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Study analyzes innovations in lithium-​​ion bat­tery costs

July 31, 2017

Stor­age prices are falling faster than solar PV or wind tech­nolo­gies, accord­ing to a new study by pub­lished in Nature Energy  by Energy & Resources Group graduate student Noah Kittner and professor Dan Kammen. The fall in prices is allow­ing new com­bi­na­tions of solar, wind, and energy stor­age to out­com­pete coal and nat­ural gas plants on cost alone.

The study found that R&D invest­ments for energy stor­age projects have been remark­ably effec­tive in bring­ing the cost per kWh of a lithium-​​ion bat­tery down from $10,000/kWh in the early 1990’s to a tra­jec­tory that could reach $100/​kWh next year. The pace of inno­va­tion is staggering.

Ordi­nar­ily, pub­lic research invest­ment and pri­vate ven­ture cap­i­tal money undergo tough scrutiny before money can be spent on research and the results from years of work are not imme­di­ately vis­i­ble. How­ever, this study shows that long-​​term R&D spend­ing played a crit­i­cal fac­tor in achiev­ing cost reduc­tions, and a recent lack of invest­ment for basic and applied research may miss the $100/​kWh tar­get for cost effec­tive renew­able energy projects. Mod­est future research invest­ment from pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors could go a long way to unlock extremely low-​​cost, and low-​​carbon elec­tric­ity from solar, wind, and storage.

Read the full story at its source, the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory.