Battery makers will need to work as part of “innovative ecosystems” to successfully launch new technologies onto the market, according to a new report.
The report by consulting firm Arthur D Little said “no single company will be able to come out on top without the support of an intricate and dynamic innovation ecosystem made up of partners, start-ups and institutes”.
But with a vast number of next-generation technologies under development for large potential markets, the report warned it is “easy to bet on the wrong horse… and many of today’s new entrants and investors will be disappointed”.
However, Little said the increasing reliance on battery storage is “driving enormous demand”, with battery applications overall expected to become a $90 billion-plus market by 2025, up from $60bn in 2015.
According to Little’s analysis, three possible scenarios will dominate the mid-term battery technology industry. The scenarios are: unforeseen technology “steals the show” (low probability); the current generation of lithium-ion prevails (medium probability); a new Li-ion generation emerges (highest probability).
Little said the “highest probability” scenario is down to the current generation of lithium-ion technology keeping is “dominant position— but eventually next-generation Li-iontechnology will attract sufficient investment to make it a viable alternative”.
“The hottest candidate, the solid-state electrolyte Li-ion battery, will need to surpass multiple challenges besides finding a safe pathway through the cost valley of death,” Little said. “Even when solid-state batteries enter the market in niche applications, current lithium-ion batteries will most likely be produced to cater for the bulk of applications for another 10–15 years.”
On lead-acid, “the grandfather of rechargeable batteries”, Little said they have “stood the test of time”. Their popularity is due to their low capital cost and ability to operate efficiently even at low temperatures— “which often trumps their low energy densities and low cycle lifetimes”.