As the consumption of power generated by unconventional sources grows, so does the need to store that power. Whether it is due to the intermittent nature of the power (as in the case of renewables) or the need for portability (as in the case of electric and hybrid electric cars), energy storage is becoming an integral component of the clean-energy movement.
Battery technology, one of the most prominent methods of energy storage, will be one of the primary beneficiaries of this trend.
According to a recent report from the Boulder, Colo.-based clean technologies research firm Pike Research, the field will experience a surge of innovation over the next 10 years.
The report, “Emerging Battery Technologies,” notes that advanced battery technologies for clean-power uses currently does not meet the demands of the marketplace. However, the influx of investment and an open competitive field will lead to change.
Pike notes that, while lithium-ion batteries have led the field for decades and, because of this position, have emerged as the leading candidate for clean-energy storage solutions, no one technology has taken a dominating role. However, the report is bullish on the ability of supporting institutions, such as university labs and new companies, to develop solutions for the battery industry to meet the challenges posed by a rapidly changing environment of energy use.
It also projects government funding to play an important role, especially in the United States, which it describes as a “hotbed of battery innovation.” Supporting this characterization, the report notes that, in 2012, the U.S. government had 39 different battery and energy-storage-related research programs managed by six different agencies, which invested a combined total of $1.3 billion over a three-year period.
Worldwide, according to the report, the market for grid-scale advanced batteries will receive nearly $30 billion in investment through 2020.