Nonetheless, continued scaling will ensure that LIBs get even cheaper. Some analysts believe that, with foreseeable improvements in LIB chemistry, prices could hit $40 or even $30/kWh in coming decades. We simply don’t know yet what can be done with storage that cheap.
To take one example, if energy storage gets cheap enough to become an economically trivial addition to building construction/renovations, it will eventually be ubiquitous at the local level, and the benefits of ubiquitous, networked local energy are … well, hard to predict. We know that it would protect vulnerable populations through blackouts like those in Texas or California over the last year. But it could do much more.
Cheap batteries could open up uses we haven’t even envisioned yet. What sorts of urban mobility vehicles, drones, planes, or research outposts could we power? What kinds of ships or trains could we electrify? How could increasingly cheap, ubiquitous storage be coupled with increasingly cheap, ubiquitous solar energy?
We don’t know yet. But we’re going to see some cool things over the next few years. Batteries have the potential to change our ordinary lived experience in myriad ways. It’s worth the time to understand what’s driving their development and where they might go.
Our energy infrastructure is currently shaped by large centralized power plants and gasoline/diesel engines.
As PV and LIBs replace these, it will be interesting to see how our built infrastructure will be changed.