Batteries energy storage battery breakthrough

Published on February 26th, 2016 | by Tina Casey


New “Super Battery” Energy Storage Breakthrough Aims At $54 per kWh

February 26th, 2016 by  

Just a couple of years ago, researchers in the energy storage field were hungrily eyeballing a goal of $100 per kWh for the next generation of low cost, high capacity batteries that could enable electric vehicles to compete with gasmobiles, and it looks like a company called BioSolar is set to blow right past it with a new “super battery” that could achieve $54 per kWh in commercial development. What else did you expect from a company that has a Nobel Prize under its hood?

energy storage battery breakthrough

BioSolar And The Nobel Prize

Before we dig into the new energy storage news, here’s a brief rundown on one of BioSolar’s three scientific advisers, Alan Heeger, who a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2000:

Widely known for his pioneering research in and the co-founding of the field of semiconducting and metallic polymers, Professor Heeger is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2000), the Oliver E. Buckley Prize for Condensed Matter Physics, the Balzan Prize for the Science of New Materials, the President’s Medal for Distinguished Achievement from the University of Pennsylvania, the Chancellor’s Medal from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and honorary doctorates from universities in the United States, Europe and Asia…Prof. Heeger has more than 900 publications in scientific journals and more than 50 patents…

Okay, so on to the energy storage news. BioSolar has a research agreement with the University of California, Santa Barbara, and earlier this week the company and the school reinforced a previous international patent application by jointly filing applications in the US, Canada, and Japan for something called a “multicomponent-approach to enhance stability and capacitance in polymer-hybrid supercapacitors.”

Biomimicry Secrets Of The Super Battery

The new patent milestone is critical because it involves the nut of the new energy storage breakthrough. Here is BioSolar CEO David Lee enthusing over the possibilities:

Rarely does one technology exhibit such potential across so many energy sectors spanning solar, electric vehicles, and traditional charging applications for personal technology use…

The BioSolar energy storage approach solves two core problems of conventional lithium-ion battery technology. One is the cost of materials, and the other is the limited capacity of the cathode compared to the anode (the cathode and anode are the parts of the battery that receive and discharge the current).

BioSolar has solved the cost and capacity problem in one blow, by developing an inexpensive polymer for the cathode:

Our novel high capacity cathode is engineered from a polymer, similar to that of low-cost plastics used in the household. Through a smart chemical design, we are able to make the polymer hold an enormous amount of electrons.


…The estimated raw materials cost of our cathode is similar to that of inexpensive plastics, with a very high possible energy density of 1,000 Wh/kg.

BioSolar’s research also indicates that the new polymer enables batteries to charge and discharge rapidly while far outlasting the lifecycle of conventional lithium-ion energy storage.

According to the company, conventional batteries drop down to 80 percent of their storage capacity after 1,000 charge/discharge cycles. When the new polymer is used in a supercapacitor, BioSolar’s labwork has demonstrated a lifespan of 50,000 cycles without degradation (a supercapacitor is a type of energy storage device that discharges quickly).

It looks like BioSolar has some more work to do before it is ready to publish some definitive conclusions about its energy storage solution for EV batteries, utility scale storage, and other applications that require slower, steadier discharge. However, the company is confident that it is heading down the right track.

Beyond The $100 Energy Storage Mark

BioSolar also seems to be on the right track with its manufacturing model. According to the company, the cathode is manufactured using an energy efficient, non-toxic system, and it is designed as a drop-in solution for existing battery manufacturers, so no retooling is needed. Factoring in the lower cost of the new cathode, BioSolar anticipates a new EV battery, for example, that has double the capacity of a Tesla Model S battery while costing four times less.

The bottom line: BioSolar estimates that if you combine its “Super Cathode” in a full battery with a typical graphite anode, you’ll arrive at $54 per kWh. Here’s the comparison BioSolar developed based on a combination of its internal work, published data, and a model used by Samsung’s Energy Laboratory:

BioSolar energy storage

A couple of years ago, CleanTechnica noted that the new Tesla battery gigafactory was on track to reach the $100 mark, so if the BioSolar R&D bears fruit you might see some retooling going on over there (side note for Tesla fans: the company recently announced that it is discontinuing its 85 kWh battery for the model S).

And…if you’re wondering why the “Solar” is in BioSolar’s name, the company first crossed the CleanTechnica radar back in 2010 for its work in bio-based backing materials for solar panels, made partly from castor bean resin of all things.

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Image credits (screenshots): top via US Department of Energy, bottom via BioSolar.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

  • Jenny

    Moore’s law is not dead!

  • Kenneth

    Like was said in the R Heinlein books, its raining soup, we just need a better collector(solar) to generate power and a better battery to store it, like the ship stones in his stories. I want my ship stone powered flying car…

    • Wayne Williamson

      cool, I haven’t seen the ship stone reference in a long time….although I’ve been hoping for 1 MWh in a cubic meter using lithium ion…..

  • Datwani Chand

    Fossil fuels financial yields are on the decline and with that the economic geography of the world. USA defense industry would also need new war zones with deep pockets to survive. Dynamics are changing and the present century will see some drastic abrupt changes in the global economies. Energy will become differently definitely cheap allowing explosion of economic growth where there is consumption power. Asia will rule.

  • tbhawaiiowan

    Isn’t cheap plastic “cheap” only as long as oil is cheap? Or is this tech based on some sort of non-fossil fuel polymer?

    • Mike Shurtleff

      Plastics are made from oil. Not a large percentage of what oil is used for. Use Solar PV and Storage to replace oil generated electricity in Hawaii and you free up some of that oil supply, small impact. Much larger impact when we start seeing more Wind and Solar PV powering EVs/EREVs. Small trucks and cars account for about 60% of oil use in the US and Globally, major impact. Use of oil to make plastics releases much less CO2 into the air and uses less oil globally. We can also make oil from bio source, plant waste and sewage waste (GTL). Use bio sourced oil to make plastics and it’s a carbon negative process. Carbon locked up the plastic polymer for as long as the plastic lasts, probably a very long time.

      • tbhawaiiowan

        Good answer! Thanks:)

  • neroden

    Vaporware, unfortunately. I know of a thousand things like this which never got commercialized successfully. Don’t get your hopes up.

  • Rob

    The human brain can be a wonderful thing.

  • peterjohn936

    Sounds great. I will put a bottle of champagne in the fridge for the day they sell the first production unit. But you should know that my fridge is large and has a lot of champagne bottles in it that are still waiting to open.

  • Mike Shurtleff

    specifications given: $54/kWh, 50,000 cycles, 459 kWh/kg
    Thank You!!! Amazing!!!
    It will be interesting to see if this turns out to be a real possibility.
    Hope for the future is nice!
    Thanks again, mike

  • ROBwithaB

    Wow. Tina managed to cram in pretty much all the battery buzzwords into a single article.
    Well done.
    Now I just have to wait a decade or two before I find out if this is vapourware or not…

  • CMCNestT .

    “According to the company, the cathode is manufactured using an energy efficient, non-toxic system, and it is designed as a drop-in solution for existing battery manufacturers, so no retooling is needed. ”

    “A couple of years ago, CleanTechnica noted that the new Tesla battery gigafactory was on track to reach the $100 mark, so if the BioSolar R&D bears fruit you might see some retooling going on over there”

    So which sentence is true and which is false?

  • omar

    We need more comments to clarify what’s going on

    • Carl Raymond S

      Yeah, I no longer get excited about news reports of lab breakthroughs, until such time as they produce a real product. Even a prototype isn’t proof – if the process is slow, expensive, difficult, or the product has life span issues. The Nobel prize recipient as adviser perhaps gives this one a higher probability of producing something.

      Which is not to say that the EV revolution isn’t already exciting. Model 3 is a game changer with or without better chemistry. Breakthroughs, big or small, are inevitable as the battery industry scales and more money, people and angles of attack are applied. This may be big, or small, or nothing at all.

      As JB Straubel has noted – a factor of 2 improvement in batteries is huge in its implications. (It’s not like our PC where we’d need a 10x gain in clock speed to notice any difference) We know that Moore’s law doesn’t apply, but that’s OK, small gains here are big gains. Like putting a horseshoe in the glove that delivers the KO punch to the ICEV makers.

  • JamesWimberley

    The fundamental chemistry has a lot of credibility from the lead scientist’s CV. None of us has any insight as to the venture’s chances of success. The technology looks genuine, the economic projections are vapourware guesses. All we can take away is that there is one more entrant in the race to gasoline-parity batteries, so their arrival is slightly more probable than before.

    By “gasoline parity” , I mean a battery power train that offers comparable performance to an ICE one at comparable cost. “Comparable” here has to mean “in an overall assessment”, not in every feature. My ICEV (VW Touran) has a range of over 700 km, but this is unnecessarily high. EV torque is higher already. The motors, controls, and brakes are there already, so parity depends entirely on batteries.

    • SecularAnimist

      Yes. Indeed the EV drive train is vastly superior to the ICE drive train in every way. All that’s needed is parity between the battery and the gas tank.

      • Carl Raymond S

        No, an EV with less range than an ICEV will save a typical owner many hours over the course of a typical year’s driving. Never forget that you wake up every morning with a full ‘tank’ in your EV. On two to four days each week, as her tank starts to empty, the ICEV driver gets into a car that has less range than the EV, until such time as she refuels.

        An EV only needs two thirds the range of the ICEV to win on convenience, unless the owner takes way more than an average number of road trips.

        The Model 3 and Bolt bring parity, and every year after, the ICEV will be further marginalised.

        • Jenny Sommer

          Actually most people won’t charge at home.

          • Carl Raymond S

            Work charging – same same – or better because there’s more solar.

          • Jenny Sommer

            Don’t think so.
            Maybe you don’t come around much.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Carl is Australian and in Australia the majority of privately owned vehicles spend most of the day parked at home. And most people work during the day here and there is definitely more solar electricity produced during the day. At around 1:00 pm here in South Australia today rooftop solar was providing over 27% of the state’s electricity consumption. In Queensland, about 12%.

          • Mike Shurtleff

            In the US (probably North America) vehicles are parked 97% of the time. (I have a link to that study somewhere.) Solar PV covers for parking lots and home car ports are being installed in California. Most EV owners at this point are in fact charging at home.

          • JamesWimberley

            Huh? The trickle charger at night is the cheap one, and ToD pricing plus conscience will reinforce the effect of convenience. The car-owners who can’t charge at home will be a minority city-dwellers in row houses with street parking, or in unequipped blocks of flats.

          • Jenny Sommer

            The majority of people parks on the streets.

          • neroden

            Simply false. The majority of car owners park in private driveways, in private garages, or at least in front of private houses. There are a few cities which aren’t like that (New York, for example).

          • Jenny Sommer

            That’s my point. It depends completely on where you live.
            For most European cities it is totally true.
            If you really need to you can still get some garages though…

        • JamesWimberley

          All I was doing was trying to work up a workable concept of parity across a variety of parameters. Parity does not mean “cheaper and better for everybody”, just “as cheap overall for the average user at overall equivalent quality”. People have different priorities. Eventually evs will be better at everything.

    • Jenny Sommer

      I don’t care for torque. We pay more taxes for higher HP cars. Going from 150PS to ~100 saves me 400€/a.
      EVs are exempt though…for the moment. But one EVs sell on their own the government will find new ways to get those cars on cost parity with more expensive ICEVs.

  • Oscar Martín

    I hope they could adapt this technology for sodium, perhaps with less energy density, but so scalable that home, industrial and EV chargers become cheap and worldwide without generate too stress on lithium reserves.

  • Jamset

    Solid-state lithium seems closer to market.

    With Dyson and Bosch.

  • Necro Nomaken

    There are so many factors that this doesn’t cover. How does it fair in different temperatures? How fast does it charge? How long does it last(time, not charge cycles)?

    I’m not shitting on the technology. But i am merely optimistic, not secure in the knowledge that we’re set. In fact, if this technology DOES pan out, Musk will happily buy this technology up and start manufacturing it instead of lithium ion.

    • AllenHans

      Their battery would still be lithium ion. They’re only talking about replacing the cathode as far as I can tell. A lot of research is focused in this direction since the cathode is the weak link in the current Li battery architecture.

      None of us have any insight into the hurdles they still face, so it’s impossible to say how likely this is to pan out. But the fact that they’re proposing a modification to the current Li architecture not a complete replacement give it a better chance of success than your average lab breakthrough.

      • omar

        They talk about capacitor , there might be no electrolyte

      • Sreehari Variar

        ha ha.. your average lab breakthrough!

    • Andre Needham

      Also, there’s no listing of power density, only energy density. Might that be because it has low power density? No way to tell. An electric car with a battery with low power density wouldn’t be very fun to drive (poor acceleration, probably poor charge time).
      It’s also confusing when 90% of the time the article discusses batteries but 10% of the time talks about using the polymer in a supercapacitor. Example: the part that talks about “50,000 cycles” is actually about supercapacitors. How many charge cycles does a battery using the polymer get?

      • Omega Centauri

        I would agree. supercapacitor versus battery seems to have been used interchangeably here. Supercapacitor generally implies very high
        power density is possible. But, it also normally inplies much lower energy density.

  • Mike Dill

    They are aiming at a moving target, as Tesla Energy will be below $100/kWh in three or four years, and will continue down that cost curve. If they can get this into production in a short amount of time they have a chance.
    While I like this, this is probably another concept that will take another decade before we see it in production.

    • Jenny Sommer

      Then again their battery would be worth a premium at double the energy density.

  • omar

    This is breaking we need still more explanations.

  • Freddy D

    The world is still “hungrily eyeballing $100/kWh” for battery storage. Still in the lab apparently.

    Nevertheless, this idea is encouraging. The holy grail, of course, is a structure that’s engineered and optimized at the atomic and molecular level, like a protein or enzyme or modern day microprocessor where every atom is in s particular place for a particular function. This is a nice step closer. Caveat: isn’t the graphite the most expensive part of a battery today by a long shot?

    While we’re on this idea of highly engineered structures, how about an artificial leaf that electrolyzes hydrogen from sunlight directly. This could really be done and requires a massive parallel R&D effort across universities. Why does this matter? It may be the only way to power airlplanes, ships, boats, bulldozers, etc etc in a renewable fashion.

    • Riely Rumfort

      The electric leaf has been attempted..

      • Freddy D

        Yes indeed, precisely. “Attempted” but never worked out. Much R&D ahead to get it working and do so at a competitive price.

        • Riely Rumfort

          Yeah, just doesn’t seem a cost competitive at the present technologic level. I could see R&D being worth it in 10 years.

      • Roger Lambert

        I thought we have had working hydrogen fuel cells for decades – I saw one making hydrogen bubbles when irradiated by a flashlight ~thirty years ago on a Sixty Minutes segment. They emphasized that that the splitting took place without a phase change on the membrane which absorbed the photons.

        • Riely Rumfort

          A bio-chemical leaf would be magnitudes more efficient and conceivably cheaper.

    • Mike Dill

      The graphite is relatively cheap. The Lithium is also relatively inexpensive. The nickel-cobalt in the (NCA) cathode is the expensive part. When we we replace the cobalt with something else (possibly sulfur?) the price should drop by about 10 to 20 percent.

      • Freddy D

        Thanks. So if thier device is much cheaper, we can hope for a 10-20% drop. And, apparently if performance is 2x or 4x better overall, then price /kWh drops a lot.

    • Mike Shurtleff

      How about efficient Solar PV with electrolysis derived H2 being used to produce synfuel more efficiently from bio-waste? Better seasonal storage options. (Note: NG leak in California. Containing H2 for months is harder to do.) Distribution usage network is already in place.

      How about use of the methane from all our sewage output? Lower hanging fruit. Smelly, but certainly good for seasonal electricity production. Winter heat in the upper half of the US!

      Biological photosythesis is not very efficient. Artificial leaf is not anywhere near practical yet.

    • neroden

      You can get *much* higher energy density for your batteries by storing energy in magnetic fields rather than electric fields. Unfortunately it hasn’t been commercialized yet.

  • vensonata

    The jaded veterans of battery world are sighing deeply…here we go again. But hope springs eternal in the breast of man, maybe this time.

    • Riely Rumfort

      I’d say we at least need one produced/tested first.

      • Omega Centauri

        And even if one can be made in the lab, years of work will be needed, especially on the fire-safety of the product. If they have to start messing with the chemistry in order to achieve safety/stability the advantages might start going away.

        I sure hope this will pan put, but I won’t be holding my breath.

    • Karl the brewer

      “Hope…which is whispered from Pandora’s box only after all the other plagues and sorrows had escaped, is the best and last of all things. Without it, there is only time. And time pushes at our backs like a centrifuge, forcing us outward and away, until it nudges us into oblivion.” – Ian Caldwell

      • vensonata .

        Nice. There should be more expansive literary quotes on Cleantechnica. Sometimes the comments are so sparse and blunt they seem to have come through a telegraph key.

        • Tim

          Karl the Brewer saw it on a bottle cap.

          • vensonata

            Actually that is a brilliant idea. And I am not kidding. More good literature on bottle caps, or on the sides of beer bottles or cereal packages.

            “The quality of mercy is not strained.

            It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

            Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:
            It blesseth him that gives and him that takes”
            Now why can’t that be on a beer bottle?

          • Tim

            I’d like to see the Constitution on a bottle cap. Small print, of course. If one were to read the 2nd amendment on a bottle cap, we might better interpret that one sentence. It’s something like: In order to form a well-regulated militia, the right to bear arms by the people shall not be abridged.

            Note the well-regulated part

        • ROBwithaB

          Bob on the beat begets brevity.

    • J_JamesM

      At least there has been a fairly constant (and slow) improvement in cost and capacity thus far. If that trend continues, we won’t need a magical silver bullet- only time and incremental progress.

  • Deep Time

    If they can make this work you can stick a fork in fossil fuels. At that cost there would simply be no competition.

    400 miles a charge would be standard, double the battery pack and you would get a ridiculous range of 800 miles! At half the cost!

    • There is not much point of more than 300 mile battery capacity if recharge time can be brought down to 30 minutes to 80% SOC. Supercap style batteries may be able to charge even faster.

      • PidgeonHoled

        Because I have an a$$ of steel and don’t want to stop if I don’t have to. Why are so many people on this site determined to determine what everyone else should want or need. What if I want to go off grid for a week camping? Gas/charging stations could be the last thing on my mind for a couple of weeks of tooling around on end. How relaxing would that be. At this cost, why not? Power outage at home? Solar panel issue/cloudy for several days…no problem, hook up the car. Why stop at 800 miles/juice…go for a nice round thousand. Gotta tow a boat a few hundred miles? No problem. Better yet, make it modular so I can power the boat too.

      • CMCNestT .

        There is a lot of point to more than 300 ideal miles in Summer.

        Below zero temps, with heater on full blast towing 5k lbs on snow covered roads for example.

      • Hank1946

        That only works if you don’t drive like me! I once drove from Santa Fe Springs Ca. to Fernandina beach Florida in 49 and 1/2 hours! I would stop at a gas station next to a burger joint and 5 minutes to use the restroom usually during the time I could fill the tank. I could make it to the next gas stop but my wife had to carry a cup to make it. Now I admit that was 45 years ago and I might now stop longer but I don’t want to as every hour stoped I can be 50 to 70 miles down the road. So a 30 minute stop every 240 miles at 80% discharge does not work for me. Also what happens if I get there and all spaces are in use and maybe a line of cars now the time could be 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours or more. What if they are all out of service. Any number of problems can come up! I would like to see modular batteries that you could buy and have say a small trailer like they pull behind motorcycles that plug into the vehicle and you could add modules so you can extend range to whatever you want then when at home use to run your house or maybe a lake house or camping.

        • Tim

          Was that trip made before planes were a thing?

          • jeffhre

            Planes – what about quickie divorces?

            (I could make it to the next gas stop but my wife had to carry a cup to make it.)

          • Tim

            I know, right? I feel like I’m in the backseat. I need to cover my eyes now.

        • lump1

          Wouldn’t it be strange to buy car that is substantially more expensive, heavier and clumsier, just for the sake of making this kind of trip 2% faster? It might make sense if you did coast-to-coast drives all the time, but you don’t.

        • Mike

          Sounds like my nonstop trip from Vancouver down thru Seattle, Chicago, Detriot to Toronto about 45 years ago. 42.5 hours. Ah, good times

        • rexalfielee

          Don’t forget that accidents happen when you don’t take breaks…

      • Of *course* there is! I have never been stranded for lack of gas, because I kept my gas tank (back when I drove a car with a gas tank) at least half full – part of being a “reliable” parent always ready for the next crisis and a “Be Prepared™” Eagle Scout.

        So if I want to have 300 miles of range at the ready, I would shell out a bit more and buy a 500 mile battery. “A bit more” being 200 extra miles at 4 miles / kWh and $54 / kWh, or a $2,700 premium on a $33,000 car.

        Well worth it – to me.

        • Tim

          I love that the Boy Scouts trade marked a cursory phrase to legally stake out a parenting point I guess. I wonder if I could trade mark the phrase, “I gotta take a shit.” How much $$ could I make?!!

    • Stephen YCheck

      I hope this isn’t vaporware.

      • I too, but it like is …

    • Karl the brewer

      Every fibre of my being is praying for this to come true and then I would love to see the look on the faces of all the FF CEO’s when it goes into production 🙂

      • Calamity_Jean

        The Koch brothers would each have tantrums and die of apoplexy.

    • Jenny Sommer

      Double the density/bring down cost and you can built a lot heavier cars/trucks with acceptable range 😉

      • Burnerjack

        I can tell you first hand that an all electric service van/truck with adequate range and a reasonable price would be a runaway success. They would not be able to satisfy the demand quick enough. Fuel is a major cost component for all consumer service providers.

        • Jenny Sommer

          You can buy a 300km Mercedes Sprinter Van here for 70k€. A company named Kreisel builts them.
          BYD sells electric trucks. DHL in Shenzhen is going to run them. T3/T5/T7 if I remember correctly.

          • Burnerjack

            Back to that “reasonable price” thing…When doing the proper business calculations, one must figure ROI based on full savings vs. added capital expenditure. From where I’m at right now, it STILL doesn’t make financial sense.

    • vensonata .

      Nobody has computed the price per kwh. If this battery is even 5000 cycles, and they are talking about many thousands more than that, then it is 1 cent per kwh. Basically the cost of storage just disappears. Imagine adding PV at 5 cents kwh to storage at 1 cent kwh and having continuous power available for 6 cents kwh …half the average grid residential price right now.

      • Mike Shurtleff

        specifications given: $54/kWh, 50,000 cycles, 459 kWh/kg

        80% capacity at 50,000 cycles, assuming 70% DoD since it’s not given here:
        Average capacity over the 50,000 cycles is 90%.
        $54.00/kWh / 50,000 = 5400c/kWh / 50,000 = 0.108c/kWh over cycle life
        0.108c/kWh / (0.90 real capacity x 0.70 DoD) = 0.108 / (0.63) =
        0.17c/kWh storage cost.

        I’m still missing turn around efficiency for stored energy, but that depends on the cost of the energy being stored and most lithium batteries are easily over 90% for returned energy from storage.
        Store 10kWh generated at 5c/kWh from Solar PV, 50c total. Get 9kWh back out. 50c / 9 kWh = 5.56c/kWh
        Additional cost of 0.56c/kWh for storing 5c/kWh Solar PV

        Total storage cost 0.17c/kWh + 0.56c/kWh = 0.73 c/kWh for storing 5c/kWh Solar PV (less for storing 3c/kWh Wind)

        0.73c/kWh storage cost would be remarkable …very disruptive

        We don’t know shelf life of this battery and they have to bring this from the lab into production. I hope this is not another EESTOR. We’ll see. If it is real, then they should have an easy time finding investment money to scale fast.

        50,000 cycles / 365 = 137 years for daily Solar PV store assuming no shelf life aging issues. A battery that would out last a several EVs and most homes. That would be amazing.

        • Jens Stubbe

          You have to have all the tech that support the battery as well and usually electronics does not handle 137 years.

          Any battery performs well if the energy seep in and out but the performance is lower if you flush energy in and out.

          Over time all batteries degrade performance.

          All Lithium ion batteries has a slow creeping loss of power that increase with wear due to Lithium plating issues.

          You only get the kind of idealized conditions you sketch for your calculations in countries very close to equator because you have to have steady insolation and temperatures and electricity consumption to be able to match the size of the battery, the solar system and your consumption perfectly.

          In about 10 years solar will be closer to 3 US cent so grid deflectors will be able to leave the grid in far greater numbers simply by over provisioning both solar system and the battery.

          Ps. You completely forgot to factor in interest and cost of decommissioning and cost of installation and cost of maintenance.

          • Mike Shurtleff

            Good point on the electronics and yes I neglected financing costs, installation, and decommissioning. I don’t think those are going to be large cost factors. Replacing high power electronics might be the largest, but those costs are falling over time just as battery costs are, probably more slowly.

            Yes, batteries make economical sense for grid power regulation and Solar PV because of the regular cycling needed. In 10 years with Solar PV closer to 3c/kWh, than Solar PV + Storage will make even more sense. Seems like we may agree on that point.

            “You only get the kind of idealized conditions you sketch for your calculations in countries very close to equator”
            Yes and No. Daily storage of Solar PV is going to be very practical in some areas of Southern California throughout the year, for example Palm Desert area. That’s roughly 30 degrees latitude. There’s a lot of area on Earth, with a very large percentage of humans, in that band between 30 degrees North and 30 degrees South. Try flying from Palm Desert area to Mexico City and see what there is down below you. Did that from Seattle once. There’s enough desert Solar PV resources there to power the World a number of times over. (I”m not just guessing here. There are maps of the area required and I’ve done that calculation myself.)

            It’s not a one solution fits all problem, but I think Solar PV + Storage will be a large part of the energy solution in the future. Off grid in some dry desert areas. On grid in some wet areas, or crowded city areas. Certainly Wind, geothermal, and other sources (including synfuel + methane from waste) in other areas. All of this is already happening.

          • Jens Stubbe

            The best strategy would be a nationalized separated from electricity generation. The grid deflector movement could force that plan because the business model for grids with a critical mass of grid deflection will implode when still fewer grid captives are servicing grid cost.

            The cost of electricity generation has plummeted over the last five years and is sure to keep plummeting simply because wind and solar is not stopping technical development and now are under grid parity in most places around the globe.

            Fossil power in the grid will become unviable within the next decade if the majors in solar and wind perform to their own projections – projections that they systematically and constantly have over fulfilled in the past. It is only EIA, IEA, BP and the likes that are still delusional.

            When most people talk of grid storage they think from the perspective of grid deflectors or form the perspective of overtaking the market position of peak power plants. This is however only the fast fluctuating tip of the real storage demand whereas the huge bulk of the storage need will be far deeper storage with less electrons going in and out of storage.

            In US the average electricity consumption is roughly 50% of the maximum consumption and the minimum consumption is roughly 25% of the maximum consumption. If you combine all batteries ever produced you end up with a few minutes worth of storage.

            In Denmark you need two whole days of average consumption storage to be absolutely sure that you can power the nation at all times in island mode by wind energy only provided you use state of the art wind turbines. USA is a larger country with hydro, geothermal, solar, HVDC averaging over large geographic areas and biomass power, and possibly OTEC, Osmotic power, nuclear and wave power etc. plus you can start employing smart grid to control supply to electricity consumers such as Synfuel plants, which will allow the system to run with renewable energy over provision. Based upon this I do not see batteries as relevant for grid storage.

            If we assume batteries require free transport to and from via the grid and assume that they can return each electricity all cost included for $0.015/kWh then they need to buy electricity for $0.005/kWh to return electricity at the same $0.02/kWh as new installed wind power can produce it for on average by 2025 without subsidies.

            If you instead sell the electricity to Synfuel plants at $0.005/kWh and we assume that Synfuel plants once developed to commercial scale will match the OPEX and Capex of refineries except for the respective input of electricity and crude oil then one barrel of refined fluid fuels will require $10.5/barrel of electricity and $25/barrel processing, which makes the high quality Synfuels comfortably cheaper than the current cheap fuels.

            If you assume a factor 4 over provision then the grid can deliver electricity on demand at $0.065/kWh (4x$0.02/kWh – 3X0,005/kWh) but exclusive the cost associated with running the grid.

            This lump sum can be considerably lower if the other by products from Synfuels are factored in such as clean fresh water, minerals, metals etc.

            On the other hand I have not factored in to cost of keeping more expensive electricity generation (solar, geothermal, nuclear, OTEC, biomass, wave power etc.) on the grid. However I think the choice to keep a diverse port folio of renewable technologies and to service a modern national grid are strategic decisions that could easily be funded by just terminating the huge fossil and nuclear subsidies.

        • vensonata

          Yes, the problem of long life. It is the same for ultracapacitors they can have 500,000 cycles! Irrelevant unless we can cycle 100 times a day. That is why I put 10,000 cycles as the upper limit of my considerations for economics. Now if we are talking storage only for winter or several days cloudy periods then even 5000 cycles is too much. I would be well pleased with 2000 cycles for $50 kwh. 2.5 cents kwh…bring it on.

          • Mike Shurtleff

            “I would be well pleased with 2000 cycles for $50 kwh. 2.5 cents kwh…bring it on.”
            Yes, spot on! …but not even as good as $100/kWh with 5,000 cycles which Tesla has their sites on …and others. 😀

          • vensonata

            Actually this is a very important point which has taken some years to come into focus for me. Here is the issue: Battery research has concluded that “higher cycle life is necessary for economic acceptance”. They are really good with batteries, but the wider picture alters this perspective. Think about this. Which would you rather have, a 1000 cycle battery for $50 KWh or a 2000 cycle battery for $100 kwh? Most people would say “their price per kwh is the same, so I will take the 2000 cycle battery”. But what if you want to store 5 days of electricity? Now your 5 days at 2000 cycles gives you 10,000 days or close to 30 years. The 1000 cycle battery times 5 days is 15 years. A more realistic time frame for actual use of the cycle life.
            5-7 days storage is very common for off grid use of batteries. That is why cycle life is suddenly a non issue. The cost per kwh is the really critical factor and at $50 kwh or less you are have removed most financial barriers.

      • Jens Stubbe

        With this battery or any other battery for that matter you never ever go to one cent per kWh storage.

        Battery storage is economically realistic behind the meter or for a very limited economic case where you run your battery as an arbitrage dealer – buying cheap and selling expensive.

        However the arbitrage model without free transport of electricity to and from the battery is very unlikely.

        Also the case for battery storage is getting worse all the time because of a lot of very positive developments:

        1. Renewables are getting cheaper fast, which limits the value of the current going in and out of the battery.

        2. HVDC grid expansion reduce the price fluctuations and thus the margins you can get from buying cheap and selling expensive.

        3. Capacity factors keeps growing further limiting the fluctuations.

        4. Smart grid thinking creates still more opportunities for power consumption when there is excess power.

        5. Synfuel production is more attractive for producers of renewable technology because you can then over provision and use cheap electricity to go head on against liquid fossil fuels.

        6. Batteries can never ever become cheap enough to handle long time storage over weeks, months or years. So either they are just used to skim the market or they remain behind the meter.

        Anyway the performance described is not on par with Sakti3 and they are way ahead in researched and published and verified prototypes. Sakti3 is also more levelheaded and has not produced the kind of hype announcements you see in the article. Sakti3 has disclosed the performance of their batteries and the fact that it is solid state with no electrolyte.

        • Mike Shurtleff

          1. For wind yes, because in some areas (Iowa) the wind seems to be blowing all the time somewhere not too far away.
          For Solar PV, nonsense. Solar is the better resource than Wind in some areas and storage allows 24/7 use of Solar PV.

          2. Nope, storage at the end-of-grid competes directly with the grid (including HVDC) in some areas. We’re already seeing this more and more in Australia …just the first place.

          3. Potential for improvement of capacity factors is limited. Better use of energy produced is also enabled by storage. Again, the obvious example of Solar PV.

          4. Same comment for “smart grid thinking” including DR for better use of “excess power”. Limited. Storage enables even more use of that excess power. Also, “smart grid thinking” relies on the utilities participating and exactly the opposite is happening for some utilities, i.e. wishful thinking of the way things should be in many cases. Not the way a technical revolution rolls out.

          5. Agree that synfuel production makes good sense for seasonal storage: several months or weeks. Years? Does anyone even do years of storage?
          That still means storage is going to play a big roll for less than a few days storage. Even if one day and less, then we’re talking a huge roll ….in areas with poor Wind resource, but good Solar resource.

          6. Same comment as 5. They don’t need to get that cheap. There is more than one storage problem. Chemical storage is going to be used heavily for improved grid power flow management and for use of Solar PV over 24 hour day. Both are already being done …without this breakthough …and with current storage costs still well above current storage system production costs. (Powerwall battery cell cost sited here as $200/kWh. Powerwall cost works out to $428/kWh. Obviously includes pack cost and profit.)

          No Sakti3 is not claiming better than this. Ann Marie Sastry has stated a target cost of $100/kWh. I have not seen anything on their cycle life yet. Have you? I am hopeful about Sakti3 as well, but you can definitely have the last word on that one, since we would be arguing over very preliminary and speculative information from both places. Sakti3 is much farther along on the development and even manufacturing curve. I’ll certainly give you that one.

          • Jens Stubbe

            Sakti3 $100/kWh claim is from a Cleantechnica article in 2014 I was however not referring to the cost but rather the performance specs including power density, which is only available to me at least as a per liter value but still very impressive.

            The capacity factors of both solar and wind will grow significantly.

            For roof integrated solar systems the module to inverter ratio and cover will grow as solar modes nears the price of standard top roofing materials and entire solar roofs facing in all directions becomes more standard. This means that nearly all sun hours will be capped by the inverter capacity and/or the accessible battery capacity for grid deflectors.

            Utility scale solar could move to dual axis trackers and could PV or CPV with CSP so solar capacity factors will definitively grow over the coming years.

            As for wind power the capacity growth is also a given thing mostly because the higher hub heights fetch more steady winds but also due to progress in constructive strength and aerodynamics as well as wind farm scale aerodynamics.

            The importance of higher capacity factors is that you require less storage and utilizes the grid more efficiently.

          • Frank

            What makes you think solar capacity factors will improve significantly? More use of trackers? Dual axis trackers?

          • Mike Shurtleff

            He’s also talking about fixed PV facing to the East and West, so aggregate harvest of Solar PV covers more of the day. Actually, lowers the capacity factor for those individual panels and obviously does not fully address 24/7 requirement for electricity.

          • Mike Shurtleff

            Well I’ve seen the video clip from cleantechnica, but also from others. The $100/kWh figure comes from Ann Marie Sastry’s lips (CEO). How real it is I cannot say. Right, I have seen their energy density figure and it is impressive. Not yet available though. I can’t remember if I’ve seen power density, off the top and there is no power density information given for this battery tech. How can you say which would be better? How can you say who will really deliver …yet?

            Capacity factors for Wind will certainly continue to increase. We agree on that one. Higher hub heights, as you say, and improved ability to generate at lower wind speeds are two big factors.

            Solar’s ability to improve capacity factor is completely dependent on storage. The sun does not shine at night! Higher penetrations of Solar need storage. Solar proponents seem to be schizophrenic on this one.

            Yes, in many areas storage will not matter to Solar because there is more wind at night. Yes, in other areas a fairly high penetration of Solar has already proven feasible without storage. Still in area like Hawaii and Australia where very high penetrations of distributed Solar PV make the most sense, due to resource availability, significant use of storage will be needed. This is becoming available due to development for EVs and high demand exactly because of the need for Solar PV energy storage at night.

            CPV is pretty much dead. Just doesn’t seem to be able to compete on cost. Reflectors and concentrators are too costly to allow cost competition with Solar PV, although Sunpower (I think) does seem to have one exception.

            CSP may still be able to compete for 24/7 Solar electricity due to the low cost of thermal storage. Compete for utility solar. That’s a stretch for me. CSP cannot compete at the end-of-grid where the obvious cost advantage is. CSP uses thermal generation, so it requires evaporitive cooling which uses water resources. That’s a problem except close to the sea.

            I’m convinced Solar PV + electrochemical (or pumped hydro) storage is the way to go. You need storage to get high capacity factors with Solar PV, 24/7 power availability. You storage just to fix the 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm “neck of the duck curve” evening demand. West facing PV panels are not enough. It starts to get completely dark about then.

            Higher capacity factors available from Solar PV + Storage are going to mean less use of the grid in areas like Hawaii and Australia and some parts of California …and others, of course.

          • Jens Stubbe

            Mike the capacity factor of a solar system is defined by the rated power of the inverter and the achieved energy harvest. It does not change one bit irrespectively to any number of battery capacity that you use to distribute that energy over time.

            Tracking and enlarged module area relative to inverter capacity are the two ways where you currently can increase the capacity factor the most.

            CPV and CSP are not dead just limited to niches. I know of a successful Danish CSP company with soaring sales for years and a new company that makes extremely cheap complete flat focussing mirrors. Combining CPV and CSV creates very efficient solar technology with semi dispatchable performance, which may suit special niche market.

            The technology I was talking about was however co harvesting of heat for normal PV, which gives you calories usable for electricity production, air condition, heating, drying or ventilation. Since the most efficient PV modules are a far cry from 100% efficient the remaining heat does constitute a reasonable albeit difficult to use energy resource.

    • rexalfielee

      Don’t forget the lifecycle of 50,000 recharges without degradation…

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