Batteries are growingly flexible, thin, stretchy, curved, foldable, pin-sized and what not. It indicates that much is happening in the energy storage market as wearable devices and internet of things expand vistas for new applications of battery technology.
Frost and Sullivan has published a news analysis on the implications of mega trends on batteries. The market research firm identifies the four mega trends as connectivity and convergence, smart technology, renewable energy future, and health, wellness and well-being.
The report states that from among the options available in battery technology, lithium-ion and primary lithium chemistries remain the preferred choice of manufacturers of IoT sensors, wearable devices and developers of smart cities and storage solutions.
The market for lithium-ion batteries is set to reach $55 billion by 2020, the report adds. At the same time other advanced chemistries such as metal-air, flow batteries, and sodium sulphur should also gain market share.
Solid state battery construction is expected to continue to be the preferred technology in the miniature devices segment as such devices require batteries that provide high energy density.
The developers of thin-film and solid-state batteries are optimistic of their market prospects as sensors are integral to smart grids, wearable devices (consumer, healthcare), and connected homes, which are all set on course to steady growth.
IoT has also helped the development of such applications of technology as remote patient monitoring. Being battery dependent irrespective of the sectors they are utilized in — IT, telecom or healthcare — these devices will contribute significantly to growth in batteries market.
One other market segment that is expected to grow significantly is renewable energy. Wider adoption of renewable energy and smart grids are expected to necessitate residential-, industrial- and grid-scale storage which could generate considerable revenue.
“Smart energy, smart mobility, and smart healthcare are the three biggest elements of a smart city that will impact battery demand,” says Frost & Sullivan Energy & Power Systems Research Manager Suba Arunkumar. “Battery energy storage is anticipated to find mass acceptance and can potentially reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent to 50 percent.”
While the prospects for growth are bright in battery manufacture, market fragmentation as a result of competition could limit growth opportunities and lead to price wars, the report notes.
The poor visibility of batteries compared with the devices themselves will also affect their prospects as the consumers are unlikely to pay adequate attention to their chemistries. They would be more bothered with the equipment as such, the report notes.
According to Suba, more awareness needs to be created on ground-breaking innovations in the battery market to help it improve. “Medical devices have already started employing the world’s smallest battery, the size of a grain of sand, which is available through 3D printing technology,” she observes.
The ‘spray-on’ battery is another cutting-edge technology that can make the surface of almost any material to function as a battery. Developments also promise to drastically reduce recharging time and prolong charge retention of batteries of the future. The technology also makes these storage devices lightweight, thin and flexible.
Ajith Kumar S