Article: Home Business Magazine: “Lithium: Cure to the Debate Over Clean Energy”

Home Business Magazine: "Lithium: Cure to the Debate Over Clean Energy"

Green Cubes Technology’s Adam Brown (Director of Sales for the Motive Division) has an article in Home Business Magazine that discusses the benefits and trends of lithium power.

Read the article below, or at the Home Business Magazine site here.


Lithium: Cure to the Debate Over Clean Energy

By Adam Brown

September 15, 2018

Since 1859 when Gaston Plante developed the first practical rechargeable Lead-Acid battery, Lead-Acid batteries have been the mainstay of portable power. Improvements in the manufacturing and raw material sourcing have made the Lead Acid battery a tried and true source of power. However, the biggest obstacle to Lead-Acid’s continued dominance is the same that put it on the map as a cheap and reliable source of power: chemistry.

The evolution of the battery didn’t gain much attention until Sony released the first commercial lithium-ion battery in 1991. However, in the past 27-plus years, major advancements in the lithium-ion battery technology have been a major game-changer in the battery arena. Today, lithium-ion batteries (LiB) are the batteries that companies across the world are turning to and more advances are being made daily in cutting edge technology.

Cheaper, more-effective LiB’s are packing quite a punch in the battery market and among investors. The dominance will continue. Already many industries have embraced lithium-ion batteries – from the medical industry with medical carts powered by lithium-ion that last 10 years (compared to lead acid batteries that need to be replaced every 6-12 months); the industrial markets (motive power) which now sees its forklifts powered by lithium-ion batteries; to the automotive industry – think plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. More advances are being made daily, which is why businesses of any size are turning to LiB.

It was reported by Business Insider in 2010 the automotive sector was “a drop in the bucket for lithium-ion battery sales.” However, the report went on to state that only five years later in 2015, the automotive industry made up more than $5 billion of sales in a sector worth nearly $16 billion. And for good reason. Manufacturers of the batteries report that lithium provides a clean, safe and efficient alternative to lead-acid. Lithium-ion batteries are environmentally good.

In the Motive Power sector, LiB’s charge more efficiently and can power industrial trucks over multiple shifts without recharging or with minimal charging (about 15-20% more efficient charging thereby using less energy). LiB’s are lighter than other rechargeable batteries in consideration of battery capacity, making it more practical in portable electronics. Manufacturers also tout the fact that the lithium-ion battery is quicker to charge than other chargeable batteries – taking only a fraction of time to charge when compared to counterparts.

LiB’s have a longer lifespan. Reports indicate these batteries can typically handle several thousands of charge-discharge cycles. Some lithium-ion batteries lose 30% of their capacity after 1000 cycles, while more advanced lithium ion batteries still have better capacity only after 5000 cycles.

One issue with rechargeable batteries is that they will lose their charge over time. This self-discharge can be a major issue, especially in today’s world. One advantage of lithium-ion cells is that thei rate of self-discharge is much lower than that of other rechargeable cells such as Ni-Cad and NiMH forms. Another advantage: There are several types of lithium ion cells available which can mean that the right technology can be used for the particular application needed. Some forms of lithium ion battery provide a high current density and are ideal for consumer mobile electronic equipment. Others can provide much higher current levels and are ideal for power tools and electric vehicles.

It is true the first lithium-ions were not cost-effective – priced in the range of $3,000 per kWh of energy in the mid-1990s to the consumer. However, that has changed dramatically, and LiB’s have become the battery of choice for consumer electronics throughout the 2000s.

One of the biggest advantages is that there is no required maintenance for LiB’s – unlike lead acid which requires more frequent watering and equalizing as the battery ages. There are no hazardous materials in the chemistry and the Lithium Ion (LFP) extraction and manufacturing process is safe and environmentally friendly using raw materials that do not require ‘hard-rock’ mining.

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, global battery-making capacity is set to double by 2021 to more than 278 gigawatt-hours per year. Lithium-ion batteries are also expected to be 43% cheaper by that same year. With this report, and others like it, it appears that the low prices for lithium-based batteries will remain a factor in driving the technology’s dominance into the future.

With lower costs and more efficiency, lithium-ions are getting more attention and use than ever before. They have become more widely used in consumer electronics and have shown promise in automotive applications, such as plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

Lithium-Ion batteries can work in applications that require a lot of energy for a short period of time, but also those requiring lower amounts of energy for longer periods making them suitable for stationary energy storage across the grid.

Reports show that in 2014, lithium-ions made up 33.4% of the rechargeable battery market worldwide, worth $49 billion. By 2025, it is estimated by Bernstein that the rechargeable battery market will more than double in size to $112 billion, while lithium-ion’s market share will more than double to 70%.

According to a 2016 report, Lithium-ion technologies accounted for more than 95% of new energy-storage deployments in 2015. These trends are escalating.

Lithium-Ion batteries are now the choice off a slew of industries and businesses worldwide because of their efficiency, green potential, and cost savings. This trend will continue to accelerate, so the question to ask is: if your business isn’t using lithium-ion, isn’t now the time to make the switch?

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