Batteries and their materials are a bright spot for Australia

Black Tesla Model S electric car at a Tesla supercharger charging station. Photo: iStock

A recent report by the federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science notes that global battery markets have entered a period of extremely rapid growth in recent years.

Rising demand for renewable energy and electric vehicles is driving significant R&D and strong growth in battery production around the world. The advent of the Internet of Things (IOT) and connected devices is likely to continue to add to this growing demand.

Commodities used to make batteries — notably lithium, cobalt and graphite — will consequently be increasingly sought after in the years ahead.

The report notes that battery technology has the ability to revolutionise clean energy, vehicles, and consumer products.

Batteries, smart grids and interconnectors can manage variability and ensure reliable power supply. The internet of things allows utilities to move to “smart grids”, with sensors being used to monitor demand and switch between sources.

Batteries are likely to also play an integral part in the growing market for electric cars. As improvements to range take effect and prices continue to fall, the report states that electric vehicles are forecast to grow from less than 15,000 in 2010 to almost 4 million (or 4 per cent of all cars) by 2020.

However, battery growth also creates opportunities for producers of key commodities, notably lithium, graphite and cobalt. All of these are inputs for battery technology.

Australia is the largest producer of lithium and holds the world’s fourth largest lithium reserves. Australia also has modest reserves of graphite and sizable reserves of cobalt. In each case, the report notes there is significant untapped potential, with mining projects progressing rapidly.

Australian businesses need to be aware of these rapidly changing technologies and the opportunities they present. Apart from being involved in commodity production, Australia can benefit from implementing “smart” technologies to improve efficiency in areas from power grids to transport and commercial buildings.

Source: Department of Industry, Innovation & Science

To learn more about the opportunities offered by the internet of things look out for the BI Research Connected World report coming soon.

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