Investment in battery technology revolutionizing energy transition


Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has released its Breakthrough Battery Technologies report, which shows that exploding investment in battery technologies is revolutionizing the sector much faster than expected and setting in motion a seismic shift in how we will power our lives and organize energy systems as early as 2030.

With funding pouring into battery technology companies, over $1.4 bn in the first half of 2019 alone, RMI found that the reality of a future energy system rich in renewables and electric vehicles (EVs) is closer than ever.

The RMI report shows the diversification of battery technology beyond lithium-ion has been made possible by robust private investment; governmental support of research and development; national-, city- and state-level electric mobility and renewable energy targets, as well as growing adoption of EVs.

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

“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 out-compete many fossil-fueled energy systems in the near term and can help us meet ambitious carbon reduction goals on or ahead of schedule.”

Key takeaways include:

  • Battery cost and performance improvements are quickly outpacing forecasts
  • These improvements spell trouble for natural gas and internal combustion engine vehicle markets
  • Lithium-ion, while still the leading battery technology, is likely not the universal solution of future energy storage technologies

Key opportunities:

  • National governments should find ways to incentivize component manufacturing, continued research and development, and battery deployment
  • Manufacturers should work to improve the technology in ways that can reduce cost and reveal new use cases
  • Investors should consider diversifying their portfolios across promising near-term technologies as well as pre-commercial battery technologies.

RMI’s Breakthrough Battery Technologies report makes evident that the United States, in particular, has an opportunity to either become a leader in battery technologies beyond Lithium-ion, or risk ceding ground to China and other major players globally.

In order to avoid this, the United States must prioritize investment and policies conducive to success now, or risk being pushed out of the market.

“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,” said Charlie Bloch, principal at RMI and coauthor of the report. “Climate progress can be supercharged if these groups stay aligned with each decision they make.”

To download the report, click here.

The developing trends and technologies in energy storage will be highlighted at POWERGEN Europe and European Utility Week in Paris from Nov 12-14. Click here for details

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