Battery technology improvements outpacing forecasts


Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has released a new study which investigates the pace at which battery technologies are being revolutionised and the role they are playing in the energy transition.

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According to the study Breakthrough Battery Technologies report:

  • The prices of battery technologies continue to fall, investments to further innovate the technologies continue to grow and performance is improving faster than predicted.
  • In the first half of 2019 alone, over $1.4 billion has been invested to improve battery technologies.
  • Owing to improvements in technologies, the ‘reality of a future energy system rich in renewables and electric vehicles is closer than ever’. The breakthroughs in battery technology improvements will enable humans to power our lives using renewables as early as 2030.
  • By aligning public and private sector efforts to revolutionise the industry, the US will become a leader in the battery industry, reveals the report.
  • The diversification of battery technology beyond lithium-ion is being made possible by robust private investment; governmental support of research and development; national-, city- and state-level electric mobility and renewable energy targets and growing adoption of EVs.
  • Factors driving the growth of the battery energy storage market include increasing demand for EVs, grid-tied storage, and other emerging applications.

RMI forecasts the capital costs for new planned battery-manufacturing capacity to drop by more than half from 2018 to 2023.

Lithium-ion is likely not the universal solution of future energy storage technologies. Technologies enabling long-duration energy storage, heavy trucking, aviation and EV fast-charging infrastructure will increasingly drive these emerging battery markets.

Madeline Tyson, a senior associate at RMI, said: “We can now say with confidence that the age of affordable battery technology is coming, and it’s happening faster than anyone expected.

“We’re incredibly excited about what this accelerating pace of change means as we fight the climate crisis. Advanced battery technologies have the power to outcompete many fossil-fueled energy systems in the near term and can help us meet ambitious carbon reduction goals on or ahead of schedule.”

Charlie Bloch, principal at RMI and co-author of the report, adds: “It’s crucial that the investor, policymaker and regulatory ecosystem stay ahead of the curve on battery cost and technology developments in order to fully capture the enormous environmental and economic opportunities to be had.

“Climate progress can be supercharged if these groups stay aligned with each decision they make.”