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Energy storage deployment and innovation for the clean energy transition


The clean energy transition requires a co-evolution of innovation, investment, and deployment strategies for emerging energy storage technologies. A deeply decarbonized energy system research platform needs materials science advances in battery technology to overcome the intermittency challenges of wind and solar electricity. Simultaneously, policies designed to build market growth and innovation in battery storage may complement cost reductions across a suite of clean energy technologies. Further integration of R&D and deployment of new storage technologies paves a clear route toward cost-effective low-carbon electricity. Here we analyse deployment and innovation using a two-factor model that integrates the value of investment in materials innovation and technology deployment over time from an empirical dataset covering battery storage technology. Complementary advances in battery storage are of utmost importance to decarbonization alongside improvements in renewable electricity sources. We find and chart a viable path to dispatchable US$1 W−1 solar with US$100 kWh−1 battery storage that enables combinations of solar, wind, and storage to compete directly with fossil-based electricity options.

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Figure 1: Learning rates using the traditional one-factor learning curve model for lithium-ion battery storage.
Figure 2: Comparing traditional one-factor models and the two-factor model to historical prices.
Figure 3: US-federal R&D spending from 1976–2016.
Figure 4: Global corporate and VC investment in the energy storage sector.

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We thank the Karsten Family Foundation and the Zaffaroni Family Foundation for generous support. N.K. thanks the NSF-GRFP and Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry (NSF, Grant No. 1144885). F.L. thanks CDTM for ongoing continuous support.

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Authors and Affiliations



N.K. conceived and N.K. and F.L. designed the study. N.K., F.L. and D.M.K. collected data. N.K. and F.L. analysed data and wrote the paper. F.L. ran the statistical test. D.M.K. supervised the research, guided the study, and edited the paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Daniel M. Kammen.

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figures 1–3, Supplementary Tables 1–22, Supplementary Notes 1–3 and Supplementary References. (PDF 578 kb)

Supplementary Data 1

Price, volume, and patent dataset. (XLSX 50 kb)

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Kittner, N., Lill, F. & Kammen, D. Energy storage deployment and innovation for the clean energy transition. Nat Energy 2, 17125 (2017).

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