Lithium Ion To Stay Numero Uno Option for Storage, Say Researchers

A recent three day meeting between researchers from Germany and Israel has concluded  that lithium-ion batteries will continue to rule in the storage space in the near future. Redox flow storage, which has made strides recently, did find a mention for its potential, especially in stationary applications. However, price for Redox flow storage remains a major issue for now, with the technology costing ove twice as much as Lithium Ion storage batteries.

Storage has assumed an increasingly critical role for the growth and impact of the energy transition to clean energy, with storage at scale and lower prices seen as the biggest potential disrupter for the fossil fuel based energy eco-system, which still dominates. Advances in storage are also seen as vital to bring forward existing carbon emission targets, as solar and wind power hit their first challenge of grid stability in an increasing number of markets over the coming two years.

In India,   we have seen how bids for peak electricity demand with a combination of renewable and storage, and the recent Rs 2.90 bid for round the clock supply was met with wide hopes for a second wind it offers to the country’s renewable energy sector.

Sodium Ion batteries also found a mention, especially considering the risk of shortages or supply disruptions for Lithium and Cobalt, key components in Lithium batteries.   However, the researchers, from Germany’s Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU) and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, still believed commercial scale development was some time away, due to cost and stability issues.

India got its first and biggest battery-storage system of 10 MW in 2019 at New Delhi, Tata Power Delhi Distribution installed it at its Rohini sub station. Mainly as a grid balancer, a role that requires storage to step in only in times of instability.

The future is already here, with the recent bids going well beyond that role, and demanding round the clock, or peak power supply from new storage projects. With blended cost of power from storage plus renewable projects competitive with thermal power today. Any rate below Rs 4 kWh is good enough, which explains the response of the power minster to the winning bid of Rs 2.90 made by Renew Power.

The changing dynamics of the transport sector, where EV’s are expected to account for over 30 percent of all vehicles by 2030,  also demands a faster shift in the energy mix, as charging these millions of new EV’s  with coal or even gas powered electricity will take away a significant part of the benefits they deliver to the environment.

At the moment, pump storage, or hydro based storage continues to dominate, the nineteenth century technology proving to be remarkably resilient even as the energy scenario has changed completely since it first made its appearance. Over 90 percent of global storage is still credited to pumped storage for now.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International