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Europe approves €3.2bn to support battery R&D

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Consulting Engineer Future Power, Inc.

Noam Mayraz, PE, is a senior consultant for the power generation industry.  Mr. Mayraz has over forty years of design, engineering, and field services as project manager, IPP projects director,...

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Europe approves €3.2bn to support battery R&D, December 9, 2019, Brian Publicover.

The European Commission has approved use of funds given by seven member states to back Europe-wide R&D projects across the lithium-ion battery value chain, with the aim of potentially unlocking an additional €5 billion in private sector investment.

Seven EU member states – Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Finland and Sweden – have agreed to provide up to €3.2 billion to support research into lithium-ion batteries across the continent. The main areas of focus will include the extraction and processing of raw materials, creation of advanced chemical materials, cell and module design, system integration and battery recycling.

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Research projects are intended to support the development of innovative and sustainable liquid-electrolyte and solid-state batteries, with an emphasis on safety and environmental concerns. The participants will aim to facilitate the development of longer-lasting batteries that charge more quickly than current products.

Observations:

Large-scale stationary battery energy storage has been under development for several decades. Several large battery demonstration projects have been built and tested under a variety of electric utility grid applications, and in conjunction with renewable energy sources such as wind and photovoltaics that require energy storage systems. Applications fall into two broad categories: Energy applications and power applications. Energy applications involve storage system discharge over periods of hours (typically one discharge cycle per day) with correspondingly long charging periods. Power applications involve comparatively short periods of discharge (seconds to minutes), short recharging periods, and often require many cycles per day. While many battery technologies have been proposed and developed, only a handful have actually been commercially employed. These include lead- acid, nickel/cadmium, sodium/sulfur, and vanadium-redox flow batteries. Other battery technologies, such as lithium-ion batteries, are less mature and not yet well-developed for these applications.

About two-thirds of utility-scale battery storage power capacity installed in 2016 in the United States is located in two electricity markets: the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), which covers much of California, and the PJM Interconnection, which covers all or parts of 13 eastern states and the District of Columbia. Utility-scale battery systems have been installed in these markets for different reasons. Utility-scale battery storage systems in California tend to serve energy-oriented applications, with smaller power capacities but longer discharge durations. Conversely, systems in PJM tend to serve power-oriented applications, with larger power capacities but shorter discharge durations.

Unlike most electricity generators, which can be characterized by their power capacity, batteries are characterized by two metrics: power capacity and energy capacity.  Power capacity, measure in megawatts (MW), is the maximum instantaneous amount of power that can be produced on a continuous basis. Energy capacity, measured in megawatt-hours (MWh), is the total amount of energy that can be stored or discharged by the battery.

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