Experts predict that the cost of battery storage for stationary applications could fall by up to two-thirds over the next 13 years. The study also found that global storage capacity could triple if countries double their share of renewables in the energy system.

“As storage technology improves and prices decline, both utility-scale and small-scale, distributed applications could grow dramatically, accelerating renewable energy deployment” said IRENA director-general Adnan Z. Amin. “In this dynamic, low-carbon energy environment, now is a crucial time for storage technology.”

‘Virtuous circle’

At present, around 96% of the world’s installed electricity storage power comes from hydro-pumped systems. But IRENA predicts that falling costs and technology breakthroughs will accelerate the development of alternative storage devices such as lithium-ion batteries.

The report notes how stationary electricity storage can drive rapid decarbonisation in the transport sector. The viability of battery storage for electric vehicles (EVs) is vastly improving, with the cost of lithium-ion batteries falling by up to 73% for transport applications over the past seven years.

Major investments are being made worldwide in new mass production plants for producing lithium-ion batteries, such as the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery developed by Tesla in South Australia. Researchers claim that by 2030, the calendar life of lithium-ion batteries could also increase by around 50%, while the number of full cycles possible could potentially increase by as much as 90%.

“The growth of lithium-ion battery use in EVs and across the transport sector over the next 10 to 15 years is an important synergy that will help drive down battery costs for stationary storage applications,” said Dolf Gielen, IRENA Innovation and Technology Centre director and report author.

“The trend towards electrified mobility will also open up opportunities for EVs to provide vehicle-to-grid services, helping feed a virtuous circle of renewable energy and storage integration.”

Energy revolution

New consumer products like Tesla’s grid-connected home battery, coupled with the rise of small-scaled renewables and EVs, are becoming more popular, and are tipped to revolutionise the way power is stored.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) expects the lithium-ion battery market for energy storage to reach at least $239bn by 2040. According to BNEF, batteries will compete with natural gas to provide grid and systems flexibility.

Korean technology company Samsung’s lithium-ion and renewables division wants to bring fast charging battery cell technology into mass production for EVs, with the company offering 600km driving ranges and 20-minute charge times.

BMW is using energy storage as a crux for its new operating model, while Mercedes-Benz wants to introduce a “private energy revolution” to UK, after commencing deliveries of energy storage units that can connect with renewable energy sources. Elsewhere, Japanese carmaker Nissan is trialling vehicle-to-grid energy systems in the UK, through a partnership with the National Grid.

George Ogleby

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