Chris Berry, co-editor of the Disruptive Discoveries Journal, founder of House Mountain Partners, LLC and Host for InvestorIntel in an interview with Tracy Weslosky discusses the recent Tesla Motors Powerall batter announcement, the energy storage market and the impact on technology metals.
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Tracy Weslosky: I think you’re probably the best person in the world to talk to about this big Tesla movement and the Powerall battery announcement last week. Can you talk to us about the impact on the market from this announcement?
Chris Berry: Sure. You know, Tesla has been rumored to be getting into what’s called the stationary battery movement for a long time as a compliment to the car business that they’ve really been pushing. They’re coming out with two types of batteries. One is more, I guess, commercial, larger in scale. The other one is for your home. I think the home one is about a 7 kilowatt hour. Just to put that in perspective the average American home uses about 30 kilowatt hours of energy per day. That gives you an idea of how the Tesla offering could potentially help or supplement energy use in the home. You know, I am glad that Tesla’s leading the charge, but there’s a lot of competition and there’s a lot of choices in the energy storage business, but it’s clearly a growing market that’s here to stay.
Tracy Weslosky: How is this going to impact lithium? I know you’re an expert on most of the technology metals, but lithium in particular comes to mind as we have had some big announcements with Cobre Montana and Critical Elements Corporation. Can you tell us what is going to happen to the demand for instance in lithium?
Chris Berry: Right now lithium is in demand as it is used in about 90 different products. When we focus on the battery though what we talk about is lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide. Lithium demand overall is growing is growing at about 8% per year. That’s a pretty conservative estimate. If you talk to some other folks in the space they’ll say it’s 10% or 11%. I’m comfortable with 8% right now. That obviously is because of the battery business. Whether or not its electric vehicles or storage or communications devices, like the iPhone, it’s really, really pushing it. What you’re starting to see is tightness in the lithium space. You’ve got a situation where the oligopoly, which is SQM down in Chile, FMC and Albemarle, the Chinese, all have different issues, different production issues. I think it’s an open question as to whether or not they’ll be able to meet this budding demand from the battery business in the coming years. That really opens the door for companies, like you mentioned, Critical Elements or some of the other ones like Western Lithium or Lithium Americas, the really de-risked plays in the space, to potentially contribute in the coming years.
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Tracy Weslosky is the CEO of InvestorIntel Corp., a company that publishes InvestorIntel.com. A leading source for investors, entrepreneurs and industry leaders alike, InvestorIntel is ... <Read more about Tracy Weslosky>