The Path to Drawdown: Batteries for Electric Vehicles
The first electric vehicle (EV) prototype was built in the early 19th century, but internal combustion engines dominated the automotive landscape since the 1920s because of EVs’ inability to overcome the challenge of building a lightweight, durable battery with adequate range.
Today, that landscape is changing. Because of supportive government policies and declining costs, there are millions of EVs on the road. The difference in their carbon footprint is remarkable. Compared to internal combustion engine vehicles, emissions drop by 50% if an EV’s power comes from the conventional electrical grid. If powered by solar energy, emissions are cut by 95%. And once households purchase EVs, costs to operate and maintain those cars are often cheaper than gas-based cars.
What used to be an obstacle for EVs - the question of how far the car can go on a single charge - is now much less of a concern. The average range of EVs produced in 2020 is about 217.5 miles, up from 124 miles in 2015.
What’s making this increase in mileage possible is the development in battery technology and growth in battery production capacity. The cost of batteries is falling fast as a result. The cost of lithium-ion batteries in particular - the key technology for electrifying transport - has declined sharply in recent years.
But battery production needs to continue scaling massively to keep up with the electrification of the transport sector. According to the IEA:
- <::marker> Global manufacturing operations produced 170 GWh of batteries in 2020
- <::marker> ~3,000 GWh battery production capacity is needed by 2030 to achieve long-term sustainability goals
- <::marker> That’s CAGR of 33.25%