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Vehicles account for most demand, but batteries are increasingly prevalent in power grids. By the year 2030, passenger cars will account for the biggest share of global battery demand, at about 60%, followed by commercial vehicles (23%), according to the Global Battery Alliance. Also by 2030, consumer electronics (think iPhones and tablets), will shrink from more than a fifth of the global battery market to only a “marginal” share, according to the alliance. As global battery demand grows by an expected 25% annually from now until 2030, they will power not only increasingly electrified transportation, but will also facilitate a shift from fossil fuel power generation to more sustainable models - via the deployment of batteries in power grids (and more decentralized, off-grid applications). Renewable energy sources tend to be intermittent (the sun is not always shining on solar panels, for example), creating an important role for batteries as a “balancing solution” capable of storing renewable energy until it is needed. In many ways, batteries are better suited to this role than, for example, pumped hydroelectric power - because of their flexibility (they can be installed in just about any environment) and relatively quick response times. Between 2015 and 2018, energy-storage battery demand grew by as much as 70% per year, and by the year 2030 roughly 220 gigawatt hours-worth of grid-connected batteries are expected to be installed, according to the Global Battery Alliance. Tesla installed a $96 million “big battery” in South Australia that is now used to provide storage and stability for the local power grid, and the company has indicated that the project has since led to even larger orders. Research is underway to bolster the safety of energy-storing technology - and mitigate incidents like the 2019 explosion and fire at a battery storage system installed by an Arizona utility to capture solar energy near Phoenix, which injured several people. Work is also being done to further develop so-called vehicle-to-grid, or V2G technology, which could coordinate power sharing between grids and plugged-in vehicles - and feed necessary energy into a grid during times of peak demand or emergencies. While this technology is still a work in progress, hopes are high that it could help answer questions about how to feed more intermittent - but necessary - sustainable energy into public power systems.

Batteries in Cars, Batteries in Grids

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Next Generation Batteries