A new type of battery – the LiFePO4 – could improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of solar power, scientists say.
The team from the University of Southampton looked specifically into the use of lithium batteries as an energy storage device in photovoltaic systems.
They found the LiFePO4 had the potential to improve the efficiency of solar power systems and help to reduce the costs of both their installation and upkeep – although the battery will require further testing before being put into commercial use.
The research project was led by MSc Sustainable Energy Technologies student, Yue Wu, who explained: “Lead acid batteries are traditionally the energy storage device used for most photovoltaic systems. However, as an energy storage device, lithium batteries, especially the LiFePO4 batteries we used, have more favourable characteristics.
“The research showed that the lithium battery has an energy efficiency of 95 per cent whereas the lead-acid batteries commonly used today only have around 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.”