Flow batteries leading the way in lithium-free niches
While lithium-ion is rapidly racing ahead to become the “de facto grid storage solution” and is the most popular technology choice by far, vendors of other types of batteries are also targeting the market, with varying degrees of success.
US firm Navigant Research published ‘Navigant Research Leaderboard: Non-lithium ion batteries for grid storage’, earlier this month, examining the technologies, business models and strategies for commercialisation and larger scale production of energy storage batteries that sit outside the many different sub-chemistries making up the lithium battery market ecosystem.
Lithium remains by far the most popular technology in energy storage. A recent edition of GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association’s jointly-published US Energy Storage Monitor, which gives quarterly updates on deployment figures, notable projects, market design and policies, found 94.2% of energy storage systems installed in Q2 2017 in the US used lithium batteries. Around 5% of the remainder were flow battery projects and a further 0.5% used lead acid.
While that percentage was in fact the first time since 2015 that lithium-ion battery systems had been found by GTM to have less than 95% market share, the lead looks all but unassailable. Indeed, even in longer duration applications of up to four or five hours, as one expert from IHS Market recently told Energy-Storage.News, lithium batteries are starting to have fallen enough in price to make sense.