|New lithium battery technology could change solar power industry
One of the major technological challenges in the push towards a clean energy economy is the expense and capacity of storage batteries. While the sun may shine powerfully during the day, if there is nowhere to store all of this energy until peak-demand in the evening, then the system is not effective. Forking out large amounts of money for batteries push the solar power system’s price tag sky-high, making it unaffordable for many households.
New lithium battery technology and manufacturing methods could play a vital role in improving affordability, allowing solar technology to catch up to demand. While battery storage technology is an important aspect of the solar power industry, with many advances taking place, these are two projects that grabbed our attention. These technological advances could greatly change the solar power industry.
The Tesla Powerwall
On May 2015, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the Powerwall battery, which promises to take homes and businesses off the grid, hopefully in the not-so distant future. This beautiful battery looks more like modern art, replacing the traditional battery bank with a much more economic and innovative solution. The Powerwall has two models, a 10kWh capacity for backup applications and a 7kWh capacity for daily cycle applications.
The first advantage of the Powerwall is cost, as it is up to 50% cheaper when compared with other storage power methods. In addition to that, the device makes use of lithium ion technology rather than traditional lead-acid designs such as deep cycle batteries. This makes the battery much safer.
The Powerwall is also an integrated and automatic solution, which eliminates the hassle of handling traditional battery banks. A further benefit is that the Powerwall isn’t only charged by the photovoltaic (PV) system, but also from the electric utility itself during off-peak hours, when energy is cheaper. The energy stored is then used during peak hours, changing the solar power game completely.
Although it may still be early days, this lithium battery technology will definitely help make battery equipped PV systems more safe, simple and affordable.
Lithium battery manufacturing method breakthrough
A recent lithium battery manufacturing breakthrough, pioneered by MIT researchers and Cambridge-based company 24M, may be able to cut production costs of lithium ion batteries in half, opening up massive opportunities for renewable energy.
After decades of little change in how lithium ion batteries have been produced, MIT professor and 24M co-founder, Yet-Ming Chiang, believes that their team has developed a new manufacturing process that allows for a drastic decrease in battery cost, as well as an increase in durability.
In short, the new process makes use of fewer, much thicker electrodes that allow for a simpler and more efficient battery structure. This manufacturing method reduces the amount of non-functional material in the battery structure by 80%, producing batteries that can be bent, punctured or folded without failing.
Traditional manufacturing demands lengthy reel-to-reel drying spaces, meaning that large factory space is necessary. The 24M design avoids drying altogether, reducing the size of the factory required. This innovative process also reduces manufacturing time by about 80%, completely changing the economics of the solar power industry.
Make your solar power dream a reality with Soventix
With such innovative and exciting technologies taking place, now is definitely a great time to invest in solar power.
South Africa has world class solar power potential, with more than double the solar radiation output of Europe. Besides the advantage of beating Eskom and load shedding, mass clean energy solutions are crucial to preserving our planet.
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