Hi-tech battery storage development goes ahead

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The Consortium for Battery Innovation is supporting research to develop battery storage for ‘plug and play’ solar energy systems for US homes.

The project is being undertaken by Silicon Valley storage company Gridtential Energy, which has developed an innovative bipolar battery technology utilising silicon wafers – similar to those in solar cells – in traditional lead batteries to reduce the weight and cost but achieve performance competitive with lithium-ion.

The new research project will combine this so-called Silicon Joule technology with testing by Electric Applications Incorporated to develop high voltage reference batteries specifically for behind-the-meter energy storage applications.

“Integrated PV-battery backup system is a fantastic application for Silicon Joule technology due to its superior cycle life, low cost, safety, and recyclability – all of which are of utmost importance to residential consumers and small business owners and set this technology apart from other batteries,” says John Barton, CEO of Gridtential.

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Behind-the-meter energy storage is critical for decarbonisation with systems booming in demand. In the US alone, Wood Mackenzie predicted 430 MW installed in 2020, reflecting an increase of more than 100% over 2019.

The research collaboration will involve constructing mini-systems using Silicon Joule bipolar batteries for testing, with Electric Applications developing an optimised charge scheme to replicate real-life energy storage systems.

The batteries so developed are anticipated to support an acceleration in the uptake of solar systems in homes and small businesses across the US and beyond with the availability of an affordable and easy to connect package.

The initiative forms part of the Consortium for Battery Innovation’s roadmap goals to deliver significant improvements in the performance and lifetime of batteries for energy storage and automotive applications.

In particular the focus is on lead batteries, which traditionally have been the most widely used in automotive and industrial applications and which are expected to continue in significant demand alongside lithium-ion and other emerging technology types.

The Consortium has targeted a 5,000 cycle battery life by 2022 for lead energy storage batteries, an increase of five times that in 2019.