Energy storage’s current focus on the advantages of different technologies is potentially wrong, according to the head of one of Europe’s top battery companies. Anil Srivastava, chief executive of Leclanché, says that instead of debating the merits of individual storage technologies the industry needs to adopt a multiple-technology approach that consolidates the strengths of different options into hybrid systems.
This plea is expected to be the centrepiece of Srivastava’s keynote speech at the Energy Storage Europe conference in Düsseldorft next month.
“Different storage applications often require different capabilities,” says Srivastava. “While some areas of application need high output and quick reaction, others demand inexpensive storage technologies with a high capacity.
“Frequently these various features need to be combined seamlessly with each other. These days, many people are on the lookout for a kind of miracle system that fulfils all their requirements equally as well.”
Until such a concept exists, Srivastava argues, batteries, for example, will continue to be used in devices to which they are not ideally suited, which will lead to oversized storage systems or reduced service lifespans.
No miracle technology
“During my more than 20 years’ experience of working in the energy industry, I have never come across any miracle technology,” he continues.
“This is why I am convinced that we should no longer invest merely in making certain types of storage devices stand out from their competitors.
“Instead, we would achieve more by using smart software to integrate the strengths of different storage technologies seamlessly into hybrid systems. This applies to both stationary applications and e-mobility.”
The Leclanché boss cites electric buses as an example of where a hybrid energy storage design could offer advantages over a single technology.
During acceleration, buses require a fast storage system capable of producing a high output for a short period of time. However, during the journey they need an economical battery with a high capacity.
For this, Srivastava argues, the best solution would be to use hybrid systems in which various types of batteries seamlessly perform a variety of functions. A similar approach could be used in stationary applications to perform the different grid services required.
Addressing multiple applications
For grid-connected storage, combining technologies to address multiple applications, such as load shifting and frequency regulation, could help improve the business case for projects.
Srivastava sees hybrid energy storage systems as part of a wider package of measures needed to deal with renewable energy integration on the grid.
“Instead of trying to manage fluctuations in electricity demand and supply by continuously increasing power line capacity, we must tackle the problem at its source,” he says.
“On the supply side, this involves using storage systems as an intelligent network resource, a practice that is more economical than equipping each individual generator of renewable energy with their own storage option.
“On the demand side, major energy consumers must be given more financial incentives from the government to reduce peak loads.”
This would “lead to a grid and storage system architecture that is overall more beneficial to the economy than an uncoordinated set of yet more intertwined networks and a plethora of privately owned storage solutions,” Srivastava says.
Leclanché’s own Lithium-Titanate battery cells are credited with offering more than 15,000 charge and discharge cycles and are currently used in a range of settings, including consumer goods and home, industrial and mobile storage.
Written by Jason Deign
- Anil Srivastava will be a keynote speaker at this year’s Energy Storage Europe in Düsseldorf. Book now to make sure you don’t miss the event.