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Huge Battery Investments Drop Energy-Storage Costs Faster Than Expected, Threatening Natural Gas

Huge Battery Investments Drop Energy-Storage Costs Faster Than Expected, Threatening Natural Gas
The global energy transition is happening faster than the models predicted, according to a report released today by the Rocky Mountain Institute, thanks to massive investments in the advanced-battery technology ecosystem.

Previous and planned investments total $150 billion through 2023, RMI calculates—the equivalent of every person in the world chipping in $20. In the first half of 2019 alone, venture-capital firms contributed $1.4 billion to energy storage technology companies.

“These investments will push both Li-ion and new battery technologies across competitive thresholds for new applications more quickly than anticipated,” according to RMI. “This, in turn, will reduce the costs of decarbonization in key sectors and speed the global energy transition beyond the expectations of mainstream global energy models.”

Dawn of new renewable energy technologies. Modern, aesthetic and efficient dark solar panel panels, a modular battery energy storage system and a wind turbine system in warm light. 3D rendering.


RMI’s “Breakthrough Batteries” report anticipates “self-reinforcing feedback loops” between public policy, manufacturing, research and development, and economies of scale. Those loops will drive battery performance higher while pushing costs as low as $87/kWh by 2025. (Bloomberg put the current cost at $187/kwh earlier this year.)

“These changes are already contributing to cancellations of planned natural-gas power generation,” states the report. “The need for these new natural-gas plants can be offset through clean-energy portfolios (CEPs) of energy storage, efficiency, renewable energy, and demand response.”

New natural-gas plants risk becoming stranded assets (unable to compete with renewables+storage before they’ve paid off their capital cost), while existing natural-gas plants cease to be competitive as soon as 2021, RMI predicts.

RMI analysts expect lithium-ion to remain the dominant battery technology through 2023, steadily improving in performance, but then they anticipate a suite of advanced battery technologies coming online to cater to specific uses:

Heavier transport will use solid-state batteries such as rechargeable zinc alkaline, Li-metal, and Li-sulfur. The electric grid will adopt low-cost and long-duration batteries such as zinc-based, flow, and high-temperature batteries. And when EVs become ubiquitous—raising the demand for fast charging—high-power batteries will proliferate.

Many of these alternative battery technologies will leap from the lab to the marketplace by 2030, the report predicts.

Some of these changes will be driven outside the U.S., specifically in countries like India, Indonesia and the Philippines that prefer smaller vehicles. Read More: Why The U.S. Will Lag Behind The Global Transition To Electric Vehicles.

RMI analyzed the four major energy-storage markets—China, the U.S., the European Union and India—and found two major trends that apply to each: 1) “Mobility markets are driving the demand and the cost declines,” and 2) “the nascent grid storage market is about to take off.”

China dominates the market for electric vehicles and solar photovoltaic technologies, thanks to early, large and consistent investment. The RMI report notes that China also has an advantage in upstream ore processing, critical materials and component manufacturing.

The report does not, however, explore what happens should China weaponize those advantages in the trade war, restricting or embargoing imports of critical materials to the U.S.

“An expanded trade war looms large over all industries and the entire global economy and is not in the interest of either the U.S. or China, and it is unproductive to speculate on the potential scope or outcomes of a battery or minerals-related action,” two of the report’s four authors, Charlie Bloch and James Newcomb, told me in an email.

“China is no doubt aware of the long-term economic opportunity associated with being a reliable manufacturer of batteries and the risk that escalating trade war actions by either side could damage the US-China economic relationship in this important area.”

They added that manufacturers, investors, start-ups, and government officials are taking steps to mitigate the potential impact of such a risk, such as continued development of low- and no-cobalt batteries chemistries.

For more about China’s hold on critical minerals, read 4 Reasons The Developed World Is In Big Trouble With Critical Minerals.


Source:  Forbes




From IEEFA: 

Clean energy demand is fueling need for batteries, lots of batteries

pv magazine:

In the U.S. and globally, the increasing demand for clean, renewable sources of energy is fuelling the need for batteries. Energy storage systems (ESS) are powering this global clean energy transition, many of which feature batteries as an integral part.

The U.S. energy storage industry broke national records for deployments in 2018. But 2019 and 2020 will continue this ground-breaking trend, with an expected doubling and tripling in U.S. deployment of energy storage projects respectively. By the end of this year, global solar power capacity alone will have risen to more than 26 times the 2009 level – this works out as enough electricity to power 100 million homes in the US annually.

The importance of batteries in powering this growth is reflected by Bloomberg NEF’s estimates of global investments in batteries amounting to $843 billion by 2050. Market analysts Avicenne have predicted more than double the growth of batteries needed for energy storage applications between 2015 and 2025 – from 100,000 MWh to over 400,000 MWh.

And as the electric vehicle revolution continues apace, with 120 million EVs on the road by 2030 in the U.S., the E.U. and China, the role of batteries will be ever-more important.

And not just lithium batteries. Demand is set to be so substantial that one battery technology alone cannot be expected to meet it. Lithium technology will of course be a central player, and advanced lead batteries are the only other technology available on a mass-market scale that meet the technical requirements for automotive and energy storage applications.

Virtually every car, from start-stop and hybrids to full electric, contain a lead battery. Improving dynamic charge acceptance (DCA) by 5 times by 2022 to 2 Amps/Ah will maximize the performance of advanced lead batteries in the ever-increasing number of vehicles powering the electric vehicle revolution.

And as global connectivity joins clean energy and clean mobility in ushering in a brighter future, the dawn of 5G will see lead batteries playing a central role for UPS and telecoms in supporting new mobile networks and infrastructures.

The Consortium believes the potential of lead battery technology has not yet been fully exploited, and our industry will continue to advance and innovative to ensure ambitious carbon reduction goals are accomplished.

More: In the future there will be batteries, lots of batteries



Solar and wind continue to gain cost advantages over traditional U.S. power generation

Bloomberg News:

Over the past year, the cost of generating energy from wind projects fell by 4% and large solar projects by 7%.

The levelized cost of any particular energy technology is the break-even price that companies investing in that technology need in order to see a competitive rate of return. In the case of both utility-scale solar and onshore wind power, this rate has dropped to about $40 per megawatt hour — which is lower than the cost of building new power plants that burn natural gas or coal.

Many forces have brought about this change, including steady improvements in technology and reductions in capital costs. And while the rate of decline has slowed a bit lately, especially for onshore wind (now dropping about 7% a year), costs for solar power at large-scale have continued to fall rapidly (about 13% a year) for the past five years.

These trends are even starker when you take into account federal incentives for renewable energy. With government subsidies, the average costs of onshore wind ($28 per megawatt hour) and utility-scale solar ($36/MWh) are roughly equivalent to those of coal and nuclear generation ($34/MWh and $29/MWh, respectively). With the federal incentives, building new wind and solar facilities makes more sense than continuing to run old coal and nuclear plants. That is to say, we can reduce fossil-fuel consumption without undue economic disruption.

More: Wind and Solar Power Have Become Amazingly Affordable

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