Do all the batteries on Earth store just 10 minutes of our electricity needs?

October 18, 2019
Category: TFCN,TFCN Feature
Kush Patel | MediaWise Teen Fact-Checker

MediaWise Rating: NEEDS CONTEXT

An Instagram post from the page 100xfact with more than 34,000 likes claims that “all the batteries on Earth store just 10 minutes of the world’s electricity needs.” This seemed a little suspicious, so here’s how we checked it out.

Start with a keyword search

After plugging the terms “how many minutes do all the batteries store of the world’s electricity needs” into Google, we found a few solid news sources.

According to a CNN article, Microsoft founder Bill Gates first made this claim during a 2010 TED Talk. “I went through and looked at all the types of batteries that get made — for cars, for computers, for phones, for flashlights, for everything — and compared that to the amount of electrical energy the world uses,” he says in the talk.

Gates also posted this claim on his Facebook and Twitter feeds in 2011. 

Who’s behind the information?

In both social media posts, Gates shared a link to his own blog post. In the post, he talks about the Liquid Metal Battery Corporation, a company developing a liquid metal battery, now called Ambri. The battery would “dramatically improve battery efficiency and provide large scale energy storage,” according to the blog post. But looking a little more closely, Gates writes at the bottom of his blog that he’s invested in the company. While he might be considered an expert, Gates also has something to gain from us sharing this info.

MediaWise reached out to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, but did not receive any answers. We’ll update you if word comes back

Our rating

Overall, this claim NEEDS CONTEXT. Going back to the original Instagram post, the post itself looks pretty fishy. The @100xfact account isn’t verified, it posts unusual facts about lots of different topics, and doesn’t specialize in electrical engineering. MediaWise DM’d the account Aug. 5 to ask where they got the original fact, but were left on “seen.” 

Bonus tips

When it comes to Instagram fact pages, always look for posts that list source information. It’s also good practice to check and see if the account is verified.