Lithium-ion batteries looking to store the green revolution, not just drive it

Published: Wednesday, 24 December 2014

California is following Hawaii’s lead in using lithium-ion phosphate batteries to storage its energy. The Golden State is aiming to install 1.3GW of storage by 2040 and CODA Energy is taking the first steps with this.

US-based CODA Energy’s behind-the-meter lithium-ion phosphate energy storage system in the Los Angeles basin is now interconnected and operational. The 1,054kWh/510kW system is comprised of electric vehicle (EV) battery cell packs.

"CODA Energy set high goals for this year. We now have proven solutions that cover the full spectrum of our commercial and industrial customers’ needs for peak power and energy," said Peter Nortman, CODA Energy’s COO and CTO.

The project was developed under a contract with South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) and co-funded by California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). The project hopes to demonstrate the scalability of CODA Energy’s peak shaving product architecture by managing demand charges for its facility headquarters in Monrovia, California.

LA, Emmanuel_D.Photography 
Light up the sky: CODA Energy will be powering the Los Angeles basin with an energy storage system powered by Li-ion-phosphate batteries
Source: Emmanuel_D.Photography, via Flickr

 "Our behind-the-meter active and interconnected storage systems range from a 40kWh UL listed energy storage appliance to this 1,054 kWh scaled and tailored aggregation solution," he added.

The system is comprised of two networked and aggregated multi-tower systems that can operate in concert or deliver independent services. CODA hopes its scalable hardware and proprietary networking software gives its system configuration ample flexibility and the potential to operate across a local or regional level.

New storage market

At this year’s Battery Show in Michigan, speakers underlined the importance of diversifying the use of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, like those being used by CODA. Enersys’ president, Dave Shaffer, insisted that battery producers must be geographically and technically adaptable to preserve the future sustainability of the market.

John Gagge, vice president for reserve power sales and service at EnerSys Americas, highlighted the growing energy demands of major cities and emphasised that there was a major opportunity for energy storage providers.

Archan Padmanabhan, stationary energy storage specialist for EV maker Tesla Motors Inc., spoke of the company’s drive to develop stationary energy solutions that will allow Tesla to meet its target of enabling widespread, sustainable transportation.

"It’s not just important to have EVs on the road, but to have them charged by cleaner sources of energy," said Parbmanabhan.

French battery maker Saft is currently developing a Li-ion energy storage system for the Hawaiian island of Kauai to regulate its electricity supply from renewable sources. The rest of Hawaii is seeking to transform its energy distribution system by 2017.

At the Battery Show, Kamen Nechev, chief technology officer at Saft, said that while performance advantages and storage ability remain key determinants of battery demand it will ultimately be costs that define whether the technology is viable.

The high cost of R&D and the varying demands of the technically multifaceted industrial sector are major obstacles that need to be overcome for projects to be workable. As a result, new sources of raw material are likely to be needed to prevent price inflation as demand from the battery sector grows.