From pv magazine 08/2020
As the worldâ€™s only global research hub dedicated to advanced lead batteries, the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI) is driving research and innovation into this tech. It aims to deliver next-generation batteries to meet increased global demand for renewable energy storage.
Innovation in lead batteries has a long history, with advanced batteries using additives such as carbon to deliver increased performance for the unique demands of energy storage applications, such as operation at partial state-of-charge (PSoC). Due to the intermittent nature of solar and wind power, batteries often do not achieve a full charge/discharge cycle. The ability of a battery to continue performing under these conditions is critical.
Microgrids are a vital energy storage application in which advanced lead batteries are providing crucial power by harnessing solar and wind energy. Microgrid systems offer a very cost-effective and sustainable solution for clean energy generation when paired with lead batteries.
A recent report from the World Economic Forumâ€™s Global Battery Alliance has said that batteries can provide electricity to 600 million people globally who currently have no access. In all parts of the world, communities seeking reliable electricity have turned to microgrids, which can be disconnected from public supply networks and utilize batteries for power from renewable sources.
As demand for batteries continues to soar, itâ€™s vital that technology can adapt and improve. CBIâ€™s technical roadmap for innovation has identified improving cycle life for lead batteries as a critical research goal, to ensure that lead batteries continue delivering in the energy storage market. Improving cycle life, which is the number of charge/discharge cycles a battery can perform before losing performance ability, to 5,000 cycles by 2022 is a core objective.
Recognizing that energy storage underpins a clean energy future, our 2020 research bid has called for projects focused on the utility grid and renewable energy storage, looking to optimize the performance of lead batteries even further for this sector.
The battery landscape is shifting, and the innovation story for lead batteries is not yet at its end. Recent research has been undertaken by CBI in collaboration with its wide membership of battery manufacturers and recyclers, materials suppliers, research and testing institutes, and universities, The research is designed to foster the development of next-generation batteries for increased performance of utility and renewable energy storage applications.
From projects with leading universities such as UCLA visualizing the dynamics of carbon-enhanced electrodes, to collaborating with major national laboratories, CBIâ€™s research program is extensive. A ground-breaking lead battery project organized by CBI alongside Argonne National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy is currently researching cycle life performance improvements using ultra-bright, high-energy synchrotron x-ray beams.
A recent advanced lead battery development uses new architectures to deliver improved performance, increased energy density, and improved cycled life â€“ all essential technical performance requirements for the energy storage market. Bipolar lead batteries are being put through global testing regimes in a specialized research project launched by CBI in collaboration with Advanced Battery Concepts. This project will benchmark performance against known standards to provide insight into the battery capability at PSoC, which is vital for energy storage applications such as microgrids.
Batteries are essential to the future of energy storage. As the transition to renewable energy sources continues across the globe, advanced lead batteries will continue to innovate to meet evolving technical demands and make a clean energy future a reality. Alistair Davidson
Alistair Davidson is the director of the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI). He attended the University of Oxford and obtained a Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh. He has lectured at both Washington State University and the University of Chongqing, China.