Cheaper and lighter battery design a win-win for storage

UK-based Cenex have recently developed an electric vehicle (EV) battery that is 41% lighter than standard EV batteries.

In addition to the reduced weight, the ‘EV-Lite’ battery decreases the cost of non­­‑cell components by 63% through reducing the number of parts used to form the battery – there are no wires or screws and it is designed for automated assembly. As a direct comparison to a ‘benchmark’ EV design, a 4 kilowatt-hour EV-Lite battery has 196 components compared to 807 components for a ‘standard’ EV battery with the same capacity. Reducing EV battery weight whilst maintaining the energy storage capacity effectively extends its range, with the EV‑Lite design providing the potential to shed hundreds of kilograms off larger battery banks.

Improvements in EV battery designs have steadily increased in recent times due to stronger public support for EV development. Echoing the achievements of the Cenex EV-Lite, the School of Engineering at the University of Tokyo have also announced a breakthrough within the last month for their cobalt­‑lithium oxide battery design which is stated to hold an energy density seven times higher than any other battery available today. From one side of the world (UK) to the other (Japan), battery development is gaining momentum.

Despite having uniquely different design constraints, advancements in EV battery technology are in many cases transferrable to batteries installed in-house for solar energy storage. The marriage between EVs and solar energy storage is growing ever closer as evidenced by Tesla’s foray into battery development for their EV line and partnership with Solar City. By producing batteries on a massive scale, analysts predict that Tesla-SolarCity batteries will be reduced to wholesale prices of US$150–250 per kilowatt‑hour by 2020.

The economics of solar energy battery storage are not yet favourable for grid‑connected systems in Australia; however, the technology is not that far away from more widespread use. SunPower, in particular, is planning to trial battery storage in Australia next year. So it’s no longer a question of ‘if’ they will make it to our shores ­- it’s now a matter of ‘when’ this battery revolution will come and how we, as electricity consumers, can capitalise on it when it’s here.

Top Image Credit: Cenex

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

John Rodriguez

John regularly contributes original technology articles to Solar Choice News. He is a PhD candidate in solar PV engineering at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), having graduated with First Class Honours in a Bachelor of Engineering (UNSW, specialising in PV). His knowledge of and passion for renewables technology led to him receiving the federally-funded Australian Postgraduate Award and Engineering Research Award for research excellence, in addition to being a Co-operative Program scholar during his undergraduate studies. John also works as an energy efficiency and process engineer and analyst.
John Rodriguez