Will CATL’s Zero Degradation Battery Deliver On Its Promises?

Highlights :

  • TENER,  the zero degradation battery promised by CATL has a challenge ahead to deliver on its lofty promises.
Will CATL’s Zero Degradation Battery Deliver On Its Promises?

Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Limited (CATL), the world’s largest Li-ion battery manufacturer announced the launch of TENER last month in Beijing, China. The all-new TENER is dubbed as the world’s first mass-producible energy storage system with zero degradation. In addition, the storage system will also come with a considerable increase in capacity of energy storage.

For three consecutive years, the Chinese battery manufacturer has secured the top spot in global energy storage battery shipments, commanding a 40 per cent share of the market in 2023. According to its most recent annual report, the company’s sales of energy storage battery systems reached 69 GWh in 2023, marking a substantial year-on-year growth of 46.81 per cent. With the release of its latest innovation for mass production, the firm aims to increase its global share. With a dominance of the battery market that seems safe for the near future, CATL’s latest launch is seen as cementing its place as the pre-eminent battery maker worldwide for this decade. 

Here’s 5 ways how TENER is promising to change the battery game. We should know soon enough if it is actually going to deliver on these promises. 

#1 World’s First Mass-producible 5-year Zero Degradation System

‘Zero Degradation’ is a huge accomplishment if it stands true. CATL has claimed TENER to be world’s first mass-producible energy storage system with zero degradation in the first five years of use. This deviates from the usual ‘battery degradation pattern’.

The gradual decline in battery capacity has long been a source of frustration for both users and manufacturers. These concerns frequently arise with lithium-based batteries. Over time, they tend to diminish in capacity, resulting in decreased performance and lifespan. In general, most lithium-ion batteries will degrade to 80 per cent of their full capacities between 500 and 2,000 cycles.  Consequently, older lithium batteries necessitate more frequent charging compared to their newer counterparts. TENER promises to change that. 

By utilizing cutting-edge technologies, such as biomimetic SEI and self-assembled electrolyte technologies, TENER overcomes obstacles to lithium ion movement, maintaining zero degradation in power and capacity. This ensures consistent performance and minimal auxiliary power consumption throughout its entire lifespan, creating an energy storage system that remains “ageless.” It may turn out to be revolutionary for energy storage power plants aiming to meet the requirements of new electric power systems.

#2 Dense Energy Bundles

TENER flaunts immense energy density. As per CATL’s claims, each TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) container comes with a staggering 6.25 MWh of energy capacity – about 430 Wh/L. This translates to a significant 30 per cent higher energy density per unit area, reducing an overall station footprint by about 20 per cent, compared to its previous 5 MWh containerized energy storage system.  To keep this in context, just 4 years back, a 20 feet container or equivalent was hosting battery storage of size 1 MW. 

Apparently, TENER stores more energy in the same amount of space, emerging as a compact and efficient solution for large-scale energy storage projects. In simpler terms, a 200 MWh TENER power station would cover an area of around 4,465 square meters. Yet to be determined is whether there exists any disparity between the stated nameplate capacity and the actual usable energy capacity of this product. In any case, it marks a milestone for LFP batteries used in energy storage, particularly because it is already mass producible.

#3 High Density = Reduced Cost

Another notable aspect extends from the previously mentioned argument. The heightened energy storage per unit area or volume translates to decreased resource demands, particularly in terms of land usage.

While land costs typically constitute a small portion of BESS project expenses, any reduction in these costs is advantageous, particularly considering the prevalent use of 20-foot container designs. TENER pledges to store more power within the same space. Consequently, this also leads to fewer containers, streamlined construction, and reduced Balance of Plant (BoP) costs for systems of equivalent size, enhancing project efficiency and reducing overall expenses.

#4 Back to DC

Most other competitive batteries in the market, such as Tesla’s Megapack, come with integrated inverters paired with each battery module for improved efficiency and increased safety. However, TENER is a DC block product requiring the BESS to install a separate inverter. This implies that a BESS developer needs to acquire a separate inverter. Indeed, the DC block systems may offer more flexibility and compatibility with different types of inverters, allowing for customization and optimization of the system for specific applications. On the flipside, this introduces a little complexity to the system compared to an AC block.

CATL is striving to transition from its original role as an ESS cell and module manufacturer to becoming the leading integrator of DC-block systems. They ventured into the integrated BESS market in 2020 with the EnerOne (221 kWh/m2), followed by the introduction of the EnerC+ (271 kWh/m2) in 2022. TENER is poised to elevate this pursuit to new heights.

#5 Raising the Bar of Safety

Safety remains one of the prime concerns for BESS operators. In its pursuit of what it calls the ‘ultimate safety’, CATL claimed to have reduced the failure rate to the PPB (single defect rate per billion) level for cells used in TENER. Throughout its full lifecycle, the manufacturer claims, this may help in reducing the operating costs and significantly enhance the internal rate of return (IRR) of the system. 

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Junaid Shah

Junaid holds a Master of Engineering degree in Construction & Management. Being a civil engineering postgraduate and using his technical prowess, he has channeled his passion for writing in the environmental niche.