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Welcome to the “Ion Age”? The Ongoing Rise of Battery Technology

Unless you’ve spent the last few years under a rock, you know that battery technology is the new black. With a new detailed “briefing” feature, The Guardian even goes as far as ringing in the “Ion Age” – a play on lithium-ion battery technology, which continues to make headlines.

Writers Adam Vaughan and Samuel Gibbs explain:

“In a world increasingly anxious about climate change, the surge in the generation of renewable energy over the past 20 years offers a sliver of hope. But the variable nature of wind and solar power means that storing energy until consumers need it has become the next big challenge. And so, large-scale battery installations are springing up across electricity grids around the world, to make them more flexible. In 2017, more than 1GW of energy storage capacity was added around the world – a record, yes, but still a drop in the ocean of global energy demand.”

Looking at some of the top-line developments for grid storage, home batteries and EV batteries, the piece outlines the state of current battery technology and gives a glimpse into the future. While the materials science revolution will continue to yield research breakthroughs, they will take some time. Vaughan and Gibbs quote Prof. Paul Shearing, the British Royal Academy of Engineering’s chair in emerging battery technologies who says: “The next 10 years are going to continue to be lithium-ion dominated. It’s taken a long time to get to this productivity and technological maturity level. For anything to catch up will take a while.”

In 2019, Lithium-ion technology and the materials underpinning it continues to be a space to watch – and our friends at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence are doing a fine job of keeping tabs (see for example this Visual Capitalist infographic using Benchmark data).