Hi-tech batteries support boost in demand for household solar energy

Source: press release, 25 February 2021

Working toward quick and safe “plug and play” solar powered energy storage systems for homes
Working toward quick and safe “plug and play” solar powered energy storage systems for homes (photo: CBI)

Engineers at Gridtential Energy, Inc. and Electric Applications Incorporated (EAI), supported by the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI), are working to further develop quick and safe “plug and play” solar powered energy storage systems to meet the boom in demand for renewable, and secure, energy in US homes.

Gridtential Energy is the pioneer of Silicon Joule™, an innovative bipolar battery technology, which uses silicon wafers (similar to those in solar cells) in traditional lead batteries to reduce weight and achieve performance competitive with lithium-ion at a lower cost. The new research project will combine Silicon Joule technology with the testing expertise of EAI to develop high voltage reference batteries specifically for so-called behind-the-meter energy storage applications.

The advanced batteries developed by Gridtential and EAI could accelerate the move to greener power in homes across the nation as the new US president drives forward climate change policies and the low carbon transformation of the economy.

Behind-the-meter (BTM) energy storage is a critical piece for the decarbonisation landscape with systems booming in demand. In the US alone, Wood Mackenzie predicted 430 MW installed in 2020, reflecting an increase of more than 100% over 2019.

This is driving the need for affordable, safe, high-performing batteries in easy-to- connect packages that incorporate renewable energy for the residential market.

John Barton, CEO of Gridtential, says, “Integrated PV-battery backup system is a fantastic application for Silicon Joule technology due to its superior cycle life, low cost, safety, and recyclability; all of which are of utmost importance to residential consumers and small business owners and set this technology apart from other batteries.”

The research collaboration will involve constructing mini-systems using Silicon Joule bipolar batteries for testing, with EAI developing an optimised charge scheme to replicate real-life energy storage systems.

Building on CBI’s technical roadmap goals to maximise cycle life and energy throughput – two key technical parameters for renewable energy storage – this project is critical for delivering insights to enhance lead battery performance.

Dr. Matt Raiford, Technical Manager of CBI, says, “This exciting partnership will delve into the performance of bipolar lead battery packs using sizing commonly seen in residential energy storage systems.”

“Demand reduction and renewable energy storage applications are a booming market for advanced lead batteries and the most popular in the residential sector,” he adds. “This project will contribute to a new battery technology being available to meet growing demand in the United States and further afield.”

As part of CBI’s 2021 research program dedicated to enhancing lead battery performance under the banner of energy storage, the project with Gridtential and EAI is pushing the boundaries to deliver next-generation batteries.