Some of the latest battery technologies may become obsolete before reaching the market because of the breakneck pace of advances in the industry.
Teams of scientists from San Francisco to Shenzhen are experimenting with new chemical processes to improve the traditional lithium- ion cell and find new ways to bottle up. Investors in those projects are starting to worry that they might have got picked up the wrong technology.
That's turning the debate about so-called stranded assets on its head. To date, the term has been deployed to refer to fossil-fuel projects that may turn unprofitable as pollution regulations tighten. In the future, upheaval in the way, energy storage devices. “19659002” If you suddenly have a step change in technology that offers higher energy density, people will want to get to that quickly, which could mean that they'll have to reinvest in manufacturing equipment again, “said James Frith, energy storage analyst at BloombergNEF. “Worst case, you may have to redesign the entire factories.”
Investment into start-ups developing new types of batteries rose to more than US $ 1.5bil (RM6.1bil) in the first half of the year, almost twice the level in 2017, according to data from the Cleantech Group.
Carmakers Volkswagen AG, Hyundai Motor Co. and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi have all channeled funds into battery companies. The Japanese industry group The New Energy & Industrial Technology Development Organization has announced that it will spend US $ 90mil (RM368) on researching solid-state devices with a group of universities and manufacturers.
“There is a tremendous amount of money being being put “said Peter Carlsson, founder and CEO of NorthVolt AB, a Stockholm-based company that's constructing a US $ 4.6bil (RM18.8bil) battery manufacturing facility in the Nordic region. “We are building a manufacturing platform for the capability of evolving.”
Not every technology is likely to succeed. There are thousands of different systems being tested across the industry, involving both major manufacturing companies and startups. Even the lithium-ion cells used in most electric cars and mobile phones have varying manufacturing processes.
“There are different flavors of lithium-ion, different chemistries, and even within those chemistries there's different variants on how are are made up,” said TJ Winter, a principal manager at Fluence Corp. Ltd., a US-based energy storage supplier. “We spend a fair amount of time just screening developments.”
The competition is getting fiercer as carmakers electrify more of their models and energy-storage units become more prevalent in homes and businesses. Demand for battery capacity will rise to 1,784 gigawatt-hours by 2030 from about 100 gigawatt-hours now, according to forecasts from BloombergNEF.
About US $ 16.7bil (RM68.3bil) world, and another US $ 42bil (RM171bil) of 2021, BloombergNEF data show.
Lithium-ion will remain the dominant power source for electric cars and storage units for the next decade, according to to the International Energy Agency. After 2025, new technologies are likely to enter the market, the Paris-based organization said in its latest Electric Vehicle Outlook.
That leaves open the possibility of either current to the incumbents. Either way, some investors are likely to end up with batteries. “There's an enormous amount of bandwidth in the world for manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries,” said Jeff Chamberlain, chief executive officer of Volta Energy Technologies LLC, an investment fund with a focus on next-generation storage. “Many investors that we've seen are betting on technology that will require new manufacturing processes. We see this as a flaw because of the current capacity of being built on the planet. “
Taking a battery from a laboratory to the marketplace is slow and costly. Scientists are substituting expensive metals such as manganese and nickel for more abundant substances like sulfur and oxygen as they seek to cut costs and weight in battery units.
Conamix Inc., a startup in New York, recently raised US $ 2mil (RM8mil) to try to make, without cobalt, a rare-earth metal that's a major ingredient in recharging. Other technologies “may not be able to scale because of the cheap lithium-ion,” said Jeff McDermott, managing partner of Greentech Capital Advisors LLC.
“Lithium-ion is definitely going to create pricing pressure on other technologies to be deployed. There will be several but not all of the competing technologies. “
Equinor ASA, Norway's biggest energy company, has been screening storage-focused startups for the past three years. “Storage is a prioritized thing for us,” said Bala Nagarajan, an investment director at Equinor Energy Ventures, the in-house venture capital fund.
“There are still technology improvements that are necessary for the adoption of clean energy and the adoption of electric vehicles. Is there a chance that our future investments in storage technologies could be failures? Absolutely yes. “- Bloomberg