A new MIT study shows that the cost of lithium-ion batteries — used to power phones, laptops, and electric vehicles — has fallen by 97 percent over the past three decades.
The research, based on a detailed analysis of battery costs and performance, concluded that the steep drop in costs is comparable to the more widely publicized decline in the cost of photovoltaic cells for solar panels, “which are often held up as kind of the gold standard in clean energy innovation,” said study co-author Jessika Trancik, an associate professor at MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems and Society. She said that the ongoing decline in lithium-ion batteries will have important ramifications for the growing electrification of vehicles and the expanded use of stationary batteries, which can help compensate for the intermittent supply of wind and solar energy.
“I can’t overstate the importance of these trends in clean energy innovation for getting us to where we are right now, where it starts to look like we could see rapid electrification of vehicles and we are seeing the rapid growth of renewable energy technologies,” said Trancik.
She noted that there has been great uncertainty and disagreement over how much the costs of lithium-ion batteries have declined in recent decades, in part because these numbers were closely held corporate data. But the MIT study was able to piece together a picture of those price declines by analyzing all the published literature on the subject going back 30 years.