1 topic, 2 key figures, 3 startups to draw inspiration from
How can battery innovation power the rise of electromobility?
The need to tackle global warming and improve air quality has led to an exponential increase in the use of Electric Vehicles (EV). Electromobility has been a crucial topic for governments and automotive manufacturers, and regulation incentives have contributed to accelerate the transition to EV. According to Forbes, there were 7.2 million electric cars on the road worldwide in 2019, up from 17,000 in 2010. The growing EV adoption implies an increase in EV production, which translates into an increase in battery production.
However, the growing number of EV and batteries being produced brings with it a new set of challenges: uncertainty about battery range and charging times, electric grid imbalance and a shortage of raw materials, especially lithium, which is the scarce material used in battery production.
Consequently, battery innovation is crucial to disrupt electromobility and battery startups and manufacturers are working to improve the performance, durability, optimisation and recycling of batteries.
- Lithium-ion technology dominates electromobility use cases, and will dominate for at least the next 20 years, but alternatives are being developed such as sodium-ion, lithium-sulfur or lithium-air. These alternatives allow to either replace lithium, generate higher capacity and longer lifetime or create safer batteries. Innovation is also underway in the structure of batteries, from cell structure to modules and packs, allowing to save space, optimize charging time and control the temperature.
- EV Li-ion batteries need to be cooled because excessive temperatures can cause capacity degradation, thermal runaway or fire explosion. Some startups and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) are focusing on developing Thermal Management Systems (TMS) to cool them.
- Startups and corporates are also testing and offering software and analytical solutions that have a signficant impact on the battery lifecycle by improving its development, optimizing its operations and solving reinsurance issues.
- Finally, startups and OEM are exploring three emerging business models:
- Battery leasing, which is discontinued by OEM as battery prices fall;
- Battery swapping, which is mainly used by micromobility operators;
- Battery recycling, which allows old EV batteries to be reused for stationary storage.
In conclusion, battery innovation is evolving very rapidly, both in terms of technologies and business models and is making a major contribution to the rise of electromobility by making EV more efficient and resilient. The market is still young and needs more structure, as a large number of corporates and startups are positioning themselves on the battery value chain. In particular, OEMs have developed Open Innovation strategies through M&A or strategic investments to acquire upstream battery competences and technologies. It is hoped that the Covid-19 pandemic will accelerate research and investment in this sector to ensure a rapid and effective transition to electric vehicles.
2 Key Figures
Battery storage startups raised $1.7bn in 2019
According to Business Insider, battery storage startups raised $1.7bn in 2019 of which $1.4bn were raised by Li-ion battery startups.
Market size expected to reach $84bn by 2025
According to PR Newswire, the global Electric Vehicle battery market size was valued at $23bn in 2017 and is expected to reach $84bn by 2025.
3 startups to draw inspiration from
This week, we identified three startups that we can draw inspiration from: Tiamat, Feasible and Relectrify.
Tiamat is a French startup that designs, develops, and manufactures sodium-ion batteries for mobility and stationary storage.
Based in the US, Feasible develops the EchoStat Platform, which delivers unique real-time insights on the battery, by using ultrasounds to detect physical properties of batteries.
Relectrify is an Australia-based startup making energy storage affordable by unlocking full performance from battery cells in order to increase battery cycle life.