In Brief
While the market for electric cars and home batteries rise, the future for these technologies remain uncertainty. To help policy makers and investors make sound choices, researchers from the Imperial College in London came up with a prediction tool.

Calculating Possibilities

When it comes to renewable energy, generation and storage are two facets of technology that have to be tackled simultaneously. For the latter, the development of electric cars and lithium-ion battery storage projects seem to be the number one factor. Yet, when compared to their fossil fuel counterparts, the future of these technologies remain largely uncertain.

To this end, researchers from the Imperial College in London have developed a new tool that could facilitate the prediction of costs and outcomes for electric cars and home batteries. In a study published in the journal Nature Energy, the Imperial researchers demonstrated how their tool could be used. They predicted that electric cars could rival petrol by 2022, and that home batteries could become competitive by the 2030s.

“An informed understanding of the potential future costs of electricity storage technologies is essential to quantify their uptake as well as the uptake of low-carbon technologies reliant on storage,” the researchers wrote.

Towards a More Effective Adoption

Their prediction tool was the result of compiling data from the installed capacity and price of energy storage technologies — like Tesla’s Powerpack — over time. It could be used to figure out how the costs would drop in the future when investment would increase installed capacity.

“With this analysis tool we can quantify when energy storage becomes competitive and identify where to invest to make it happen, thereby minimizing investor and policy uncertainty,” lead researcher Oliver Schmidt, from the Grantham Institute and the Center for Environmental Policy at Imperial, said in a press release.

In short, this could help investors and policy makers make informed decisions when it comes to the future of renewable energy, electric vehicles, and energy storage devices. As another example, the team predicted that EVs could catch up with petrol in terms of costs by 2034 at the latest, given current oil prices. The introduction of Tesla’s low-cost EV, the Model 3, could also affect the outcome.

As co-author Iain Staffel from the Center for Environmental Policy explained, “This tool allows us to combat one of the biggest uncertainties in the future energy system, and use real data to answer questions such as how electricity storage could revolutionize the electricity generation sector, or when high-capacity home storage batteries linked to personal solar panels might become cost-effective.”