ZINC-AIR BATTERIES: THE Solution For Utility-Scale Energy Storage?

Guest Post by Mathias Maehlum

 


Courtesy: eosenergystorage.com

We expect to see a steady increase of both solar and wind energy in the coming years, part of the solution to cut our dependence on non-renewable and polluting energy sources. However, we face several challenges when it comes implementing solar panels and wind turbines on utility scales.

Both solar and wind are highly unpredictable sources of energy. Imagine days without wind and sun. How would you provide a stable stream of energy to satisfy the demand? The simply answer is to store the energy from good days where the amount of electricity generated actually exceeds the consumption. In reality, this is incredible hard.

Energy efficiency and costs are crucial when it comes energy storage. We want to be able to get as much useful energy out compared to the energy we put in, without having to repair or replace the storage system too often. In addition to this, frequency and speed of charge and discharge, as well as lifetime, are factors that all should be considered.

There are several promising methods to solving the problem of utility-scale energy storage. Previously, storing energy chemically in batteries was not as applicable on the larger scale as it is with small electrical appliances. Grid scale batteries would cost a fortune.

The concept of a battery made of zinc-air has been around for decades.
In the last few years, technological advancements have put zinc-air batteries on the map. What are the advantages of using this technology enabling us to use zinc-air batteries energy efficient with low costs on utility-scale?

High Energy Density

Since the energy released and stored with a chemical reaction where zinc is oxidized with oxygen from the air compared to conventional batteries, containing two reactants, the energy density is vastly improved. In theory, a zinc-air battery can store several times the amount of energy other batteries can.

Low Costs

Zinc, as well as the other materials used to build these types of batteries, is all relatively low-cost compared to competing battery technologies.

Huge Market

In addition to utility-scale, the zinc-air battery holds a lot of promises in the electrical vehicle market. We know that electrical vehicles will be more prominent in the coming years, pushing the development for the technology, eventually leading to more efficient and cost-competitive zinc-air batteries.

Eos Energy Storage has promised their first grid-scale batteries on the market within 2013, at one third of the costs of lithium-ion batteries.

Courtesy Eos Energy Storage

Eos Aurora – a zinc-air battery system developed for the utility-scale.

“Eos’ proprietary rechargeable zinc-air battery will initially be sold for $1000/kW and $160/kWh, and is electrically rechargeable with a life of over 10,000 cycles (30 years) with a full duty cycle and at full depth of discharge.”

Eos Energy Storage

It will be interesting to see if zinc-air batteries hold up to their promise and helps us solve the storage problems we face when it comes to implementing large-scale renewable energy.

You can read more about energy efficiency and renewable energy at EnergyInformative.org.

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