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Battery breakthrough needed to transition to clean-energy transport

Adoption of cleaner forms of transport, like hybrid and electric cars, has substantially reduced the greenhouse gas emissions attributable to passenger transportation. Other electric-powered mobility services have also emerged to contribute in the acceleration of clean energy transition like EV and electric scooters sharing services, although both have failed to become part of the mainstream for different reasons. However, tackling greenhouse gas emissions from commercial vehicles is essential for the achievement of the net-zero emissions target, since this sector accounts for over 39% of the global road transport CO2 emissions. Not much progress has been achieved in this instance, as the main two shortcomings of the current electric battery technology, being too limited on driving range and too long charging times, are especially noticeable in this segment.

Innovation in electric battery technology is much needed for EV to be a predominant force in all modes of road transport, since these limitations in charging times and driving range virtually disqualifies BEV for long-distance travelling. Recent developments made by battery start-ups QuantumScope and StoreDots, although employing different approaches, have indicated that fast-charging and long-distance EVs could become a reality in the near future. Although the QuantumScope solid-state battery exhibits a significant improvement in energy density and charging times, the rethought lithium battery developed by StoreDots is cheaper to produce and much closer to becoming a finished product. Should these technologies be able to be implemented in EV models in the next 5 years, the net-zero emissions road transport by 2050 would be much more achievable.

However, for EV full implementation across sectors, the battery production capacity needs to be scaled-up accordingly. Ensuring a steady and cost-effective supply of battery materials has been the main hurdle from the beginning for the main EV battery makers. Also, as part of the current push in innovation for clean energy transport, the largest automakers have invested in the development of hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles. This might be the real breakthrough for a zeroemissions transport in the long term, although it is still too early in the development process to be considered for massive implementation as part of the zero-emission plan in the short term due to the greenhouse gas emissions associated to the production of hydrogen.