This blog is focused on trends in battery technology and other types of energy storage that are used for smart grid load leveling and stabilization, and as back-up power for renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics/solar power, hydro and wind energy. Trends in lithium ion batteries, lead-acid, metal-air, NaS (sodium sulfur), ZnBr (zinc-bromine) batteries will be covered, as well as compressed air energy storage (CAES), flywheels, fuel cells and supercapacitors.
Over the past few years, the automotive industry has increased its focus on the electric vehicle (EV) market by successfully introducing several new plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles as the process of moving away from petroleum based fuels and toward battery power intensifies. These vehicles will rely almost exclusively on lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries, while hybrid vehicles will slowly switch from nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) technology. While the cost of Li-ion batteries is gradually declining, cost still represents a significant hurdle as it accounts for a large portion of total EV cost.
The government subsidies that gave the initial impetus to the electric vehicle market will continue to drive the market in the near term. However, significant reductions in battery cost are imperative for the industry to grow to the $14.6 billion and 28 million kWh market that Pike Research forecasts by 2017. Nearly half of the demand is likely to come from Asia (led primarily by China) while Europe and the United States are likely to constitute 25% and 21% shares respectively.
There are currently more than half a dozen battery chemistries with unique properties for power, energy density, and life cycle performance that are being commercialized. While there is no chemistry that emerges as the clear winner (owing to the tradeoffs in the various properties), initial indications point to a greater interest in the lithium iron phosphate chemistry in the years to come due to its superior performance characteristics coupled with increased safety.
A new report from Pike Research outlines the critical role that governments around the globe will play in establishing the electric vehicle market, and the challenges that manufacturers face in creating an industry that will be able to stand on its own as government influence diminishes. The study examines the key market drivers for the electrification of vehicles, the status of the R&D in batteries, the impact of declining battery production costs on vehicle sales, and the resale of batteries after their useful life in vehicles.