VRLA, lead carbon, and lithium iron phosphate battery maker Nerada has announced a number of developments in the last fortnight that effectively positions the Chinese company as a closed loop energy storage maker — manufacturing and deploying energy storage systems and also recycling the used cells.
On November 2, the company announced it had installed China’s first pre-fabricated 250kW/1MWh battery energy storage station. The system was deployed in less than a week and is already providing peak load shifting services. It will also be used as an emergency power supply to help the security of supply on the area’s grid, claim Nerada.
The 45 square meter power plant is connected to the 400V low voltage grid at China food company Four Seas’ factory in Suzhou, and consists of a prefabricated foundation module and a prefabricated 20 feet standard container.
Nerada created the storage station to reduce the deployment period, tighten quality control during construction while reducing the projects footprint, investment cost, and boost safety and reliability.
Then, on November 7, it announced that it had won a bid to supply back-up power products and be the main battery supplier for one of Alibaba’s cloud computing data centres, Athub HB33, and one of GDS’s cloud computing data centres.
Nerada said: “To accommodate the modular needs of future data computer sites, specific batteries’ development should be focusing on higher capacity, longer life, narrower size and better in modularization.”
An intriguing announcement was made via Narada Power’s China website. The company announced it is establishing a subsidiary, Anhui Narada Huabo New Material Technology, to recycle lithium ion batteries.
Narada has reportedly invested ¥100 million ($15.07 million) setting up the new company, which will carry out lithium recycling and supply materials as the firm looks to open up opportunities in the lithium battery chain.
Whether the project is commercially viable is a moot point. In the cover story of the Autumn edition of ESJ’s sister publication, Batteries International an industry insider was quoted as saying that for every dollar spent on lithium battery smelting, only a few cents of metal was recovered. Effectively making the process non-economical.
Further hurdles to the cells being recycled is the wide variety of chemistries used in lithium ion batteries. Another concern is the supply of used batteries. If the mass adoption of EVs begins in earnest in 2020, batteries won’t realistically appear on the recycling market until 2030, and even then they may be re-purposed for stationary storage applications, adding another 10 year plus.
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