Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

Elegant,Hand,Holding,Battery,With,Full,Of,Energy

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of technological adoption. At the same time, the world at large has become increasingly aware about more concerted efforts towards building a sustainable future. Towards these efforts, battery technology plays a critical role in the goal towards an energy transition: A critical component in decarbonizing energy in the long-run. Battery technology can also provide a critical back-stop for sustainable energy generation efforts.

Decarbonization efforts have received further impetus after the newly elected US President, Joe Biden, has made batteries a key component of his net neutrality strategy.  This will provide a further impetus to domestic battery product efforts in the US. Other countries too seem to realize the pertinent need to reduce dependence on Chinese and Korean battery imports.  Let’s delve deeper into how battery technology could enable a much needed global energy transition, based on insights from Forbes. 

Current state of battery technology

Worldwide, the most predominantly used battery technology is Lithium-ion or Li-ion.  Li-ion batteries are widely used because they have obvious advantages over the now obsolete nickel-cadium batteries: They have a higher energy density and do not have a memory effect, which causes nickel-cadium to lose storage capacity after continued cycles. 

However, Li-ion isn’t the ideal solution for the long run. Significant  deterioration occurs in Li-ion batteries over a period of time. For instance,  Li-ion batteries can only withstand upto a 1000 cycles until their capacity drops. The ageing of Li-ion batteries happens even if they are not in use.   The industry standard for Li-ion batteries is around $137 per kilowatt-hour, which makes them expensive to use. However, the cost of using Li-ion batteries has reduced by 90 percent, from its 2010 price of $1,100/kWh.  

The Li-ion battery technology still has scope for advancements but the technology is close to maturing, and one cannot expect significant advancements.  Nearly all electric vehicles (EVs) today use a Li-ion battery. Tesla, has its unique lithium-nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) chemistry, whereas the rest of the EV sector uses lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC). EVs play a significant role in the energy transition and decarbonization of the transportation sector. 

A $101/kWh price point is where EVs can become price competitive with internal combustion engines. However, it remains to be seen if further advancements can be made with Li-ion battery chemistry. 

Future is Solid-State

Many scientists consider solid-state-batteries as the next big thing in battery technology.  Solid-state-batteries could make the $50/kWh and below battery a reality.  Presently, the development roadmap for solid-state-battery technology is around 10 years away from becoming mainstream.  In 5 years from now, ~$800/kWh to ~$400/kWh could be the potential cost of solid-state-technology.

Solid-State-Batteries are exciting because they delineate a seismic shift in battery technology, which has conventionally been slow to evolve vis-a-vis other forms of technology. Like the name denotes, Solid-State-Batteries use solid electrolytes, which are non-inflammable and energy-dense. The very nature of this technology shall lead to safer battery solutions, better fast charging, and a long shelf-life. Also, unlike Li-ion batteries, Solid State Batteries can not only handle heat better but also operate at extremely low temperatures. This opens the doors to more widespread use-cases across industries and technologies.

Future outlook

Solid-State-Battery technology is a big breakthrough in battery technology. It could finally EVs on par or even help them better internal combustion engines when it comes to price.  It is also expected to act as an impetus for the clean energy transition around the world. 

In its current state, Li-ion batteries aren’t best suited for resource-utilization or safety.  Solid-State-Batteries not only address the challenges that Li-ion batteries pose but will also be a more sustainable future solution that addresses energy storage needs across industries and use-cases. Solid-State-Batteries present a future where there is significantly better energy conversion efficiency; reduced local emissions, less noise and GHG emissions with renewable energy sources. It’s a game-changer for battery technology.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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