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Will solid-electrolyte battery make northern p.v. cost effective?

 
pollinator
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I am not at all current with what the likely near-future of p.v. may be.  I haven’t educated myself much, and the reasons are that: a) our power bills (for Fortis’s western-Canadian hydro-electricity) aren’t unaffordable for us; and b) my local friends and acquaintances who have tried p.v. have found their p.v. investments aren’t repaying acceptably, given cold/cloudy winter, high mountain horizons & short winter sunlight hours, and system upkeep costs.  Discouraging factors.

But a while ago I read about this: The man widely credited for discovery and development of the lithium-ion battery, John Goodenough, has led a research team to develop a far better battery with far-reaching implications. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAg_8iCLIIw
Lithium-ion cells became important and very common in our everyday lives (cell phones, portable power tools, computers, etc). Goodenough feels the new battery will be far more efficient, quicker to charge, safer, and generally better.  In any case, on the physics-principal and theoretical practical side of this, the leader of the inventing team answers critics here: http://www.computerworld.com/article...kepticism.html .

This triggered my imagination and got me questioning whether the battery might have encouraging implications for off-grid and decentralized power production/storage, electric vehicles, etc.  Might sites in the north with limitations like what I described be able to store enough electricity so it could be sufficiently available through a four-month winter?

So I’ll ask you folks with the practical experience, is there much hope for storing enough electricity to depend on it for several months when ‘new’ p.v. electricity would be scant?
 
pollinator
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... So I’ll ask you folks with the practical experience, is there much hope for storing enough electricity to depend on it for several months when ‘new’ p.v. electricity would be scant?



I am in Maine, so I am not as Northern as you, but I am Northern as compared to much of the US.

I am able to depreciate all of my Solar Power expenses on my Income Tax filings over a 7-year period. That means that every penny is a write-off on my taxes. For me the break-even point can never exceed beyond 7-years.

 
Joel Bercardin
pollinator
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Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Galen Young wrote:

... So I’ll ask you folks with the practical experience, is there much hope for storing enough electricity to depend on it for several months when ‘new’ p.v. electricity would be scant?



I am in Maine, so I am not as Northern as you, but I am Northern as compared to much of the US.

I am able to depreciate all of my Solar Power expenses on my Income Tax filings over a 7-year period. That means that every penny is a write-off on my taxes. For me the break-even point can never exceed beyond 7-years.


Good arrangement in the state of Maine.  Glad it's working out for you, Galen.

Are you off-grid, or grid-tied?  Also, to what extent, if any, are high horizons and frequent cloud an issue in your location?  And to what degree is short sun hours in winter any sort of factor for you?
 
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I think fuel resource depletion is making it economical independent of future tech. In many places simply having lights, water and comms is instant "payback", especially way out from power lines. For us, it is instant payback for not powering our home with industrial power and supporting monopoly that is a detriment where we can provide it cleanly on site. That and we have never had a power outage on our pv system that wasnt for scheduled maintenance and switched onto an auxilliary system.

As far as system performance, some places need an alternative or augment to pv. And any installed system should have had production estimates based on a proper site evaluation before being commisioned... one penny, if money is your game, or accept performance on budget and improve efficiency and capacity down the road.

Usually the battery is the orphan from the project budget and i think is the source of much dis satisfaction with performance, then wire and proper enclosures and slave labor. Profit... you are trying to profit, the installer trying to profit... orphans result.

The 100kwh battery for $1000 and under 1000 lbs! Would be great and span a month for our power requirement with the pv breaker off. But then the wire and mounting is "too expensive to accept"... many people are never happy spending money.

I like Dark Green Mountain's C5 on this, sometimes you must lower your expectations in order to be comfortable.

 
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I am off grid and have been for years.  My panels produce power unless they are snow covered and I am not home to remove it. Admittedly on cloudy days the output drops by 50% or more but sence I have more panel output than my batteries would normally require the batteries still get charged if don't use the power faster than the panels make it. I think given the low cost of panels now (unless Trump screws it up with import restrictions) it would be more cost effective to ad more panels than batteries to store months of power.  On sunny days the extra power can be diverted for heat for water or air.
 
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I have been 100% off grid since 1983.  Current Battery's are and have always been the weakest link in off grid living.  I use solar and hydro so my battery storage needs are substantially smaller than a PV system alone.  I have been using the L-16 size battery's since the mid 80's.  I would love a better battery !  Although I haven't bought them yet, my interest has been on the silicon/sodium battery's coming out of china.... never freeze...not affected by cold... hold their charge a long time...  not well tested out yet but very promising ! http://www.backwoodssolar.com/products/batteries-accessories?cat=159  But ! This new battery technology is very exciting ! Much better than the grid tied Tesla battery ...Almost so good sounding that you would expect a sudden disappearance of the inventors !  The link to youtube worked well but the other link would not go thru. I hope to hear more in the mainstream about this !!!    
 
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Thomas, I think Outback is currently pimpin these batteries right? If outback is running them, well it must say something as they are a huge player in offgrid.
 
Joel Bercardin
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Hi.  General info and experience with northern p.v. is interesting. But basically I'm just wondering, again, about John Goodenough and his team — their battery concept, specifically. Or variants of it. Anybody got any news?
 
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Seems like Sodium-Ion may be the way to go, tho those seem to be not available in USA. Still in development stage. Shall we all start pushing for such? Letting potential manufacturers know there is a hearty market for them?
 
gardener
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Joel,

Feel free to correct me if I am out of place here, but for the purposes of grid storage/stationary applications, I don’t think that any new battery is going to make solar any more affordable or attractive.  Let me explain.

As you put, the price of grid electricity for you is not terribly expensive, but solar costs are not trivial.  Battery storage makes solar even more expensive.  I would think that what would be most attractive for a storage standpoint is the lowest cost possible.  Right now that is probably lead acid or No-Cad batteries.  The reason I say is that those batteries are mature technologies, well proven and comparatively cheap.  For applications like powering a home, a lithium ion provides no real advantage.  True, it stores a lot of electricity in a small package, but it is expensive.  Worse, lithium ions have a limited number of charge/recharge cycles.  I think that the most important factor in a stationary application would be an extremely large number of charge/recharge cycles and of course low cost.  At present, old technology batteries fulfill both of those applications just fine.

Now if you are talking about mobile applications, then lightweight, high energy density batteries are exactly what you want.  Lithium ions are great for vehicles because they store a lot of energy and induce a minimal weight penalty.

But I think the application you are talking about is powering your home during darkness.  And in that particular application an old lead acid battery will work just as well as a new lithium ion battery or newer technology battery.

So in the end I don’t think that the new battery is going to help you.  Perhaps I have missed something or maybe I have misunderstood your question.  I hope this doesn’t discourage you too much and by all means feel free to correct any mistake I may have made.

Eric
 
Joel Bercardin
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Hi. Thank you both for your recent replies.

Eric, I respect your depth of practical knowledge.  And I take your well thought out reply not only under advisement but quite seriously as it relates to my own homestead situation.  But I'm also a guy who is interested in North America and Planet Earth, and I know that in "the developed world" we homesteaders and general rural residents are now, for the most part, a minority population.  Maybe, with the emergence of the Permaculture trend and a renewed back-to-the-land trend, we will be a growing segment.  But another factor behind my starting this thread, and bumping it recently, is what the implication of possible more efficient and long-duration electrical energy storage methods might be for the less near-term, but more public, renewable-energy installations — for instance, at the neighborhood or small-town level.  That's something I don't have the background to consider very well.
 
Eric Hanson
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Joel,

I hope you don’t misunderstand, I really like the idea of off grid electricity and if that is your goal I say go for it.  My response was intended to be limited to the specific battery type.  Since a battery is nothing more than a way to store energy, I would think that present batteries serve that function just fine.  And also the older batteries are cheaper meaning you can store more energy because you could afford more batteries.  

I did a little peeking around at sodium ion batteries and they look like they have promise.  I just don’t know how those specific batteries would help your particular situation.

Again, maybe I misunderstood and if I offended I truly apologize.  Best of luck with your endeavors.

Eric
 
pollinator
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Eric, my issue is charge/discharge cycles with lead acid. The lead can be reused, but it’s beyond my skills to do so. Properly configured LiPo can do enough charge/discharge cycles it should be a one-time purchase. These new Lithium battery (link did not work but I found the article on the same site) have incredible charge density and the charge/discharge of lithium but they claim without the dendrite problem and the cold temperature issue, which makes it a more robust less dangerous battery. I could see making a charge station and having blocks of lithium cells that I could use in equipment but rotate back into the house bank.

I’m already doing that with a bunch of Lead acid but they are heavy for the same output, and Nicad is not a whole lot lighter.
 
Joel Bercardin
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Eric Hanson wrote:
Again, maybe I misunderstood and if I offended I truly apologize.  Best of luck with your endeavors.


No, no offense taken at all. I was happy you answered, Eric.
 
pollinator
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Even assuming that the theoretical underpinnings survive being scrutinized by other researchers then their limited lab experiments will have to be replicated. Then the fun comes; can it be commercially replicated? I remember the first glimmers of lithium technology showing up in the 1980's but it was developed in the lab in the 1970's. It took 30-40 years for it to make the impact it has. All this to say the solid state lithium battery if commercially feasible could be 30-40 years away. I personally think the liquid metal battery will be a large scale storage option eventually. https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/ambri-is-still-alive-and-chasing-its-liquid-metal-battery-dreams
The materials are cheap, easily obtained,  evenly distributed throughout the world, and they are starting from the word go with the idea of big... Really big...  That kind of tech is really for distributed generation or wide scale renewables for grid connected clients. For off grid storage it is really hard to beat lead. Not old school lead but all the flavours coming to market now like lead calcium, lead carbon etc... Its just really forgiving and cheap to make.
Cheers,  David
 
Eric Hanson
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TJ,

Yep, I agree that the charge/discharge cycle life is critically important in these applications.  LiPo and lithium iron phosphate batteries also shine as do AGM type batteries.  The AGM batteries don’t quite have the cycle life, but as they are deep cycle batteries, hopefully they will need fewer charges.

It is tempting for some to get excited about lithium ion batteries for their extreme light weight and high energy density and both these qualities matter in vehicle applications.  A thoroughly non-Permies example of this is Japan’s new Soryu class submarine.  It is a diesel-electric type but stores it’s energy for underwater operations in lithium ion batteries.  The exact figures are classified but apparently it is getting high underwater speeds and dive times that can last Something like 10 days as opposed to 3 days max for older batteries.

But in a stationary setting, battery weight does not matter much, but cost does.  I the price of deep cell batteries with long cycle lived comes down these potential batteries could be very attractive.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
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TJ,
Also, you are dead on correct about the dendrites.  I remember reading somewhere that a true metallic lithium battery would have something like 3-4 times the energy density of a lithium ion battery.  If the dendrite issue could be brought under control, lithium metal batteries could be incredibly powerful.

There is some work being done on magnesium based batteries that would have 2 electrons to give up to lithium’s 1.  There is even some interesting work done on an aluminum battery.  A Chinese university came up with an aluminum battery that was very similar to a lithium ion battery but with one important difference—the battery could reportedly be fully charged in a few seconds assuming sufficient current and voltage was available.  I can not possibly verify that claim and it may be spurious.  I would be curious as to how hot a battery like that would get if it got a full charge in just a few seconds!!

Eric  
 
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I went with Lifepo4 batteries. They are not cheap but
I wanted to store them in my living space as they do
not off gas. They charge fast and have 90 percent
Usable capacity without harm to the batteries. Zero
Maintenance no checking electrolytes or water.
3000-5000 cycles depending on how aggressive
you recharge them.

With efficient lighting, and electronics and appliances
Modern PV systems work fine, until you throw in climate
control. Even then modern split mini and heatpumps using DC compressors can now run directly from a 900w PV system.

Phys .org had one of the most promising thermal storage
systems I have read about. A liquid that could store solar
energy directly from sunlight. Run through a catalyst to release the heat for cooking and heating. Then you rexpose the liquid to sunlight to recharge it. It had a extremely good lifecycle with little to no breakdown in testing.


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