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Li battery boosts energy storage in PV systems

Posted: 22 Feb 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:lithium battery  lead acid  PV system  solar energy 

According to a joint research by the University of Southampton and REAPsystems Ltd, LiFePO4 batteries have the potential to improve the efficiency of solar power systems and help to reduce the costs of both their installation and upkeep.

"Lead acid batteries are traditionally the energy storage device used for most PV systems. However, as an energy storage device, lithium batteries, especially the LiFePO4 batteries we used, have more favourable characteristics," stated Yue Wu, lead researcher, University of Southampton. The team also included Carlos Ponce de Leon, Tom Markvart and John Low, supervisors for the project.

Data was collected by connecting a lithium iron phosphate battery to a PV system attached to one of the university's buildings, using a specifically designed battery management system supplied by REAPsystems.

Yue noted that the lithium battery registered an energy efficiency of 95 per cent while the lead acid type only has about 80 per cent. "The weight of the lithium batteries is lower and they have a longer life span than the lead acid batteries reaching up to 1,600 charge/discharge cycles, meaning they would need to be replaced less frequently."

The battery will require further testing before being put into commercial PV systems, according to the research team.

"For all kinds of energy source (renewable or non-renewable), the energy storage device—such as a battery—plays an important role in determining the energy utilisation. Compared with traditional lead acid batteries, LiFePO4 batteries are more efficient, have a longer lifetime, are lighter and cost less per unit. We can see the potential of this battery being used widely in PV application and other renewable energy systems, concluded Dennis Doerffel, founder of REAPsystems and former researcher at the University of Southampton.

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