Experience curves for electrical energy storage technologies

Electrical energy storage could play a pivotal role in future low-carbon electricity systems, balancing inflexible or intermittent supply with demand. Cost projections are important for understanding this role, but data are scarce and uncertain.

In this project, we construct experience curves to project future prices for 11 electrical energy storage technologies. We find that, regardless of technology, capital costs are on a trajectory towards US$340±60/kWh for installed stationary systems and US$175±25/kWh for battery packs once 1 TWh of capacity is installed for each technology. Bottom-up assessment of material and production costs indicates this price range is not infeasible. Cumulative investments of $175–510bn would be needed for any technology to reach 1 TWh deployment, which could be achieved by 2027–2040 based on market growth projections.

We then explore how the derived rates of future cost reduction influence when storage becomes economically competitive in transport and residential applications. Thus, our experience curve dataset removes a barrier for further study by industry, policymakers and academics.

Figure – Experience curves for EES technologies. Results shown for product prices per nominal energy capacity. Dotted lines represent the resulting experience curves based on linear regression of the data. Top legend indicates technology scope and bottom legend denotes technology (including application and experience rate with uncertainty). Grey bars indicate overarching trend in cost reduction for EES relative to technology maturity.

Schmidt, O., Hawkes, A., Gambhir, A. & Staffell, I. The future cost of electrical energy storage based on experience curves. Nat. Energy 2, 17110 (2017). PublicationDataset