Co-founder and CEO of Group14, a battery technology company elevating all batteries with silicon to accelerate electrification.
If you follow market trends, you’ve likely noticed that battery technology startups are continuing to receive heavy investor interest despite market volatility. In 2021, electric vehicle battery startup funding tripled year over year, raising more than $3.6 billion, and the momentum continues today. Batteries comprised the largest category for energy tech funding so far in 2022. The key factor driving the accelerated flow of capital is the array of applications that next-generation battery technology will disrupt.
The 4 Major Markets Being Impacted By Electrification
For decades, the same lithium-ion batteries have been the standard for keeping us plugged into modern times. But now, to keep up with soaring energy demand, investors are backing new technologies with greater performance capabilities to reimagine everything we do, touch and use.
Though the use cases are practically never-ending, here are four key markets that new battery technologies can, and likely will, disrupt in the near future.
Mobility as we know it is at an inflection point. We’re witnessing all of the major automakers, like Porsche, Ford and GM, switch to all-electric lineups, with $515 billion projected to be spent on developing electric vehicles by 2030. The market potential is certainly incredible, but the one sticking point for consumers that continues to plague widespread EV adoption is charge anxiety.
A few years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine driving an electric vehicle from San Francisco to Los Angeles on a single charge or topping off the charge in just a few minutes. Now, new battery technologies are dismantling current industry standards, creating parity with traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. These new technologies can be the key to accelerating EV timelines from conception to consumer. We have the opportunity to take a bite out of the 30% of emissions coming from the mobility sector alone as we disrupt everything from lightweight trucks to micro-mobility scooters.
The capacity of the battery in all our electronics has come so far over the last decade. My first cell phone was gigantic, and I could only make a quick call before the battery gave up. Today, my smartphone is less than half the size of that brick, and it’s capable of running dozens of applications at once. As technologies advance, we can expect to see our devices last longer.
Next-generation battery technologies have the potential to open doors to new inventions. They enable engineers to bridge the gap between great ideas and great execution. For example, many consumers have grown accustomed to wireless earbuds and drones for everyday use like photography. All of this was made possible with better battery technologies, so imagine the new crucial—or plain fun—inventions can arrive to market with more complexity and capacity.
A three-hour drive from my company’s first factory in Woodinville, Washington, to another factory in eastern Washington could become a lot shorter with the promise of electric aviation. However, we likely won’t have electric airplanes until battery technologies improve, as planes remain impacted by the problems of weight and power.
New battery technologies can make electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOLs) and electric aviation a more realistic mode of transportation. As we shave off battery weight, we can enable them to go the distance. Opening up airspace to eVTOLs will require batteries to be able to undergo extreme fast charging. Like the fossil fuel-powered planes of today, electric planes will need to recharge fast to allow for more flights (which equals more customers).
Transitioning electric aviation from a novelty to true functionality is what we’ve been waiting for to radically reduce the emissions of every flight. With new battery technologies, we may see cleaner ways to travel the skies in the coming years.
Lithium-ion batteries are still the dominant energy storage technology for large-scale plants to provide grids with renewable energy, even when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. These days, we’re seeing the development of large battery-powered systems, like the world’s largest 400-megawatt capacity Moss Landing battery storage system in California. Even with all the new factories cropping up around the world, experts predict that we won’t have enough capacity to meet today’s consumption demands.
As many U.S. power grids see continued strain and blackouts amid fires, freezes and other factors, keeping the lights on when the grid goes down could be a matter of building new energy storage solutions that supplement existing lithium-ion power.
Our lives are battery-powered, and as the energy transition progresses, batteries will play an even bigger role in our everyday lives. As we explore the possibilities of electrifying key sectors, the technology powering batteries is more important now than ever. This is the reason why the Biden administration has committed $3.1 billion to spur EV battery production, amid other policy changes backing battery technology development and commercialization. For now, as long as manufacturers stay attuned to the new possibilities unlocked by better battery technologies, the world should expect innovation on a never-before-seen level.