Coming straight out of a dystopian science fiction fantasy, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a concept in which people, animals, or objects have distinctive identifiers and the power to transmit data over a network sans human-to-computer or human-to-human communication. Basically, everything from your toaster to toilet would be able to communicate with each other and the outside world. With such an evolution in communications, power sources must follow.
The function of the Internet of Things (IoT), developments in telecommunication networks (LTE), wearable technology with sensors, renewable amalgamation, smart grid, energy storage, and progressions to medical devices are all highly dependent on batteries for their application and performance. It’s no wonder the battery-based energy storage systems market is expected to reach $7 billion by 2020.
“Smart energy, smart mobility, and smart healthcare are the three biggest elements of a smart city that will impact battery demand,” said Suba Arunkumar, Frost & Sullivan’s Energy & Power Systems research manager. “Battery energy storage is anticipated to find mass acceptance and can potentially reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent to 50 percent.”
As predicted, this startling trend is creating a high demand for certain batteries. There are a slew of emerging battery technologies that set themselves apart from prevailing batteries made of lead acid, lithium-ion, and flow batteries.
A thriving movement in wearable devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) is fueling battery manufacturers to heavily invest in fabricating flexible, thin, curved, foldable, pin-sized, and stretchy batteries. Solid-state battery chemistries are quickly gaining traction as a new way to power small electronics that need high energy density.
The most popular battery chemistry is by far lithium-ion, but it is becoming irrelevant as more advanced batteries are being developed. Battery energy innovations like metal-air, flow batteries, and sodium sulphur are all possible alternatives to the overrated lithium-ion type batteries.
With the boom in renewable energy, comes a high demand for battery-based energy storage on both a residential and industrial scale. Income from grid scale Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) is predicted to grow double digits from 2015–2020.
‘No down payment’ is developing as the most accepted business model for mounting battery energy storage systems for commercial and industrial consumers. Integrated battery storage solution providers such as STEM, Sunverge, Green Charge Networks, Solar City, and so on install, retain, control, and preserve these solutions at customer locations. In return, splitting the disparity in funds from peak demand charges with the end-user.
So what’s the next big thing? According to experts, batteries as sensors. “As sensors are integral to smart grids, wearable devices (consumer, healthcare), and connected homes, manufacturers of thin-film and solid-state batteries will feel optimistic about their market prospects,” said technology analysis firm, Frost & Sullivan.
However, advanced battery manufacturers face several challenges. These include market disintegration and numerous producers offering comparable chemistries, which usually confines growth prospects and ends in price wars.