If any particular technology takes all the oxygen from everyone else because it dominates an industry, then we’re going to have a dearth of investment in these other technologies, and we’ll just never know what we could have had. Let’s think about crystalline silicon solar modules controlling an industry which had a wealth of thin film innovation, and many other ideas. However, if a technology comes in and takes over, leading to broader industry expansion so that the investment crumbs are large enough to still support investment in these secondary ideas – and we get the great technology from the new leader – I’m going to argue we’ll benefit greatly.
In a research paper by a team at Tesla, A Wide Range of Testing Results on an Excellent Lithium-Ion Cell Chemistry to be used as Benchmarks for New Battery Technologies, up to three years of battery testing have found performance that suggests the potential for electric vehicle battery packs that can drive more than 1 million miles and last more than twenty years when used in stationary energy storage situations.
In the paper, testing results on LiNi0.5Mn0.3Co0.2O2 / artificial graphite (NMC532/AG) cells are presented. The authors note that of all the cells tested, the ones with the longest lifetime are the single crystal NMC532/AG cells.
The very technical document goes into many manners of testing multiple cell types under a broad sets of conditions. A specific cell (below image) had 97% capacity retention after 5,300 cycles. The authors noted that there were almost no microcracks in the electrode particles – which they suggested was the reason “why these cells show no loss of positive electrode active mass during cycling.”
What is interesting is that these twenty years batteries are already being seen by those who develop energy storage projects, and probably by the world’s largest manufacturers who are putting out products with twenty years lifetimes. Cody Hill, an engineer and developer with 10 years in the grid energy storage industry, noted on Twitter this morning:
And what we should expect to see next in the marketplace are investment groups demanding 20-year energy storage contracts coupled with even lower energy storage pricing. SUSI Partners launched what it called the “world’s first dedicated energy storage infrastructure fund”. The fund seeks returns from 8-10% in ten years when accounting for degradation. That degradation could be managed in two ways – the first is by oversizing the battery on day one, so that it meets the needs by year ten. And the second of course is to make a better battery.