World in 2030 With Faster Battery Improvements

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (NEF) forecasted in the Electric Vehicle Outlook 2020 that battery pack prices will get below $100/kWh in 2024 and reach $61/kwh in 2030. EV battery demand has a slow start to the decade, with 2020 shipments 14% lower than in 2019. But by 2030 demand grows almost 14-fold to 1,755GWh. Manufacturers have announced plans totaling 1,769TWh of annual capacity planned by 2025. China still dominates, but capacity is growing in other regions.

There are developments suggest that battery prices will drop faster than even the Bloomberg NEF forecast. $100/kWh could happen this year or next. Prices could reach $30-40 per kWh by 2030. There are also analysis where there could be 6 Terawatt hours per year of battery production in 2030 instead of 2.5 Terawatt hours per year. 3 THh/year for electric cars would mean 30 million electric cars. More batteries and cheaper batteries mean the electrification of transportation and the world will happen faster.

$100/kWh is the projected price of batteries where electric cars without subsidies become cheaper than regular cars.

Lab research shows lithium-iron phosphate batteries, which does not require nickel or cobalt, has a possible pathway to prices as low as $80/kWh. James Frith, head of energy storage at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in London said today’s batteries cost about $147/kWh, down from about $1,000 in 2010 and $381 in 2015.

There is a lot more room for improvement if silicon anodes and dry cell batteries are mastered and produced in large volumes. Having triple the batteries would mean three times as many electric cars or more battery for the storage on the electric grid.

There are estimates that the Tesla Model 3 Performance using a 75 kWh battery pack has a $120 per kWh cost. This means the battery pack costs about $9,000. If Tesla is able to scale up production, they could bring the cost per kWh could come down to $100. The battery pack would cost $7,500 to build and reduce the $53K price of the car by about 3%.

There are various claims that a CATL (China battery company) with a LFP (lithium iron phosphate battery) has reached a $100/kWh price. There are rumors that Tesla could announce a $100/kWh battery at Battery day in September.

SilLion is a small company that works on silicon anode batteries and electrode technology for commercial cylindrical cells. They enable higher-energy batteries by using high-loaded silicon anodes, nickel-rich NMC cathodes, and a non-flammable ionic liquid electrolyte.

This could potentially lower the costs of batteries by 30%.

This technology would be compatible with the Maxwell dry cell battery technology that Tesla acquired earlier.

Tesla is keeping a presence around the battery research activity at the University of Colorado.

In 2017, SilLion talked about a prototype targeting 390 watt hours per kilogram.

If Silicon Anodes can be mastered there is the theoretical potential to achieve 6000 watt-hours per kilogram. However, there are many trade-offs and difficulties handling changes in the anode during operation. Even if the 20X gain could not be reached getting to 1000 watt-hours per kilogram would make electric planes feasible and would provide cars and trucks with over 1000 miles of range on one charge.

I view the situation with lithium-ion like the situation with silicon semiconductors from 1980 to 2020. There was always the potential that completely new technology and materials would displace silicon for computer memory and computer processors. However, silicon remained dominant.

The upper limit on energy density and the lower limit on lithium-ion battery cost appears to be far better than previously believed. Billions of dollars per year in research and development will produce solutions that will advance what can be done in high volume factories.

There are projections that lithium battery production could reach 6 terawatt-hours per year.

SOURCES- Sean Mitchell, Hyperchange, Teslarati, Bloomberg NEF
Written By Brian Wang, (Brian owns Tesla shares)