We get calls asking about trends in our industry. Based on our insider" knowledge and sources, we would like to share some of the trends we see as having an impact plus some of the, at present, pie in the sky" notions you may have heard of or are wondering about.
Energy Storage (batteries):
All batteries are a form of storing energy and the primary focus of late has been on enhancing energy density". FLA (Flooded lead acid), AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) and Gel cell batteries are the most commonly used batteries for storing energy generated by alternative energies and represent the best investment today. A major focus of the renewable energy industry now is energy storage; here are a few of the leading contenders for alternative energy storage devices.
LiOn (Lithium Ion) batteries are becoming more main stream with the advent of Electric Vehicles. Though progress has been made in creating a safer (less prone to melt down) battery, there remains room for improvement. These have proven very reliable and are an effective means of storing energy for use in our phone and tablet devices, but their charging perimeters for power systems are very specific and there are still bugs to be worked out for integration into RE power systems.
Li-air (Lithium Air) much of the current research is focused on four different chemical designs. The aprotic design is see the most focus at present. The other three design technologies; aqueous, mixed aqueous/aprotic and solid state all face distinct advantages and significant technical challenges.
There has been a lot of money invested in coming up with an innovative energy storage device and we suspect there will be more in the near future. Our Crystal Ball" gazing reveals that the next evolution will come from tinkerers working from a garage somewhere. They typically will have as a goal some personal desire to improve an aspect of their own lives and a new application of existing technology will likely create the next major boost in development.
KAir (Potassium Air) in Oct 2014 Ohio State University announced the introduction of a potassium air battery that achieves 98% energy efficiency. We'll have to wait and see if this product comes to market.
NiFe (Nickel-iron) nickel-iron batteries are also known as Edison Battery" and have an extended life extending well beyond the rated 20 year life. The slow charge rate coupled with slow discharge rate make them an undesirable solution for all but a limited number of applications for renewable energies.