New research probes grid resilience using advanced lead batteries

by John Shepherd
Isolated multichannel battery and cell voltage measuring circuit for use in series strings. Photo: CBI
A university research partnership to further the transition of lead batteries into "the world of big data and smart energy storage” has been launched in the UK.

The Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI) is supporting the project – led by the University of Warwick and Loughborough University – to show how advanced lead batteries can support electricity grid energy storage and plug-ins for more renewable and other storage requirements in low-carbon energy systems.

By combining innovative research techniques, such as electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, researchers will study and predict the performance and lifetime of lead batteries in various utility duty cycles.

The model developed by researchers will be compared to data gathered from actual lead batteries in the field, to boost understanding of how the technology is used in utility grid applications and how these factors impact the lifetime of batteries.

'Safety and recyclability'  

Professor Richard McMahon, of the University of Warwick, said: "Lead batteries have key benefits of safety and recyclability but there is work to be done to understand how best to manage lead batteries in energy storage service to optimise efficiency and prolong life.”

"This knowledge will show owners and operators of storage facilities that lead-based systems provide a safe and cost-effective solution.”

Professor Dani Strickland, of Loughborough University, said: "This project is exciting because it will use expertise in the partner organisations to transition lead batteries to the world of big data and smart energy storage.”

"The availability of low-cost powerful microprocessors is fuelling an explosion in our capability to monitor, understand and impact battery degradation in real world situations at low cost,” Strickland said.

Grid storage

CBI technical manager Dr Matt Raiford said: "Working with leading institutions to deliver new insights and modelling techniques for lead battery energy storage is critical for the wider industry to continue their foray into the utility grid storage market.”

The CBI said the research will form a key part of its efforts to achieve the technical performance goals for lead batteries set out in its technical roadmap – by generating insights into how to maximise battery lifetimes in "real-world energy storage installations”.

According to the CBI, Europe’s energy storage transition has grown from 0.55 GWh in 2016 to 5.26 GWh by the end of last year – "with front-of-the-meter deployments such as utilities leading the way, representing more than 50% of installed capacity”.

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