Cost analysis of raw material inputs for electrical energy storage technologies.

We calculate the raw material cost for each technology by multiplying material inventories from the literature with commodity prices of the past 10 years.


The analysis shows that high average material costs can be attributed to technologies designed for high power applications. These require expensive materials to withstand extreme conditions: high electric charge for supercapacitors; low temperatures for superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES); or high velocities for flywheels. Nickel-based batteries exhibit relatively high costs and are subject to high commodity price sensitivity, with raw material costs of 300 US$/kWh in the worst case for nickel-metal hydride. The material costs of other electrochemical storage technologies are also driven by their active materials like platinum, vanadium, lithium and lead and lie between 15 and 90 US$/kWh. Mechanical storage technologies have the lowest material costs below 20 US$/kWh due to the extreme volumes of energy stored.

Figure - The blue bars show the raw material cost of electrical energy storage technologies per system for pumped hydro and compressed air and per pack for all other technologies. The error bars account for variations in each technology’s material inventory and commodity prices over the past 10 years.

We also conduct an in-depth analysis of the raw material costs for lithium-ion battery packs subject to different cathode chemistries.

Nickel and Cobalt based chemistries exhibit the highest average raw material costs compared to Li-manganese or Li-phosphate. Shifting the Nickel-Cobalt ratio towards increased Nickel contents reduces material costs.

Figure - Blue bars show the raw material cost of lithium-ion battery packs with different cathode chemistries (LMO, LFP, NMC, NCA) and graphite anodes (G). The error bars account for variations in each technology’s material inventory and commodity prices over the past 10 years. LMO: Lithium Manganese Oxide, LFP: Lithium Iron Phosphate, NMC: Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide, NCA: Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminium Oxide. NMCxxx denotes molar fraction of respective elements.

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

Oliver Schmidt

Centre for Environmental Policy (CEP)

​South Kensington Campus

Imperial College London

London SW7 2AZ, UK

tel: +44 79 345 487 36