The more energy we can store into batteries, the more technologically advanced we become.
Among all the inventions or technology most understated, batteries might be at the top of the list. They have become commonplace; it's easy to take batteries for granted. From our power banks, smartphones, wireless speakers, cameras, batteries are a normal part of life.
Little is there an understanding of the part battery technology has played in technological revolutions. The evolution of battery technology from Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) to Nickel-metal hydride(Ni-MH) and finally to our current Lithium-ion (Li-ion) does not only mean more capacity. From car phones the size of a brick to an iPhone, the only way that was made possible is by reducing the size and improving capacity. And improving the reliability of these batteries in terms of charge cycles, meaning batteries that can be charged more times without losing too much capacity over time has allowed for technologies like solar power and electric cars as viable.
We can even go as far to say, without these leap in battery technology, there would be no way for us to power such a slim smartphone in the palm of your hands and batteries with minimal charge cycles would make solar power and electric cars an expensive alternative to conventional power plants and cars respectively. Unfortunately for us, we are near the limit Lithium-ion battery can offer us in terms of capacity, especially. Which has caused many technological limitations, such as electric cars, for example, there is only so much battery to car weight ratio and to push electric cars in terms of the range of travel and charge speed, we need something far superiors.
If you can remember when smartphones first came out, it started with essential applications for Facebook and some simple games, and as the capacities of these batteries improved, it paved the way for faster processors and cameras. These, in turn, lead to the development of applications that are more intensive on processors such as rendering apps and 3D gaming apps. Users may complain about the battery life on their phone still appears the same without appreciating how phone makers have always played the balance of battery life and hardware. To put this into context, if we were using a Nokia 3310 with our current battery technology, we may not need to charge our phones for a week. However, this is counter-intuitive; people might forget to charge their phones daily as we do today, which is good practice to maintain our phone's functional reliability.
Digression aside, a battery which can hold two to three times more power than our current technology allows us to inculcate higher functions like plugging in virtual headsets and other peripheral items to our phones as opposed to using our phones itself for the function. Mobile phone docking stations could be made cheaply and more reliable by merely relying on the battery of your phone. Electric cars could travel over a thousand kilometre in one charge, paving the way for driverless vehicles which can reliably drive a thousand kilometres non-stop and resting at pit stops to charge because we humans need to get food to eat. We might even see the rise of short-range domestic aircraft and sea-vessels running on only batteries, keeping emissions and ecological side-effects to a minimum.
Solar cells are improving each year in the amount of energy they can collect throughout the day, now imagine a battery that can collect more than a day's worth of power, maybe even a few day's of power easily in a day. You could blast all the air-conditioning in your homes, keep all the lights on and what have you. And without a care in the world by collecting and using your power, more than you would ever need in a day. And these are the improvements we can imagine. Battery technology is part of technology's quantum infrastructure, especially for mobile technology. Do you think people in the nineties we able to imagine the world today just by battery improvement? People in the sixties and seventies were able to imagine a mobile telephone, but it is hard to think anyone in the nineties being able to imagine a child being able to control his drone toy through an application he downloaded onto his mobile tablet right?
As promising as Tesla's exemplary focus on more reliable Lithium-ion research and development is, what the world needs are an entirely new type of battery. Graphene holds the most potential here as a viable replacement for Lithium-ion. Another tremendous potential battery technology is aluminium-air, perfect for electric cars and demonstrated to carry a charge lasting a car over a thousand kilometres easily. However, it does seem graphene might be the future of battery technology with more and more developments in the technology showing promising results; Batteries that can afford more charge in a smaller space guarantees even thinner smartphones, smaller smart devices and further leaps in IoT technology. But the real change is what we cannot see, which makes it exciting.
It is also in our opinion, that if environmentalist were to focus on pushing battery development as opposed to renewable energy, this would accelerate renewal energy dependence which is primarily held back by energy storage. A new future will emerge with a new battery.