Supercapacitors are passing their period of disillusion and seeing growing orders for such things as electric train energy capture. Also added recently is delivery and capture of huge amounts of electricity powering off-road heavy vehicles from mining to military: smaller numbers but huge supercapacitors.
There is a bedrock of ongoing supercapacitor sales initiated long ago. They include highly reliable backup for memory, car braking, bus door opening and wind turbine pitch control, for protecting batteries and fuel cells and for making them perform better. There are grid applications exploiting other benefits. Extrapolate all that and you get well over one billion dollars of sales in ten years from now but it will constitute one hundredth of the sales of lithium-ion batteries at that time despite Li-ion being first commercialised well after supercapacitors.
So why have a webinar sharing research on a new IDTechEx report on the subject? The answer lies in several elephants in the room.
First elephant: Tesla's supercapacitor subsidiary just signed a Geely (Volvo etc) collaboration for supplying the new, potentially multi-billion dollar application of peak shaving in 48V mild hybrid and full hybrid cars.
Second elephant: there are now several research routes to giving supercapacitors the energy density of early lithium-ion batteries and none of the disadvantages of short life, toxicity, poor power density, poor cycle life and so on. That may mean that the large supercapacitor buses in seven countries may lead to more than the five hundred bus sales so far; they may kick out batteries from up to 100,000 urban buses every year.
Third elephant: supercapacitor suppliers promised much lower prices than they have delivered but the Chinese are now on the job.
Fourth elephant: The Lamborghini Terzo Millennio has supercapacitor bodywork. Research on this technology in six countries may lead to what Imperial College London calls "Massless Energy" - the weight of the aircraft or road vehicle drops and more space becomes available because structural supercapacitors take virtually no space or weight. Eat your heart out batteries.
IDTechEx staff are analysts not evangelists however. Until more progress is shown, we forecast the most likely business. However, as this webinar reveals, these major breakthroughs can lead to a supercapacitor market of billions of dollars a year. Indeed, those people from other parts of the EV value chain that attend this webinar will see how supercapacitors will greatly improve the uniques and user benefits of many types of electric vehicle by land, water and air, boosting their commercial prospects. Savvy designers need to get ready to tear up the design manual.