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Lithium-ion Batteries Are Expected To Be The Cheapest Option For Power Storage

Feb 19, 2019

According to Joule magazine, British Imperial College of Technology has released a new model predicting that lithium-ion batteries are expected to be the cheapest option for power storage in most application scenarios in the coming decades.

In the 1990s, researchers at Sony Corp. of Japan successfully developed lithium-ion batteries by inserting lithium ions into carbon (petroleum coke and graphite) to form negative electrodes. At that time, traditional lithium-ion batteries used lithium or lithium alloys as negative electrodes. As a rechargeable battery, lithium ion batteries mainly depend on the movement of lithium ions between the positive and negative electrodes. The insertion of lithium ions into carbon not only overcomes the high activity of lithium, but also solves the safety problems of traditional lithium batteries. Oliver Smith, the lead author of the latest research report and scientist at Imperial College of Technology, believes that lithium-ion batteries will dominate most power system applications in the future because of their low cost and excellent performance.

Smith and his team developed a model to analyze the cost trends of nine power storage technologies, including large batteries and pumped storage plants, in 12 application scenarios between 2015 and 2050.

The results show that the most inexpensive way of power storage is pumped storage power station, which pumps water to the upper reservoir by utilizing the surplus electric energy when the load is low, and then generates electricity by discharging water to the lower reservoir when needed. However, according to the model, the cost of pumped storage power station will not decrease further with the passage of time, while the cost of lithium ion battery will continue to decrease.

Lithium-ion batteries are expected to be the cheapest option for power storage starting in 2030, and this conclusion applies to most application scenarios, according to the study. By 2050, the cost advantage of lithium-ion batteries will be more obvious.

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