New Battery Could Lead to Cheaper, More Efficient Solar Energy

Lithium-ion battery testing

Lithium-ion battery testing (Photo credit: Argonne National Laboratory)

The research showed that the lithium battery has an energy efficiency of 95 per cent

 
A joint research project between the University of Southampton and lithium battery technology company REAPsystems has found that a new type of battery has the potential to improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of solar power.

The research project, sponsored by REAPsystems, was led by MSc Sustainable Energy Technologies student, Yue Wu and his supervisors Dr Carlos Ponce de Leon, Professor Tom Markvart and Dr John Low (currently working at the University’s Research Institute for Industry, RIfI). The study looked specifically into the use of lithium batteries as an energy storage device in photovoltaic systems.

Student Yue Wu says, “Lead acid batteries are traditionally the energy storage device used for most photovoltaic systems. However, as an energy storage device, lithium batteries, especially the LiFePO4 batteries we used, have more favourable characteristics.”

Data was collected by connecting a lithium iron phosphate battery to a photovoltaic system attached to one of the University’s buildings, using a specifically designed battery management system supplied by REAPsystems.

Yue adds, “the research showed that the lithium battery has an energy efficiency of 95 per cent whereas the lead-acid batteries commonly used today only have around 80 per cent. The weight of the lithium batteries is lower and they have a longer life span than the lead-acid batteries reaching up to 1,600 charge/discharge cycles, meaning they would need to be replaced less frequently.”

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