Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Technology Factsheet: Battery Technology

| Fall 2020

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A battery is a device which stores chemical energy and converts it to electrical energy. Battery technology is pervasive for individual consumers and in scaled operations, whether that is through the use of smartphone, automotive vehicles, or even large-scale data centers. The most popular battery type currently is lithium-ion, which ranges in application from powering small cellular devices to the electrical grid.

Advancements in battery technology have been relatively slow due to the complex chemistry involved and the challenges to commercialize while maintaining safety. Improvements in battery technology, though, would mean enhanced energy availability and consumer electronics performance. The promises of emerging battery technology include enhanced smartphone battery life, reliable electric transportation, more efficient energy storage for large-scale buildings, and even energy storage for the grid. New designs could also address environmental and safety concerns regarding raw material sourcing, as well as battery disposal. However, it remains difficult for even the most promising battery experiments to find their way out of research labs and into the devices we carry. Despite these conditions, there are many researchers and innovators working towards the cause.

At a national level, many countries have acknowledged the important role that novel battery technology will play in clean energy production, as well as competitiveness in the automotive sector. Though the United States has regulations of existing technology and investment plans for emerging technology research and development, there is still an observable gap in policy and the public sector engagement. With the emergence of competitive strategies from other nations and blocs, such as the European Union’s Strategic Action Plan on Batteries, it is increasingly important for the U.S. to focus and develop a public approach to battery technology investment that capitalizes on the promises of the technology, while minimizing foreseeable harms.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Remler, Daniel and Supratim Das. “Technology Factsheet: Battery Technology.” Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, Fall 2020.

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