Batteries

Published on March 24th, 2016 | by Guest Contributor

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LG Chem To Expand Australian Battery Storage Presence

March 24th, 2016 by  

Originally published on RenewEconomy.
By Sophie Vorrath

South Korean lithium-ion battery maker LG Chem has announced plans to expand its presence in the Australian residential solar and battery storage market, following “exponential” growth over the past six months, and chasing even greater growth in what it says could be a “critical decade” for the technology.

Screen-Shot-2016-03-24-at-12.14.15-PMLG Chem launched its lithium-ion 6.4kWh Residential Energy Storage Unit (RESU6.4EX) on the Australian market last July, and has since supplied 600 units via its two main local distributors – Solar Juice and Supply Partners.

The company says it expects to see a five-fold increase on this number in 2016, supplying more than 3000 units for the year, and an even greater rate of growth in 2017, when the country’s remaining high solar FiTs are ratcheted down.

This, combined with the urgency of replying renewables to tackle climate change and encouraging noises of support for from federal and state governments, all point to busy times ahead for battery storage manufacturers, LG says.

“This could be a critical decade for Australia,” said the company’s manager of Australian business development, Changhwan Choi, in a statement on Thursday.

“We see a quiet solar revolution brewing and we strongly believe that LG Chem will be at the forefront of this transformation to help unlock the true value of solar storage and better enable the ecosystem.

“We welcome competition too. We are positive that when more people adopt the RESU6.4EX in Australia, the market will appreciate the quality, efficiency and cost competitiveness of our offering”.

In a telephone interview from Singapore, LG’s Changhwan told One Step that a key difference between his company and a competitor like Tesla was scale. Well established as one of the leading global manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, LG Chem has a good head start on mass-market production.

“We have the biggest manufacturing facility in the world,” he said, which meant that, based on the volume, the batteries could be very competitive on price.

So far, their biggest market for residential batteries has been in Germany, a “very stabilised” market which they started supplying back in 2012.

As well as Australia, Chanhwan says LG Chem is also focusing on the UK market, where the major solar FiT finished last year, and on Italy, which he says is experiencing similar conditions to Australia, with a high penetration of rooftop solar and high electricity costs.

In Australia, Changhwan says LG Chem is also very keen to tap the utility-scale and commercial-sized battery market. The company already has many examples of this installed in the US and Europe, using its 10MWh and 30MWh container batteries.

“We are ready to supply (large-scale battery storage) as soon as the utility companies are ready,” he told OneStep, adding that it was his guess that time would arrive at the end of this year.

On the residential battery front, LG is still hoping for some policy support to fuel uptake, and suggests a key support measures will be to design new “tariffs that can allow consumers to realise the economic benefits of an investment in the technology”, such as pricing structures based on time-of-use.

“With the FiTs finished, there are many, many houses with solar panels that can use battery storage to help reduce their electricity bill,” Changwan told One Step. “They can use the energy from the battery when the electricity cost is high.”

According to the available specs on LG Chem’s RESU6.4EX battery, it is a compact lightweight unit (60kg) and claims to have the highest energy density in the world; that is, the smallest in volume compared to the amount of energy it can deliver.

It is principally designed to be used in conjunction with an inverter to maximise solar self-consumption, but can also be used in an off-grid situation.

The battery systems can be upsized, with the addition of 3.2kWh expansion packs, taking total capacity to 9.6kWh or 12.8kWh energy storage, depending on the household’s needs.

The battery can be cycled (discharged and re-charged) 6000 times to 90 per cent depth of discharge (DoD) and according to one sources, in terms of $/kWh, is believed to be one of the cheapest batteries on the current market. (Prices for the battery appear to be around the $8,000 mark, + GST.)

Reprinted with permission.


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  • Shiggity

    One of the greatest energy transitions in history is happening and no one even knows about it.

    The coal guys control nearly every Australian newspaper / radio station / TV channel.

    Clearly journalistic /salt.

    • Calamity_Jean

      The coal guys are in for a shock. Stand by to laugh at them.

  • eveee

    What? Cheapest? $8000 for 6.4kwhr. They got the capacity copied but they missed the price. Or is that in another currency. Largest manufacturing? There must be an asterisk somewhere. Did the GigaFactory disappear. Maybe they mean cell only. LGChem competes, but I note a tendency towards blusteriness.

    • Bob_Wallace

      LG may have the largest factory, for now. I’m not eager to dump on any battery manufacturer who is making a serious entry into EV battery manufacturing and, based on what I’ve read, LG should be producing about 90% as many cells as Panasonic/Tesla when the Gigafactory opens.

      But what’s been dawning on me is how incredibly efficient the GF approach may turn out to be. Raw materials in one door, finished battery packs and storage units out the other. All sorts of ‘get there in time’/miscommunications problems should be largely eliminated. Packaging up partially completed products and shipping them long distances for the next step in the process gone. One continuous flow from offloading shipments of lithium, steel etc. to sending out finished product.

      As long as most of the input material refinement can be done prior to shipping from the mine/steel mill there should be very large shipping savings. Ship as little stuff that will end up as waste as possible to the GF.

    • Hugo Rhodano

      Hi,
      the GigaFactory from Tesla is not ready yet. And LG Chem has already 4 factories in the US, South Korea and China. LG Chem will build another one in Poland.
      And yes, LG Chems RESU is already market leading product and pricesly best product on the market – not only in Australia, but in Germany, too.
      LG Chem is the leading company in ESS market. I know, Elon is a great marketing guy, but he must prove that GF can compete against hard competitor. With Tesla Model S they did’t have any competitor on the market. So, it was easy for him to sell so many cars but in ESS sector the story is different.
      Better for the consumer.

      • eveee

        Do they have to claim the lowest cost when its not true?

      • Greg Hudson

        I read somewhere that part of the GigaFactory is already being used to build powerwalls? May have been BS, but maybe not? Can anyone confirm ?

      • Greg Hudson

        I read somewhere that part of the GigaFactory is already being used to build powerwalls? May have been BS, but maybe not? Can anyone confirm ?

        • Bob_Wallace

          My understanding is that Panasonic cells are being shipped from other plants and the Powerwalls are being assembled in the GF.

          • Greg Hudson

            Thanks Bob, so I was half right – which is pretty normal for me 😉

          • Greg Hudson

            Thanks Bob, so I was half right – which is pretty normal for me 😉

        • Bob_Wallace

          My understanding is that Panasonic cells are being shipped from other plants and the Powerwalls are being assembled in the GF.

      • eveee

        OK, so provide a reference to LGChem battery costs with all the specs and we can compare with the PowerWall.

    • vensonata

      $8000 Aus. = $5720 U.S. If the number are correct 6000×6.4x .9 = 34,560 kwh. Then there is another average degradation to 80%? which would mean 34,560x .9 = 31,104 kwh lifetime. Now I have not included any round trip efficiency loss because it may have already been deducted to get the 6.4 kwh that we start with.
      Now to determine the price per kwh: 5720 divided by 31,104 = 18 cents kwh levelized cost of electricity. That is about premium lead acid equivalent in the U.S. (Hup solar one comes in at 15 cents kwh, super heavy duty flooded lead acid with free shipping included and all cycle life, inefficiencies etc. figured in to the bottom line).

      • eveee

        Did you notice the degradation spec was for 90% DoD not 100%. Thats a big difference in cycle life making it harder to compare. I am not willing to give them benefit of the doubt on having more cycles based on that.
        As for cost per initial kwhr, they simply don’t compete. We are seeing a lot of this now. We don’t really know for sure why the Bolt charge rate is half that of Tesla, but if it is the batteries, it explains a lot. One way to increase capacity is to do it at the expense of series resistance and charge rate. If thats what LG did, they are still short compared to Tesla. I don’t know yet.

        • vensonata

          Yes, I take that 90% into account by multiplying by .9, they are likely just skimping on the “actual” battery, which may be 8kwh vs Tesla powerwall which has so called “100% DoD” but may in fact be a 9kwh battery. Notice the weight difference between the two batteries. 60kg for LG and 100 kg for Tesla powerwall.
          The price for both the Resu and Tesla in Australia is identically inflated by about 80%. The Australians just can’t keep their hands off the price scale when it comes to batteries. Very strange.

          • nakedChimp

            the importers/distributors can’t keep their hands off the price scale for anything that is to be sold to the other dwellers down here 😉

            On the upside – afaik – ordinary Kiwis have it even worse.

          • Peter Voight

            Nor in South Africa, where re-seller, Rubicon, offers the battery and inverter for 116,000 Rand + VAT ( excluding installation costs) That’s AUD 7509+GST = AUD 8,259 (exluding installation)
            Natural Solar said “Adding a Powerwall to an existing
            solar installation would cost about $9500. A Powerwall and inverter without installation about $1000 to $1200 less”
            Seems to be much the same.
            There is no option but to buy the Solaredge inverter, even if added to a working solar installation.
            http://www.energymatters.com.au/residential-solar/powerwall-retrofit-guide/

          • eveee

            0.9 wont tell you the ratio. Look at DoD vs cycle life. Its extremely non linear. There were some curves on CT a while back in the battery comparo? Anyway, a change from 100% to 90% DoD could improve the cycles quite a bit. From memory, going from 100% to 80% might almost double cycle life. So you might get 50% more cycle life just from that 10% difference. So the real difference in usable kwhrs might be more like 45% higher for the battery rated at 100% DoD over the one rated at the easier for cycle life 90% DoD.

          • eveee

            0.9 wont tell you the ratio. Look at DoD vs cycle life. Its extremely non linear. There were some curves on CT a while back in the battery comparo? Anyway, a change from 100% to 90% DoD could improve the cycles quite a bit. From memory, going from 100% to 80% might almost double cycle life. So you might get 50% more cycle life just from that 10% difference. So the real difference in usable kwhrs might be more like 45% higher for the battery rated at 100% DoD over the one rated at the easier for cycle life 90% DoD.

        • vensonata

          Yes, I take that 90% into account by multiplying by .9, they are likely just skimping on the “actual” battery, which may be 8kwh vs Tesla powerwall which has so called “100% DoD” but may in fact be a 9kwh battery. Notice the weight difference between the two batteries. 60kg for LG and 100 kg for Tesla powerwall.
          The price for both the Resu and Tesla in Australia is identically inflated by about 80%. The Australians just can’t keep their hands off the price scale when it comes to batteries. Very strange.

        • Peter Voight

          The capacity warranty is base upon total aggregate discharge, not DoD, nor specifically, cycles.
          According to a scale, if aggregate discharge is up to 2.1MWh/year, then capacity (warranted usable energy) is reduced by 1.26%/year.
          At 10 years retention is 88%
          At 20 years retention is 77%
          The ‘6000 cycles’ is based upon 300 cycles/year and annual aggregate of 1.92MWh (6.4kWh x 300). Then derated if the aggregate exceeds that number.
          The cell is Lithium-Ion Polymer stacked cell, but the chemistry is marked as ‘proprietary’. Probably LMO.

          • Axe

            Peter,

            LG Chem’s RESU 6.4 EX battery warranty states the following:

            “LGC warrants and represents that the Subject of the Warranty retains at least 80% of Nominal Energy 6.4kWh for 7 years after the date of invoice and at least 60% of Nominal Energy 6.4kWh for 10 years after under proper conditions of the use during the Term of Performance Warranty.”

            My understanding is that the above warranty is valid, provided that the battery owner stays at or below the annual throughput amount of 1.92 MWh (6.4 kWh x 300 cycles). If you operate btwn 0-300 full cycles per year, then LG will guarantee a minimum capacity of 80% after 7 yrs and 60% after 10 yrs.

            My understanding is that the use rate formula you cited only comes into effect if you exceed the 1.92 MWh equivalent throughput per year. Below 1.92 MWh per year, the use rate is a negative %, and thus there is no warranty decline beyond the 7yr/80% and 10yr/60%.

            For example:

            320 full cycles @ 6.4 kWh per year = 2.048 MWh

            Based on the use case formula they provide, there would be an additional 2% annual warranty capacity decline accelerated onto the assumed 7yr/80% and 10yr/60% warranty.

            My takeaway is that the warranty implies ~3000 full cycles until you reach 60% of original capacity after 10 yrs.

      • vensonata .

        I now have more accurate figures from the warranty manual.
        “6000 cycles at 90% dod
        “10,000 cycles at 80% dod.
        round trip efficiency 95%
        end of life capacity 60%. (This means average of 80% over lifetime.)

        Total kwh available with all losses accounted for at 90% depth of discharge are 26,265 kwh.
        Total kwh available with all losses accounted for at 80% depth of discharge 38,912kwh.
        Obviously better to not discharge beyond 80%!!
        And note that 60% still remains to be squeezed out at nominal “end of life” You will probably get another few thousand kwh.

        • Jamset

          So how does it compare to the Powerwall?

          Or we do not have the DoD figures for the Powerwall?

          • vensonata

            We do not have the same specific information on the powerwall as the LG Resu. That is unfortunate. Tesla should make more specific commitments to explicit estimates of cycle life. At the moment we can only compare them side by side by price in Australia. And it does appear that they are about the same price and that Resu is cheaper per kwh levelized cost.
            My optimistic estimate of the Tesla powerwall is lifetime 29,000 kwh and the Resu lifetime 38,000 kwh. Both are equally priced in Australia…and both are overpriced by 80%. At their present prices of approximately $5700 U.S. ($2700 more than they should cost) the price per kwh is:
            Tesla 19.6 cents U.S. kwh

            Resu 15 cents U.S. kwh

            If they were properly priced at $3000 then:
            Tesla 10 cents U.S. kwh
            Resu 8 cents U.S. kwh
            Remember that is purely the battery cost. It does not include installation which adds 15% to the total and it does not include the inverter. The Resu inverter requirement is 48 volt and any off grid inverter will work with it. The Tesla is 480 volts and only 3 specific inverters will work with it. All off grid inverters are at least twice the cost of on grid inverters. So add about $1000 extra to the cost of both batteries or increase the levelized cost by another 30%. The inverter and battery have about the same lifespans of 15 years.

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