Lithium batteries hinder other energy storage -Lithium - Ion Battery Equipment

Lithium batteries hinder other energy storage development -Lithium - Ion Battery Equipment

A new study from the MIT Energy Initiative warns that the energy storage industry runs the risk of prematurely establishing a dominant technology that could abandon or miss out on a more suitable application of utility-scale energy storage. energy storage technology.

"There's going to be some risk of technology lock-in," said William Bonvillian, one of the authors of the survey study and former director of MIT's Washington office, at a recent event sponsored by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

The dominance of lithium-ion batteries in the market could hinder market entry for energy storage technologies with longer discharges, Bonvillian said. "Some of the technology research that could improve energy storage could be put on hold," he said.

Technology lock-in occurs when this dominant energy storage design introduces alternative methods that perform the same function. This can be beneficial as it accelerates the innovation process and reduces the cost of dominant energy storage technologies, thereby expanding adoption. This is what happened with the development of lithium batteries.

A recent report from research firm GTM Research indicated that lithium batteries had a 98.8% share of the U.S. energy storage market in the fourth quarter of 2017, making the technology the market leader for the 13th consecutive quarter. In another recent report, GTM predicted that storage system prices will decline at an annual rate of 8% through 2022.

Risk of technology lock-in

On the other hand, technological lock-in brings some risks. One of the risks is excessive market concentration. A more worrisome risk, the report said, is that technological innovations that could improve energy storage-led designs will get bogged down and never fully mature.

Lithium batteries are suitable for electric vehicles and electronics, but are not necessarily ideal for the grid, the report authors said, and the market lock-in of lithium batteries makes it difficult for producers of alternative energy storage technologies to survive in the market, let alone continue to innovate and scale. develop. This could prevent the entry of more optimized alternative energy storage technologies that may have longer discharge times and longer cycle life.(Lithium - Ion Battery Equipment)

David Hart is a senior fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and one of the authors of the survey. He pointed out that two signs have emerged so far. "The advantages of lithium batteries have made it difficult for alternative energy storage technologies to enter the implementation stage, and companies on a global scale are expanding lithium battery production." Hart said. The report shows that the world's top five lithium battery producers plan to triple their production by 2020.

Solar cells have a similar development model. Manufacturers of solar power products have ramped up production of photovoltaic panels, also putting pressure on manufacturers of alternative solar technologies, even forcing them out of the market.

In April 2017, two U.S. manufacturers of solar products, Suniva and SolarWorld, filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) about such trade practices. In January, the commission announced a 30 percent tariff on foreign photovoltaic panels.

"There are some issues that have happened and our competitors are not playing by the same rules," Hart said, referring to the increased manufacturing capacity of lithium-ion batteries in some countries. "The U.S. isn't doing that well, and it puts companies at a competitive disadvantage," he said.

Risks of Lithium Batteries

In addition, a lot of money has been poured into projects to expand the production of lithium batteries, which has added pressure on other competitors to compete solely on price. The Li-ion cost curve is the sum of the technologies used in various other applications, but is mainly used in electric vehicles and electronics, so it does not accurately reflect the cost of Li-ion batteries used in practical applications.

The cost of utility-scale lithium batteries has some unique characteristics that are not fully accounted for in many lithium-ion cost curve projections, said David Bradwell, CTO, co-founder and senior vice president of commercialization at flow battery maker Ambri Corp. reflect.

Lithium batteries are also vulnerable to raw material risks, Bradwell noted, because they use the metal cobalt, which has recently doubled in price. Nickel can also be used as an alternative, but the tradeoff is that it will reduce the cycle life of lithium batteries. "It's fine for electric vehicle applications, but it's not suitable for grid applications," Bradwell said.



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