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Photo: J. Belmont, Merriam, KSĀ 

Become the first trillionaire

Delicious ideas begin with eye popping big numbers. A provocative example arrived this week for any of you who aspire to be the first trillionaire.

FORTUNE MAGAZINE writes of a $1.2 trillion dollar business opportunity awaiting some future Steve Jobs. The future Steve and his company could earn $110 billion dollars annual profit on annual sales of $1.2 trillion, according to the article. That’s close to $500 million per business day). In a year he, or you could be the wealthiest person in the world. For me on a fixed income, half a billion dollars sounds like pretty good pay for one working day.

This road to El Dorado is electric batteries. For the less ambitious entrepreneurs, Fortune suggests you can make a couple of shekels with “Energizer Bunny” batteries. You make bit more with car batteries as the auto industry moves from petroleum to lithium. Elon Musk and his Tesla gigafactory sells a growing number of plug of car batteries.

But if you are to reach the top of the .01%, if you really wish to look down your nose on Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, you’ll need a battery company that figures out how to reliably store sustainable juice for the national grid. I’m not talking of peddling batteries to a few U.S. electric utilities. It’s the whole voracious, energy sucking world is crying out for giant batteries. The market is colossal and demand is growing.

Wind and solar electricity costs fell 70% in the past decade. They are now headed down below the price of fossil fueled electricity. The problem is storage. No way we’re going to allow an interruption in the grid just because the sun goes down and wind is still. You can’t let traffic lights black out, the elevators halt and the Super Bowl vanish from the TV. Nor can we go back to wrist powered tooth brushes or hauling blocks of lake ice in to the icebox/refrigerator. To keep the lights on and win this race, we must find a way to store electrons on an industrial scale.

The battery game winner has not crossed the finish line yet, but there’s lots of buzz. Market demand is already there, venture capitalists and lenders are keyed up to finance and early movers are working up designs. SK Innovation belongs to one of Korea’s largest conglomerates and is diving into batteries. Amprius Inc of Sunnyvale California and Wuxi, China; plus Vionx Energy, and Ionics Materials of Woburn, Ma. are all grappling with how to pull the industry together. For the person who can do so there’s a heap of financial rewards as well as bragging rights that you changed the warming world and lowered costs.

Categories: Humor

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