Much of the discussion regarding renewables and energy storage takes place from the perspective of advanced economies that have strong, well developed, and highly reliable grid infrastructure providing power as needed.
What is missed often in these discussions is that while energy storage has an increasingly important role to play in the “strong grid” regions, it has a highly critical, almost essential, role to play in vast regions of the world that are more typically associated with high cost energy, such as islands, weak and/or intermittent grids (which exist on at least three continents), or even no grid at all, which applies to approximately 20% of the global population that is believed to have no access to electric power. From an energy sector perspective, these regions are often referred to as emerging markets.
Researchers at WMG, University of Warwick have formed a new research partnership with battery technology innovators Faradion, and smart energy storage specialists Moixa Technology, to develop sodium-ion cells as a significantly lower cost alternative to lithium-ion batteries for solar energy storage. This collaboration is being part funded by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.
A significant proportion of the cost of current solar energy storage systems comes from the commonly used lithium-ion battery. However by using highly abundant sodium salts rather than lithium, Sodium-ion cells are anticipated to be 30% cheaper to produce. This makes solar storage more accessible and opening up the possibility of domestic renewable energy storage to a greater number of households and businesses worldwide. Developments in this area could lead to a CO2 reduction of 500,000 tonnes each year.