New Battery Could Lead to Cheaper, Efficient Solar Energy

A joint research project between the University of Southampton and lithium battery technology company REAPsystems has found that a new type of battery has the potential to improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of solar power.

The research project, sponsored by REAPsystems, was led by MSc Sustainable Energy Technologies student, Yue Wu and his supervisors Dr. Carlos Ponce de Leon, Professor Tom Markvart and Dr. John Low (currently working at the University's Research Institute for Industry, RIfI). The study looked specifically into the use of lithium batteries as an energy storage device in photovoltaic systems.
 
"Lead acid batteries are traditionally the energy storage device used for most photovoltaic systems," says student Yue Wu. "However, as an energy storage device, lithium batteries, especially the LiFePO4 batteries we used, have more favourable characteristics."
 
Data was collected by connecting a lithium iron phosphate battery to a photovoltaic system attached to one of the University's buildings, using a specifically designed battery management system supplied by REAPsystems.
 
"The research showed that the lithium battery has an energy efficiency of 95 percent whereas the lead-acid batteries commonly used today only have around 80 percent," Yue says. "The weight of the lithium batteries is lower and they have a longer life span than the lead-acid batteries reaching up to 1,600 charge/discharge cycles, meaning they would need to be replaced less frequently."
 
Although the battery will require further testing before being put into commercial photovoltaic systems the research has shown that the LiFePO4 battery has the potential to improve the efficiency of solar power systems and help to reduce the costs of both their installation and upkeep. Dr. Carlos Ponce de Leon and Dr. John Low now plan to take this project further with a new cohort of Masters students.
 
"For all kinds of energy source (renewable or non-renewable), the energy storage device - such as a battery – plays an important role in determining the energy utilization," says Dr. Dennis Doerffel, founder of REAPsystems and former researcher at the University of Southampton. "Compared with traditional lead acid batteries, LiFePO4 batteries are more efficient, have a longer lifetime, are lighter and cost less per unit. We can see the potential of this battery being used widely in photovoltaic application, and other renewable energy systems."

Download Center

  • Waste Management in 2021: Accelerate Your Success with Technology

    Join waste management experts on February 23rd for a live best practice session webinar. You’ll learn how to take your waste program to the next level with visual location, barcoding, and mobility. Register now.

  • Green Quadrant EHS Software 2021

    Reserve your copy of the new report by independent analyst firm, Verdantix, to get a detailed, fact-based comparison of the 22 most prominent EHS software vendors in the industry.

  • Your Guide to Environmental Metrics that Drive Performance

    Translating sustainability into action starts with implementing the right metrics to assess your environmental risk and performance. Learn how to design metrics that improve your decision-making process and drive enterprise performance.

  • 5 Keys to Best-in-Class Chemical Management

    Running a safe chemical program is challenging and complex: from knowing what's on-site to proper handling and disposal - all while navigating regulatory changes. Learn the best ways to mitigate chemical risk, get the most value out of your data, and gain buy-in for a chemical management solution.

  • Unpacking ESG: 6 Questions You Were Too Afraid to Ask

    Environmental and Sustainability experts from Arcadis and Cority answer 6 of the most pressing questions EHS professionals have about getting started with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting.

  • Industry Safe