The continuum of battery technology development has been varying from stagnant periods to significant breakthroughs, in an almost unpredictable fashion. The inception of the idea about a battery charged-electric vehicle is indeed as old as the motor car itself. The trend has been consistently directing away from heavy and acid batteries to compact, light and far more efficient nickel/metal (NiMH) accumulators. One of those significant breakthroughs mentioned above came with the introduction of lithium-ion technology. Of course, many additional technological advances seem to be imminent, within the next years, through the introduction of post-lithium-ion technology.
Lithium-ion batteries are named after the movement of lithium ions within them, and they power most rechargeable devices today. The element lithium (Li) has some interesting properties that allow batteries to be both portable and powerful; the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to scientists who worked on the idea during the 1970s. But despite their widespread use, lithium-ion batteries remain extremely complicated and still intrigue scientists to unlock their secrets and open up the road for optimal efficiency.
These new batteries have also displaced the Ni-Cd (Nickel-Cadmium) ones, dominating in portable electronic devices market of smartphones and laptops. Li-ion batteries are also extensively utilized in the aerospace domain, like in the new Boeing 787, where weight and environmental-friendliness are significant factors.
Lithium-ion seems to be the most efficient battery technology available, indicating a lot of space for further improvements. They are capable of having a very high voltage and charge storage per unit mass and unit volume. They are also incomparable with the older batteries in terms of quality, output, half-life and cost. A lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery uses lithium ions as a key component of its electrochemistry. More specifically, as it goes through its discharge cycle, lithium atoms in the anode are ionized and separated from their electrons. Then, those charged lithium ions move from the anode and pass through the electrolyte until they reach the cathode, where they recombine with their electrons and practically neutralize. In principle, rechargeable batteries shouldn’t expire but they can only practically be recharged a limited number of times before they lose their ability to hold a charge. The ordinary types of battery will stop working when their terminals, the electrodes, are altered due the ions passing from one terminal of the battery to the other. In a rechargeable battery, the electrodes recover when an external charger sends those ions back where they came from.
During the last two decades, lithium-ion batteries have reached the status of being the spearhead of the automotive market. They are the same technological advancement that enabled automakers to redefine their positioning towards fossil fuels and internal combustion engines (ICE). We observe a global transition towards electric vehicles (EV), which continually pushes the boundaries of lithium-ion batteries for more power, longevity and cost-effectiveness.
For example, the ranges of 500 km are already feasible for electric vehicles, while the charging times are constantly being reduced thanks to rapid charging technology. The launch of what are known as post-lithium-ion systems are considered within-reach. New technologies, and especially the kind aimed at material-related improvements, plus ever-increasing production volumes leading to further price decreases, will determine the evolutionary development stages of the next few years. But the beauty of the battery system is not only in the cell itself and the related materials, but in the whole system that incorporates it. This includes the electronics, software, integrated cooling and the highly secure housing that is tailor-made for the vehicle and the cells.
A brave new world
A brave new world is upon us, with many pioneers leading the way of developments. Tesla is one of those in the lead, pushing the electric vehicle market to new frontiers and probably the eventual domination over the ICE vehicles. The big catalyst here, is that the internal combustion engines are replaced by cars solely powered by lithium-ion batteries, so the battery performance defines eventually the car’s performance. There are still problems though, with charging times and mile capacity being still barriers to be overcome. For fast charging and discharging of Li-ion batteries, methods that reduce the particle size of electrode materials were used so far. However, reducing the particle size has a disadvantage of decreasing the volumetric energy density of the batteries.
In light of this, a POSTECH (South Korean university) research team has developed a much faster charging and longer lasting battery material. Professor Byoungwoo Kang and Dr. Minkyung Kim of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering along with professor Won-Sub Yoon of the Department of Energy Science at Sungkyunkwan University have conducted some really interesting research. Their findings were published in the recent issue of Energy & Environmental Science and proved to enable further longevity for Li-ion batterie leading to the production of Li-ion battery electrodes that charge up to 90% in six minutes and discharge 54% in 18 seconds. Professor Byoungwoo Kang mentioned that: “The conventional approach has always been a trade-off between its low energy density and the rapid charge and discharge speed due to the reduction in the particle size. This research has laid the foundation for developing Li-ion batteries that can achieve quick charging and discharging speed, high energy density, and prolonged performance.”
Building a European battery technology market
In the massive migration from fossil to electric, the availability of capable batteries is a major issue. The need for efficient batteries – for transport, power and industrial applications – is growing fast and at an increasing pace.
The European Commission launched the European Battery Alliance in October 2017 to address this industrial challenge. The annual market value is estimated at EUR 250 billion from 2025 onwards. For Europe, the establishment of a complete domestic battery value chain is imperative for a clean energy transition and a competitive industry.
The industrial development programme of the European Battery Alliance, the EBA250, is managed by EIT InnoEnergy. Today, EBA250 is a project-driven community which brings together close to 600 industrial and innovation actors, from mining to recycling, with the common objective to build a strong and competitive European battery industry.
A blueprint for next-generation battery manufacturing
Northvolt is developing a blueprint for next-generation Lithium-ion battery manufacturing that is fundamentally different to conventional battery production facilities. With a concept leveraging scale, vertical integration and automated manufacturing, they seek to push the boundaries of battery performance, quality and cost.
While the Northvolt blueprint is geared for technological excellence, it is rooted in a commitment to sustainability. Clean energy will power battery cell manufacturing, circular systems will be embedded into their processes and effective recycling solutions will be delivered to recover materials from end-of-life batteries and redirect them back into manufacturing.
Compared to traditional Lithium-ion battery manufacturers, this production process spans across many portions of the value chain and Northvolt giga-factories are designed to achieve optimal scale benefits. This approach provides them a structurally lower cost level and allows for a high degree of cost and quality control.
The company’s first large-scale battery factory is being established in Skellefteå in northern Sweden. Northvolt Ett will serve as Northvolt’s primary site for manufacturing of active material, cell assembly, recycling and auxiliaries. The factory is powered by 100 percent clean energy. Large-scale manufacturing will commence in 2021 and annual capacity will ramp up to at least 32 GWh by 2024, with the potential to expand to 40 GWh in the future.
The Northvolt–Volkswagen Group Joint Venture is establishing a battery factory in Salzgitter, Lower Saxony, Germany. Northvolt Zwei takes its design from the Northvolt blueprint for battery manufacturing developed for Northvolt Ett. Start of construction is slated for 2021 and start of operations scheduled for early 2024. Initial annual output will be 16 GWh.
Northvolt’s demonstration manufacturing line and research facility is in Västerås, 100 kilometers west of Stockholm. Northvolt Labs is used to qualify and industrialize battery cells and manufacturing processes together with the customers. Once cells are ready for mass production, they will be produced at Northvolt Ett. As of December 2019, Northvolt Labs is producing cells and ramping up to an annual capacity of 350 MWh per year.
Northvolt’s smallest facility – Northvolt R&D, is built for cell design concept validation and is in Västerås, Sweden. Outfitted with all the capacities necessary for Northvolt to develop, manufacture and validate Li-ion materials and cells, the facility has been online since spring 2019.
The company’s facility for battery module and energy storage system assembly has been established in Gdańsk, Poland. Northvolt Battery Systems Jeden hosts state-of-the-art production capacities and serves as an R&D platform for industrializing battery solutions. As of spring 2019, the facility is in production and ramping up to 10,000 modules/year.
A French company called NAWA Technologies claimed that they are already in production on a new electrode design that can radically boost the performance of existing and future battery chemistries, tripling energy density, and producing tenfold the power, with immensely faster charging and much longer battery life spans, almost quintupled. It all comes down to how the active material is held in the electrode, and the route the ions in that material must take to deliver their charge. The company’s CTO, Pascal Boulanger explains it like that: “The distance the ion needs to move is just a few nanometres through the lithium material, instead of micrometres with a plain electrode.” He continues: “Since the beginning of the battery industry, most performance increases have come from materials, but it has reached a plateau today. Combine abundant carbon with nanoscale electrode architecture advances and you have a game-changer. NAWA’s Ultra-Fast Carbon Electrode brings a step change in electrode design and performance thanks to our vertically aligned carbon nanotube technology. Offering huge increases in power, energy storage and lifecycle, as well as being clean and cost-effective, the potential is enormous.”
This development can radically increase power density, which can be translated as the battery’s capacity to deliver faster charge and discharge. By radically we mean a tenfold increase, which results to smaller batteries that can offer 10 times more power with decreased charging times. For example, NAWA claims that a short charge of a few minutes charge could give a 0-80% charge. Also, with the proper modifications on the battery’s surface area, and by employing nanotubes, NAWA claims that lifespan could increase by five times. Boulanger stated: “Making a battery is very difficult; you have to master a lot of parameters. But if you want to master those parameters, you need to have the highest electrical conductivity. You need to have the highest thermal conductivity. You need to have the highest ionic conductivity. And that’s exactly what our material can bring to battery makers.”
Ulrik Grape, CEO of NAWA Technologies also said: “NAWA’s Ultra-Fast Carbon Electrode will allow us to charge batteries faster, go further and for longer – and all with a product based on one of the world’s most abundant and green materials: carbon. Our battery technology can help to dramatically reduce the environmental impact of battery systems, so much so that we believe this electrode innovation could halve the time in which an electric vehicle pays back the CO2created in its manufacture – as well as being able to recharge at the same time it takes to refuel and drive the same distance on electricity as a tank of gas.”
A Research Fellow at the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences at Flinders University, Dr. Cameron Shearer, and a batteries expert specified on this point: “Research has shown vertically aligned – or even just well distributed – carbon nanotubes have far greater properties than randomly placed carbon nanotubes. I am not surprised a x10 in conductivity is possible. Controlling the placement of carbon nanotubes is really the way to unlock their potential. The issue in commercialization is the cost associated with producing aligned carbon nanotubes. My guess is the cost would be much more than x10.”
Boulanger replied with facts: “Just to give you some numbers, the cost for depositing anti-reflective coating inside a PV panel is a few cents per square meter. It’s the same, we just deposit our material, because we’ve mastered the process. The growth rate for vertically aligned carbon nanotubes is known as being very, very fast. We can grow vertically aligned nanotubes up to, let’s say, 100 microns per minute. It needs only one minute in the furnace. We’ve scaled this process on very large surfaces, and with a process that works at atmospheric pressure, at lower temperature, we can do it a little bit like making a newspaper. Not that fast, but almost the same idea.”
The company has been scaling up its production capacity, supplying vertically aligned carbon nanotubes for its ultracapacitor devices. They consider electrode as is more or less flexible; it could be used on cylindrical cells or flat cells of all sizes and the plethora of possibilities can be found in the fact that it doesn’t have to be lithium-ion, either. The company is examining silicon, nickel-manganese-cobalt and sulphur chemistries, and even more exotic materials which they cannot disclose. Silicon based batteries could offer double the energy density of lithium-ion, but the active material grows to four times its size as it’s charged and shrinks back again as it discharges, causing mechanical issues that lead to cracks. So, if certain constraints are dealt with, no one can imagine what the future might hold. More specifically, Boulanger states: “Nanotubes are unbreakable; any expansion is lateral, not on the electrode thickness. And the nanotube structure acts like a cage. For silicon, it seems the solution could be to create a shell nanoparticle where the expanding-contracting silicon material is constrained inside a conductive carbon shell.”
Battery technology in Romania: Rombat to produce batteries for electric cars near Bucharest
Romania appears on the map of countries producing high voltage Li-ion batteries for electric cars due to the car battery manufacturer Rombat from Bistrita, controlled by the South African group Metair who opened a new factory in Cernica, Ilfov County, near Bucharest.
Thus, the production unit of Li-ion batteries for electric cars occupies an area of 5,000 square meters on two levels with a total batteries production capacity which can store 100 MWh per month, due to an investment of 12 million euros. High-capacity batteries are increasingly in demand by the car market, given the multitude of EV projects launched by all major car companies, including not only full electric cars, but also hybrid and mild hybrid cars. The batteries produced at Cernica can be released in two types – the NMC (lithium-nickel-manganese) type of 20 Ah/3.65 V and LPF (lithium-iron phosphate) of 20 Ah/3.2 V. The installed production capacity is up to 1 million cells per year, enough to equip over 20,000 medium-capacity electric cars.
Promising battery technology
As previously stated, EV adoption is becoming a catalyst for further developments in the battery industry and vice versa. For example, an 85-kWh Lithium-ion battery of a Tesla Model S is approximately 1,200 pounds consisting of 7,104 cells. It has a great range of up to 265 miles, but it can take up to 3-4 hours to recharge at a standard 220V source.
A Chinese battery-maker, supplying most of the major automakers (including Tesla) revealed they produced the first ‘million-mile battery’. Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) says its new battery is capable of powering a vehicle for more than a million miles (1.2 million, to be precise – or 1.9 million km) over a 16-year lifespan.
This is why Tesla, which is today arguably considered the industry leader, is constantly reiterating and advancing on new battery technology. A new advancement is their lithium iron phosphate cathodes that are cobalt-free, something that takes care of the question the raw resource’s scarcity. Cobalt is not only scarce but also linked with cruel and unethical mining methods in developing countries around the world. Both iron and phosphorous are easy to find and mine resources and could drastically reduce the environmental impact of mining for the scarce cobalt for battery usage. They also offer batteries with longer lifecycles and higher discharge and recharge rates. The trade-off is that iron phosphate, due to lower density capacity, could force an increase in battery size. Tesla is working on finding an engineering solution, in terms of battery shape, to optimize space utilization.
As with lithium iron phosphate, Lithium-Sulphur could become another very promising approach as a replacement for heavy metals in batteries. Researchers at Monash University have been working and finally developed a Lithium-Sulphur battery design, tested on a cell phone, that held charge for five days. That could promise a lot in terms of car applications; Monash researchers theorize that Lithium-Sulphur batteries can store more energy than Lithium-ion by a factor of six. They expect to commercialize the application within the next years.
Another very promising battery technology is glass battery technology. The idea is to add sodium or even lithium to glass and form an electrode within the battery. This application could render it appropriate for mobility applications and it also seems that it’s more stable than other sources, can handle extreme temperature better and is cheaper to produce. Glass battery technology is reportedly capable of storing three times the energy of a traditional Lithium-ion battery of a similar size and can withstand many more charge and discharge cycles than typical EV batteries. This implies reducing battery size maintaining the same range and performance or maintaining the size of a vehicle and extending the range by up to three times. The 1,000-mile EV barrier could be broken eventually.
Meanwhile, Echion Technologies- a start-up hailing from England, claims they have developed an anode for high-capacity Lithium batteries to reduce drastically recharging times. The anode, which operates as a negative pole during use and a positive pole during charge, has been called a mixed niobium oxide anode. The mixed niobium oxide anode can be used in exchange for any other anode style to improve recharging. It’s compatible with conventional cathodes and electrolyte materials so it can be widely implemented. The bold claim about mixed niobium oxide anodes is that it can allow high-capacity Lithium batteries to recharge in as little as six minutes.
Applications and implications of battery technology
As already mentioned, EVs have been catalytically driving the need for improvements in battery technology and they are a segment that the new technologies will definitely shape in the future. Leading EV manufacturers like Tesla, GM, Honda, BMW, NIO, Ford and Porsche offer diverse options starting from hybrid cars, all the way to fully electric vehicles. This simply means that the battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs) rely only on electric power to drive whereas plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and full hybrid electric vehicles (FHEV) work along with internal combustion engines (ICE) to generate power for the car.
When designing EV batteries, engineers must not only consider capacity but also charging times, degradation, chemistry aspects and definitely safety. Energy and power density thresholds have been realized in most EV applications, yet vehicle manufacturers are constantly tweaking module and cell sizes for optimum performance levels. Regardless of Lithium-ion battery cell and module sizes, the high-voltage battery systems that power EVs require meticulously designed battery management systems (BMS) to ensure maximum power and safety.
Tesla, along with upstart NIO, seem to be currently leading the largest global EV market, creating vehicles with up to 110kWh battery systems. These cars can store enough energy to power a standard 60W light bulb for up to 80 days and power the Tesla Model S for 400 miles. Their most recent battery packs will pack several thousand of Tesla’s very own 2170 Lithium-ion cells. The 2170 Tesla Lithium-ion cells are 10-15% more energy efficient than the Panasonic 18650 cells at work in previous models. Tesla’s 100kWh battery solution, built around the 18650 cells, contains 8,256 cells (12Ah/cell), evenly distributed across 16 battery modules.
Meanwhile, Porsche Taycan, Porsche’s attempt at a high-performing EV, contains a 93.4kWh battery that produces 800V, instead of the standard 400V found in most other electric vehicles. The Taycan’s battery consists of 33 battery modules with 12 cells each, totalling 396 lithium-ion cells capable of storing a whopping 235.8 Wh/cell. Since battery charging speed is limited by current, the higher voltage these cells produce means lighter battery system weights and faster charging.
When it comes to hybrid solutions, Toyota is the leader. Their most popular PHEV, the Prius, boasts an 8.8 kWh battery pack, which enables the vehicle to achieve nearly 55 MPG in the city. Drivers can charge the 8.8 kWh battery at home or on the go, and because the Prius Prime consumes more electricity than gasoline, it saves money at the pump. The Prius Prime is powered by five battery stacks, each containing 19 LI cells (95 cells) that combine to a total capacity of 8.8kWh. By comparison, the standard Prius – the world’s most popular FHEV – contains a much smaller battery, with only two stacks at 28 cells each (total of 56 cells), giving it a final capacity of 0.745 kWh. Many other manufacturers offer multiple models with varying battery capacity systems and battery utilization.
Other futuristic ideas are related to Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) planes, drones and many other very interesting applications. Now for the commercialization of a VTOL Taxi or, for the logistics industry to use EV’s fully and for more widespread use of electric vehicles we will need a few things, like battery longevity, increased availability of stored energy (even within our homes – with solutions like the Tesla power wall) and faster charging facilities.
Jeff Dahn, a Professor in the Department of Physics & Atmospheric Science along with his team at their Canadian lab have long been conducting leading battery research, but over the last four years, have been proceeding in partnership with Tesla. They have also been looking at new battery technology that does not just slightly improve batteries but changes them completely. But Dahn and Tesla’s research shows a very different path – Anode free, Lithium pouch cells with dual-salt LiDFOB/LiBF4 Liquid Electrolyte. Professor Dahn, along with Tesla’s scientific team, stated in one of their papers: “Recently, we demonstrated long-lifetime anode-free cells using a dual-salt carbonate electrolyte. Here we characterize the degradation of anode-free cells with this lean (2.6 g AG-1) Liquid electrolyte. We observe deterioration of the pristine Lithium morphology using scanning electron microscopy and X-ray tomography and diagnose the cause as electrolyte degradation and depletion using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and ultrasonic transmission mapping. For the safety characterization tests, we measure the cell temperature during nail penetration.”
If Tesla keeps pushing in this way, battery cell efficiency will go through the roof, meaning that not only will we have high quality cells available to us, but we will also then be able to properly utilize power wall(s) in our homes, our work and why not in public places. In theory, this would mean that we could store our own solar energy better, or in the case of commercialization, energy companies could store the wind, solar and tidal energy they produce at off-peak times saving it for when demand is increased, rather than letting it go to waste. Energy costs would plummet and, as there would be public confidence in both the range and longevity of EVs, there would most likely be a significant shift in vehicular buying habits. Especially if it was combined with a governmental incentive, similar to the current German offering. When we save the energy we produce, rather than leaving it to go to waste, we would only need to use fossil fuels to top up our energy demands, rather than using it to provide the bulk of them.
Back in 2017, Tesla helped the Australian Government with an immense 150 MWH storage facility on the southern part of the continent, co-locating with the Hornsdale wind farm. After six months of operation, the Hornsdale Power Reserve was responsible for 55% of frequency control and ancillary services in South Australia. By the end of 2018, it was estimated that the Power Reserve had saved A$40 million in costs, mostly in eliminating the need for a fuel-powered 35 MW Frequency Control Ancillary Service. Tesla also broke ground for a new energy storage facility in Monterey, California, which will be the largest installation in the world. The battery park will be able to churn out 730 megawatt hours (MWH) of energy to the grid at a maximum rate of 182.5 MWH for up to four hours. Tesla and PG&E will then upgrade the system’s capacity shortly after completion to 1.2 gigawatt-hours which according to Tesla, will power every home in San Francisco for six hours.
Most car batteries offer warranties for 60,000-150,000 miles over a three to eight-year period. This is a huge improvement in battery life, but will cost just 10% more than existing products, says CATL chair, Zeng Yuqun. Having a life-long battery is obviously good news for the electric car industry. But longer-lasting batteries are also essential for what’s known as ‘stationary’ storage too. These are the batteries we can attach to wind turbines or solar panels so renewable energy is available when the sun isn’t shining, or the wind isn’t blowing. Fairly soon you might even want a stationary battery in your home to store cheap off-peak electricity, or to collect the power your own solar panels generate.
When it comes to Europe, Daimler AG – and its subsidiaries, seems to be the only German manufacturer today with its own battery production set up, and they are already ramping up production eyeing a global battery network. The company is investing over one billion euros in global battery production with two factories in Kamenz, Saxony and further sites in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim, Beijing and Tuscaloosa.
Another major implication, interwoven with the development of battery technology has to do with solar energy. In 2020, the University of York, collaborating with NOVA University of Lisbon, immensely increased the capacity of solar panels to absorb light by a stunning 125% by 3D geometry like a square block maze. This increases the diffraction rate meaning probability of light being absorbed. Dr. Christian Schuster from the York’s Department of Physics claims: “In principle, we could deploy ten times more solar power for the same amount of absorber material: ten times thinner solar cells could enable a rapid expansion of photovoltaics, increase solar electricity production, and greatly reduce our carbon footprint”. This unavoidably leads to thoughts about fitting these lighter, cheaper, more efficient panels on vehicles, to render them self-sustainable. Hyundai has already installed a solar roof on its Sonata hybrid car generating up to 10% of its power. Now translucent solar panels are promised on some Hyundai battery cars. Solar panels that open up when the vehicle stops have been demonstrated, as has sun-tracking solar on vehicles. ARC solar car chargers and large area land solar track the sun in one direction, increasing electricity produced by 30%.
Further revolutionary ideas are also in play today: agrivoltaics and soliculture. Agrivoltaics is a clear win-win: it collects energy and boost agricultural production. Fraunhofer bifacial vertical panels work from both sides leaving ground open for agriculture. Soliculture uses translucent greenhouses which produce electricity while optimally filtering light for plant growth. There are also those photovoltaics that ‘open up’ like sunflowers and follow the light of the sun. These flowers can be installed in fields, roofs and even vehicles. In Brazil, exceptionally high temperature reduces output so Sunew have used organic photovoltaic film on trucks to avoid the problem. Much solar uses infrared so that can even go on the underside of some vehicles traveling on hot roads as costs continue to plummet.
Trucks and buses may not achieve solar energy independence for some time, but all could recharge, without stopping, from solar land surfaces and buildings, if necessary, boosted by nearby wind and water turbines. Trains may viably charge mainly from traveling under long-distance solar awnings with help from solar bodywork and trackside solar and wind. Studies are taking place. Robot shuttles, cars and smaller vehicles will easily become energy independent. Indeed, a spin-off of Eindhoven University in the Netherlands is preparing a commercial energy-positive family car Stella Era and Audi has joined as a partner.
Global economic impact of battery technology
The global battery technology market is driven by the increased use of electric and hybrid vehicles, growing global interest in consumer electronics, and stricter government regulations on emissions. The market in 2020 was estimated at just over USD 90 billion USD. It is expected to grow at a CAGR rate of around 10%, reaching over $150 billion USD in just 5 years. The Lithium-ion battery will have the greatest impact on growth, given its wide range of applications and further development potential.
According to the IEA Global EV Outlook 2020 report, electric cars, which accounted for 2.6% of global car sales and about 1% of global car stock in 2019, registered a 40% year-on-year increase. A main driver is the drastic cost reductions provided by the advancements in the Lithium-ion battery technology. From 2010 to 2018 the cost of a Lithium-ion battery pack dropped by 85%. By 2030 the average cost of a battery pack is expected to be well under $100/kWh. Government subsidies for the battery makers are another reason behind this explosive growth. After all, for electric cars, batteries are the main cost component at around 40% of total costs. However, the EV market growth is expected to slow down, compared to the current pace; the overall car market has contracted in 2019 and 2020 and purchase programs have been reduced in key markets like China and the U.S. Consumers are looking for technology improvements and new models, as the profile is shifting from early adaptors to early and late majority.
The shift from oil to electric may pose potential economic loss for governments, if not properly accounted for. A good example of this can be found in a thesis published by the Scholarship at La Salle University Digital Commons. This paper shows how the increase of EV sales and respectively the increase of EVs as percentage of vehicle stock has a direct impact on the gas tax revenue for each U.S. state. California, the state with most vehicles in the US and the largest gas tax revenue (estimated $8.4 billion in 2019) would lose $27.53 million in 2021 (representing 0.3% of the 2019 estimated revenue) and $532.03 million gross revenue between 2019-2028. This is an important loss, considering that the gas tax is the major source of funds for maintaining, replacing, and constructing state highway and transportation facilities.
As proposed in the paper, this can be adjusted by implementing a yearly EV surcharge. This solution should also be considered in Europe which holds a 39% share of the EV market and an energy tax revenue of over $360 billion in 2019. In this case the energy tax represents all NACE activities plus households, non-residents and not allocated. Energy taxation consists of four kinds of taxes that make up environmental taxes; the rest are being pollution taxes, resource taxes and transportation taxes.
All in all, the sky seems to be the limit regarding the applications and implications of new battery technology. From electric cars, to flying vehicles, from more efficient energy storage grids to soliculture, the eventual economic implications are very hard to predict or even imagine at this point; we cannot help but employ wild guesses and imagine futuristic solutions for tomorrow. The way that we design, produce and utilize batteries in the future seems that will be one of the major catalysts for the eventual transformation of our relationship with energy; that might actually bring humankind one step closer to becoming an eco-friendly species, instead of carving the planet and burning it to power itself.
Co-author: Mihai Petcu