Scaling up battery innovation for carbon neutrality: From Lab Bench to Marketplace

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As many regions and countries in the world commit to carbon neutrality goals, it is imperative to deploy clean energy innovations at a large scale. Battery storage is essential to pave the way for a carbon-neutral future. Research has demonstrated that energy storage can reduce emissions by 57% with as little as 0.3% renewable curtailment (Arbabzadeh, M., Sioshansi, R., Johnson, J.X. et al, 2019). Scaling up battery innovation requires concerted efforts from stakeholders across the battery value chain.

This study provides a comprehensive overview of the evolution of the battery innovation system. We characterize the role of industry actors and their activities involved in bringing battery technology from lab bench to marketplace. Our description is based on a review of current academic and grey literature, 50 stakeholder interviews conducted in the summer of 2020, and industry data from BloombergNEF (BNEF). The battery innovation system has evolved over time, and the traditional “triple helix” of participants – government, academic researchers, and industry – has evolved and expanded. This study also provides a wide range of techniques to help scale up battery technology development and deployment across the innovation value chain steps. These include: increasing public R&D for storage technologies; continuing to support small- and medium-sized battery companies; reviving manufacturing policies such as loan programs, tax credits, and advanced national EV targets; and finally, investing in regional energy innovation systems like the California Innovation Energy Ecosystem.

This research provides a snapshot of the overall battery storage innovation performance today. As the next generation of chemistry and battery systems continues to evolve, it will be important to examine the innovation system gaps to effectively scale up battery storage technologies to meet ambitious carbon neutrality goals in the near future.

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