Battery-less storage solutions for large-scale solar and storage
Shakespeare spoke of, “Vaulting ambition which o’er leaps itself and falls upon the other.” He could have meant lithium-ion batteries. They are everywhere, setting fire to power stations, cars and hoverboards, and that was just January 2021. Analysts IDTechEx wrote an article, “Lithium-ion Batteries: 2021 Starts with a Bang (or Two)” recording the deaths.
Battery-less solutions are a new megatrend. They are well progressed at the small end such as heart pacemakers. For some reason, people do not like being chopped open to change their battery. But what of the large end?
Solar power is dropping in cost faster than anything else, so it is gaining share of both grid and microgrid installations. This brings two headaches – dead at night, feeble in winter. This is why the Biden Administration wants to place a big emphasis on long-duration storage. Lithium-ion batteries are the favorite for compensating for this over the coming decade but only for up to a few hours between peak sunshine and peak demand. They self-leak, so longer duration of storage (e.g. no wind for my wind turbines) is inefficient and they are hopelessly incontinent for seasonal storage.
IDTechEx has newly examined the conundrum in reports on battery-less stationary storage and redox flow batteries. It finds that lithium-ion batteries are also in trouble for very large GWh level storage. They add cost issues for toxin recycling, fire suppression, and the fact that you cannot repair them. Consequently, redox flow batteries will grab a share of the several-hours-storage slice of the market such as solar dead at night. Increasingly these will make cheaper real-world electricity in certain duty cycles.
Battery-less solutions are also greener and more economical in an increasing number of cases. They are starting to compete right up to six-month storage with no leakage at all, GWh levels of storage, GW levels of power out, you name it….