Li-ion batteries could be the future of energy storage

There is a radical shift in the current trend with respect to the development of alternative fuels and technology. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are slowly integrating themselves into human life whereas Solar and Li-ion batteries are replacing the non-renewable source of energy. Over the past decade, wind farms and solar panels’ prices have come down drastically because of the increased demand-assisted with proper supply. Over the last 18 years, wind energy has scaled itself from 17000 MW to 563,000 MW whereas solar energy is developed from 1250 MW to 485000 MW stating the importance of renewable energy. 

Despite the central government pushing for the increased use of renewable energy, the question of efficiency always remains. There are still concerns over the saved energy in renewable sources. It has remained one of the biggest challenges in the energy sector. In order to address the issue, the industry has resorted to a go-to solution which is Lithium-ion batteries. 

However, Lithium-ion batteries come with an expensive price tag despite a huge drop in their prices. Due to mass industrialization and production, the prices of Li-ion cells have fallen by 85%. Currently, lithium-ion batteries have the capacity to store energy for four hours and price-tag remains an issue. Also, they are considered as both chemical hazards and fire hazards. Also, the discharge of the charge increases over time resulting in lower efficiency. 

There are companies that have come up with a motive to replace or atleast challenge the dominance of Lithium-ion batteries with new technologies. Few of them are flow batteries, thermal batteries and gravity-based batteries which don’t pose the threat like that of Lithium-ion batteries. When there is competition within renewable energies itself, we can say that the time has come to replace fossil fuels. 

Flow batteries are those type of batteries which utilize the chemical components which are dissolved in a solution to produce energy. We can call it an electrochemical cell wherein ion-exchange happens across the membrane. Ion-exchange plays a key role in the production of energy in flow batteries. They don’t pose a fire hazard nor the energy fades over time. Primus Power is one such company that has raised a fund of 100 million dollars for the Research and Development of the Flow batteries. They have already supplied the shipments to Microsoft, a wind turbine company as well as the Department of Defense. Similarly, one more organization named ESS have put a giant stride in terms of flow batteries. They have batteries that can either provide 100 kW per hour for four hours or they can provide 33 Kw per hour for 12 hours. They are backed by Soft Bank Group, Breakthrough Energy and Munich RE. However, flow batteries also suffer from issues like material cost and material availability.

According to recent reports, it is believed that the energy market is set to attract investments up to 620 billion dollars. However, the companies are unsure about the availability of an eco-friendly and sustainable solution despite the investment because of the material availability and costs.