Energy storage is one of the main limitations of solar power.

But a new meta-analysis of the progress of green energy forecasts coming lithium-ion improvements will make electric vehicles as cheap as their gasoline-only counterparts in about a decade – and residential energy storage of solar as economically attractive after 2035.

“In this paper, we construct a comparative appraisal of experience curves for promising electrical energy storage technologies,” the researchers write, in the journal Nature Energy. “We then project future prices on the basis of increase cumulative capacity and test their feasibility against possible cost floors set by material and production costs.”

The Imperial College London team looked at the advancement of various technologies, beyond lithium-ion to include fuel cells, nickel-metal hydride, electrolysis, lead-acid, vanadium redox-flow and other energy production and storage systems.

They assessed various scenarios, including the amount of investment that will be pumped into the research and development of the technologies.

More than 50 sources are referenced, most published within the last five years.

However, the line curve they establish counts on a relatively stable oil price of $50 per barrel for gasoline-powered cars, and a residential power retail price that remains almost constant over the next three decades. 

But there will be a cost to reach a majority of the market: as much as $510 billion in research investments would be needed to reach a single TWh (terawatt-hour) of deployment. The timeframe for that would be between 2027 and 2040, based on the market growth projections.