Are There Alternatives To Lithium For Energy Storage?
As energy storage and new battery technologies continue to gain momentum, an October 2015 report published by Lux Research made a bold prediction. In a report titled, “The Next-Generation Battery Roadmap: Quantifying How Solid-State, Lithium-Sulfur, and Other Batteries Will Emerge After 2020”, analysts from Lux Research predicted that Lithium-based batteries would remain the best bet for energy storage in the years ahead.
The report also said that Lithium-ion batteries would retain its market leadership in the next decade and the next generation battery technologies beyond Lithium-ion would be worth close to $10 billion by the year 2030. “There is a lot of excitement around next generation batteries and some is justified, but we have to be extremely careful about which technologies and what applications because evolving lithium-ion is going to be tough to beat,” said Cosmin Laslau of Lux Research.
A recent report from Navigant Research predicts that the stationary storage market of Li-ion batteries (LIB) would grow from the current $775.4 million to almost $15.8 billion by the year 2024. Although U.S. is still a small player when it comes to LIB production, this is likely to change once Tesla’s upcoming Gigafactory begins its initial production, expected as early as 2017.
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Once this 35 Gigawatt per hour LIB production facility comes online in Sparks, Nevada, it will significantly increase the U.S. market share with respect to the global Li-ion battery production. Tesla’s Gigafactory would be instrumental in manufacturing Li-ion batteries for Tesla’s future battery packs and EVs.
Lithium-Sulphur is a promising option that offers reduced costs and higher energy density when compared with Lithium-ion batteries. However, Lithium-Sulphur batteries are yet to be commercialized. Sony Corp is said to be developing Lithium-Sulphur batteries and plans to commercialize them by 2020.
According to Nikkie Technology Online, by using Sulphur as an electrode, Sony is working towards expanding the energy density per volume of its existing batteries by around 40 percent to 1000 KW/L from the current 700 KW/L. Sony plans to use this technology to boost battery life of its mobile phones and robotics by almost 40 percent.
In fact, experts even predict that the Lithium-sulphur battery to match the reliability of Lithium-ion batteries in the next ten years from now. Analysts from Lux Research predict that the transportation sector (refer to the above figure) could turn out to be the biggest market for the Lithium-Sulphur battery in the near future, expecting the market to grow from $6 billion in 2030 to $29 billion by the year 2035. On the other hand, solid-state lithium-ion batteries could by that time capture market share in the electronics industry with an estimated market share of 39 percent and earnings close to $12 billion by 2035.