Battery electric vehicles will make up 50 per cent of car sales worldwide by 2033, and will account for almost every new car sold by 2050, according to projections by Rystad Energy.
EV sales last year accounted for 4.6 per cent of all car sales, and Rystad predicts this figure will quadruple by 2026.
The report, which looks at the role batteries can play in a net zero world, finds batteries could have a direct role in abating 78 per cent of global CO2 emissions, in electricity networks and a wide range of transport, including shipping and aviation.
It predicts battery electric vehicles will dominate the growth of batteries, with demand growing 15 per cent a year between now and 2050.
In 2020, BEVs accounted for 0.23 terawatt hours (TWh). This will rise to 1 TWh by 2024, 4 TWh by 2030, 10 TWh by 2040, and plateauing at around 14 TWh in 2050. By then it predicts passenger cars will account for 70 per cent of demand for batteries.
Europe will lead the growth, with other countries catching by around 2050. As the graph below shows, Africa is the one region where car sales will not by all-electric by 2050.
Beyond passenger EVs, the report is cautiously optimistic about the potential for batteries to be used in shipping and aviation, predicting usage will start to ramp up after 2030.
“In the shipping sector, the main applications for batteries will be for smaller vessels and auxiliary systems for larger vessels. This could change with major technological breakthroughs, for example within lithium air batteries,” Marius Foss, senior vice president and head of global energy systems at Rystad Energy.
“However, this type of breakthrough does not appear to be imminent. Aviation is still at least 10-15 years away from a significant uptick in commercial electric flights.”
He said batteries could only become a central power source in aviation if trends shift to “smaller but more numerous aircrafts”.
The report says for the massive battery uptake needed to decarbonise the world, the cost of batteries must fall considerably.
It predicts demand for batteries in electricity grids – currently negligible – will reach 0.4 TWh by 2025, 2.7 TWh in 2030, plateauing at 10 TWh in the mid-2040s.
It predicts a large portiong of grid demand will be met by repurposed EV batteries, which are generally designed to serve the higher demands of a vehicle for around 15 years.
The report projects around 75 per cent of batteries used in transportation will be repurposed for grid usage, where they will be used for another 10-15 years, after which they could be recycled. Hydro-metallurgical recycling, which can recycle around 90 per cebt of the material in batteries, is the most promising, it says.
The success of what it calls a “battery society” depends on cost. It said there was room for improvement particularly in improved efficiency in the electricity used for drying operations in the chemical processing and cell production phases.
“With new, improved techniques and cheaper electricity, this could be reduced – a potential that will likely soon be realized in cell manufacturing. Additionally, we see a shift towards more vertical integration in the battery industry, with battery producers moving upstream in order to better optimize the mining and processing part of the value chain.”
Interestingly, the report suggested pitted the “battery society” against the hydrogen and carbon capture and storage, saying the latter technologies would only flourish if batteries failed to live up to their promise.
“An important advantage of the Battery Society is the fact that battery manufacturers must only rely on themselves to ramp up battery supply and bring the Battery Society to fruition,” is said.
“The CCS and Hydrogen Societies, on the other hand, are dependent on policy changes and cost developments in other parts of the value chain. In order to succeed, they essentially need batteries to fail.”
James Fernyhough is a reporter at RenewEconomy and The Driven. He has worked at The Australian Financial Review and the Financial Times, and is interested in all things related to climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy.