Solar power plants need to store the energy they produce, and this is one of the challenges the alternative energy sector faces nowadays. A new type of LiFePO4 battery developed by UK researchers fits perfectly for this task.
The novelty has been the replacement of lead acid batteries regularly used in such cases with the LiFePO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) batteries. More precisely, researchers have attached the battery to a photovoltaic system from a building and sat back to see what happens.
They observed an increase in the energy storing efficiency up to 95% compared to the 80% obtainable today from lead-acid batteries. Not to count the fact that lithium doesn’t weigh as much and its electrodes are definitely more durable (up to 1,600 charge/discharge cycles before recycling it).
The finding is part of a joint research project between the University of Southampton and a company named REAP Systems, and has been conducted by MSc Sustainable Energy Technologies student, Yue Wu and his supervisors Dr. Carlos Ponce de Leon, Professor Tom Markvart and Dr. John Low. As in any project, the battery needs further testing, but what they found so far looks pretty promising.
The consequences are long-term, especially since the battery is like the heart of a photovoltaic system: a good battery means more electricity stored for longer and less cost to purchase and maintain the system.