Op-ed: Promising Outlook for Lithium-Ion Battery Technology — Once Risks Are Addressed

Energy storage is transforming the power industry, and lithium-ion battery technology is a dominating driving force. But with the pace of change, it remains to be seen whether lithium-ion will remain in the lead over the long-term. Burns & McDonnell Energy Storage Director Chris Ruckman explains in a new blog.

Lithium-ion batteries are here to stay. Use cases are growing every day. Cell pricing continues to decline and manufacturing is ramping up to meet global demand. At the same time, battery energy density continues to improve, and manufacturers are developing more cost‑effective packaging to reduce installation costs. And, finally, though current fire safety concerns are serious, they can be addressed with proper equipment selection, planning and engineering.

Any discussion about the future of lithium-ion technology typically starts with cost. In 2010, lithium battery pack pricing was around $1,200 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for large-scale storage configurations. As of early 2020, pack pricing was less than $160/kWh and continuing to decline.

The past and forward pricing curve for lithium-ion batteries — similar to the historic curve seen in the photovoltaic (PV) solar industry — has dropped rapidly and consistently over the past 10 years. Assuming a forward pricing curve for lithium-ion consistent with historic PV panel pricing, it is conceivable that lithium‑ion pack prices could fall below $100/KWh by 2024 and under $70/KWh by 2030. Unless there are breakthroughs in mining, the 2030 price point is approaching the cost of raw materials and will be driven predominately by demand for electric vehicles (EVs) as they become more predominant over internal combustion vehicles.

Click here to read more of the white paper by Chris Ruckman, the battery storage expert at Burns & McDonnell.

(About the author: Chris Ruckman, energy storage director at Burns & McDonnell, oversees the development of energy storage solutions to meet growing electrical grid challenges. He has more than 25 years of experience as an electrical engineer.)

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