Super-hot salt could be coming to a battery near you
Over decades of development and scaling, lithium-ion batteries have gotten cheaper, and production capacity has exploded, with new battery Gigafactories popping up all around the world seemingly every other week.
But there are a few mismatches between lithium-ion’s strengths and what’s needed in batteries used for stationary energy storage.
- Price: Grid-scale storage needs to be dirt-cheap to help renewables be affordable. Last year, the US Department of Energy set a goal of reducing costs by 90% by 2030. Lithium-ion batteries have gotten cheaper over the years, but gains may be plateauing, especially with possible material shortages expected.
- Size: Lithium-ion batteries pack a lot of power into a small space. But while battery size is important for things like phones and cars, it’s not so crucial for grid-scale energy storage. Compromising on energy density for stationary applications could mean lower cost.
- Lifetime: Industrial plants often put in equipment that, when maintained, lasts for decades. Lithium-ion batteries typically need to be replaced every 5-10 years, which can be pricey.