New lead battery technology could be cheaper solution to store solar energy
US-based engineers have joined forces to develop high-voltage reference batteries for behind-the-meter energy storage applications, based on a bipolar technology that uses silicon wafers in traditional lead batteries.
The wafers are similar to those in photovoltaic cells and the idea is that the development becomes a ‘plug and play’ solar-powered energy storage system.
The bipolar technology is known as Silicon Joule and has been developed by Gridtential Energy with the goal of reducing lead batteries’ weight and achieving a performance competitive with that of lithium-ion batteries but at a lower cost.
Together with Gridtential, the project is being advanced by Electric Applications Incorporated (EAI) and the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI).
The research collaboration will involve building mini-systems using Silicon Joule bipolar batteries for testing, with EAI developing an optimized charge scheme to replicate real-life energy storage systems.
The CBI, on the other hand, will provide its technical roadmap to maximize cycle life and energy throughput – two key technical parameters for renewable energy storage.
“Behind-the-meter (BTM) energy storage is a critical piece for the decarbonization landscape 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 companies said in a media statement. “This is driving the need for affordable, safe, high-performing batteries in easy-to-connect packages that incorporate renewable energy for the residential market.”