There is no question that behind that serious face on the US$100 bill, Benjamin Franklin was quite the character.
Franklin was a US founding father, politician, and inventor.
He was also fascinated by electricity. I mean, he famously flew a kite during a thunderstorm. But he was so obsessed that — as I recently found out — he once hosted an ‘electric picnic’.
During a warm April morning in 1949, Franklin met up with a bunch of his friends at the shores of the Schuylkill River near Philadelphia.
For entertainment, they ‘sparked’ spirits from one side of the river to the next using water as a conductor.
They drank from electrified bumpers. These were glasses that had been charged with static electricity and gave the drinker a shock in the lips — the type you get when you touch a balloon.
They played ‘treason’ — a game Franklin had invented where players had to grab a gold-plated crown from the top of a king’s portrait. The portrait was rigged, giving small shocks to anyone who tried to hold onto the picture’s frame.
Franklin even roasted a turkey using an electrical jack (one of his inventions) that used electricity stored in Leyden jars to rotate the turkey as it cooked over the fire.
Remember, this was the mid-1700s.
While at the time, Franklin was frustrated that he hadn’t found a way yet to use electricity for something more than fun and games, it’s pretty remarkable that he was able to produce and store his own energy.
Even today, most electricity comes from a centralised system.
But, of course, this is one of the great propositions of renewable energy: the ability to produce your own energy.
Something that’s becoming quite attractive for individuals, industry, and government as energy prices continue to spike.
Accelerating the EV rollout
Solar panels are a very common sight in sunny Australia, with more than three million solar rooftop systems installed as of 31 January. That is, about 30% of homes in Australia have panels.
Of course, those solar panels can do more than just power homes.
As Mike Cannon-Brookes mentioned last Friday during the EV Summit in Canberra (an event looking to accelerate electric vehicle adoption in Australia):
‘We have a huge ability to generate our own electricity as a country, both nationally in terms of industrial scale grid scale, but also individually.
‘We have the highest amount of household solar production. One of the things you see with electric vehicles is the propensity to install solar panels, it increases three or four-fold with an electric vehicle.
‘And you suddenly realise that … wait, I can make my own petrol and it’s very cheap to get it off my roof and stick it straight into my car.’
The summit also included announcements from Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen on fuel efficiency standards and increasing infrastructure to boost EV uptake. Bowen estimates that Australia is about 10 years behind Europe when it comes to EV policies.
There may be plenty of solar panels in Australia, but it’s not the same case for EVs…yet.
During the first half of the year, 9,680 EVs were sold in Australia, according to VFACTS. Tesla is by far the most popular EV, with almost half of its sales being the Model 3.
Yet while EV sales have more than doubled when compared to the first half of last year, at the moment, only about 2% of all new car sales are electric. That’s way below the 13% global average.
We could be on the verge of seeing an EV sales acceleration here.
Of course, more policies would boost EV stocks but also battery materials. And speaking of…
Goldman changes their tune
It’s no secret Goldman has been quite bearish on lithium.
In May, Goldman called the battery metals bull market ‘over for now’ and said they expected a ‘sharp correction’ in lithium prices.
Lithium is crucial for EV batteries, and the news shook lithium stocks off their highs.
But it seems now that Goldman has changed its mind.
In a note last week, Goldman told clients:
‘We expect battery and hydrogen storage solutions to continue to receive greater attention from investors, who we believe have not yet fully appreciated their importance in mitigating market disruptions.
‘Globally, we see several regulatory initiatives that could provide tailwinds to accelerate solutions such as battery storage and hydrogen to alleviate energy reliability issues.’
There’s a lot of money moving into renewables.
The US has recently passed the largest clean energy package in US history.
And there will be plenty more to come in the following decades.
By the way, we have several recommendations in the battery, solar, and EV space at New Energy Investor. So if you are looking to take advantage of the many opportunities emerging from the energy transition, you can find more details here.
Until next week,
For Money Morning