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Chinese utility announces opening of large-scale battery storage facility: 'The battery tech will continue to improve'

Sodium-ion batteries are outside the norm in the storage industry, but they've gained attention due to lower costs and sustainability.

Sodium-ion batteries are outside the norm in the storage industry, but they’ve gained attention due to lower costs and sustainability.

Photo Credit: Guangxi Power Grid Company of Southern Power Grid

Large-scale battery storage systems are a no-brainer to handle the ever-growing influx of renewable energy without letting it go to waste. 

Since China has taken a global lead in using greener energy sources, it's no surprise that one of its latest major storage systems to go online is using a less toxic approach. 

As Electrek reported, the Fulin Sodium-ion Battery Energy Storage Station began operating in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in southern China this May. The initial storage capacity is said to be around 10 megawatt-hours (MWh), but it expected to grow to 100 MWh at full capacity. 

When it achieves that capacity goal, its output should be "enough to power 35,000 households and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50,000 tonnes [about 55,000 tons] annually," according to Electrek.

And as Gao Like, a manager at the Guanxi branch of China Southern Power Grid told Electrek, "The energy conversion efficiency of its sodium-ion battery energy storage system exceeds 92%. It's comparable to the efficiency of common lithium-ion battery storage systems, at 85% to 95%."

Sodium-ion batteries are outside the norm in the storage industry, but they've gained attention due to lower costs and sustainability. The main ingredient is said to be 500 times more abundant than lithium and can easily be harvested from seawater. It's also environmentally friendly and safer to transport than lithium.

Another interesting thing about sodium-ion batteries is that they can charge much faster than their lithium competitors. The utility shared with Electrek that the particular battery cells they use "charge to 90% in a mindblowing 12 minutes." 

The low price point has even made the tech alluring to budget EV makers with grand plans, such as China's BYD, which has partnered with Huaihai Holding Group to power more affordable micro vehicles. And while they typically have lower energy density and shorter lifespans, some researchers have been working to improve those shortcomings.  

As the world continues to ramp up its affordable energy investments, we need to find ways to store the energy generated for use during peak-use-periods, primarily after the sun has gone down. 

This will empower new green energy initiatives and help the planet at the same time, hopefully leaving dirty fuels by the wayside. Plus, it seems that the more green energy storage systems we install, the lower the prices get for the consumer. 

Some commenters noticed that the rapid charging spec was a bit unusual, with one asking, "What is the advantage of fast charging for a fixed installation battery?"

"Perhaps they are suggesting the possibility of other applications, but with no mention of energy density, we can only guess," another responded.

As battery storage developments reach new heights, many remain positive about future developments, with another commenter adding, "I'm confident the battery tech will continue to improve every year. Another reason it's wise to invest in these projects and clean energy in general."

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