Lead batteries no longer have a place in the energy storage system (ESS) market as lithium-ion becomes the number one choice of project developers, industry analysts Wood Mackenzie has said.
Outside of UPS applications, lead-acid has lost ground in the expanding ESS market place that topped 6GWh in 2018, say the analysts.
Xu Le, a senior analyst from Wood Mackenzie’s Singapore office, told BEST: “Lead-acid doesn’t really have a place in the ESS market in 2020, outside of UPS systems. It is not a competing technology anymore.
“Why do we believe lead-acid no longer has a place in the 2020 ESS market? We track project pipelines for every country, every year. Lead-acid takes a small share of global energy storage deployments.”
Although she could not share capacity numbers, she confirmed that LFP lithium-ion batteries dominate ESS deployments in China, with the country’s top battery makers supplying either LFP or MNC chemistry batteries for projects.
WoodMac’s assumption is backed by the International Energy Association (IEA), which reported that lithium-ion accounted for 88% of ESS deployment in 2016 while only 5% used lead batteries (1% more than sodium sulfur) in the same timeframe. Lead-acid had a 36% market share in 2011 (5% lower than lithium-ion) but a year later it would claim a 32% market share, 2% higher than lithium-ion.
Last year, WoodMac predicted the US and China would dominate the sector with more than 54% share of the market by 2024 between them, with global deployments reaching 63GW/158GWh.
Up to 2018, China deployed 600MW of utility-scale and behind-the-meter storage, with the US deploying 400MW of just over 3GW of combined global capacity, stated an IEA report.
Lead batteries still have a place
However, the Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI) has refuted WoodMac’s suggestion, with its analysis suggesting lead batteries will account for a combined 41GWh of deployed capacity this year— telecom (20GWh), UPS (20GWh), ESS residential (up to 600MWh) and ESS commercial and industrial (up to 500MWh).
By 2025, the CBI says the market potential for lead battery use in ESS projects will be strongest for behind-the-meter applications in residential, commercial and industrial applications. These market sectors have a potential of 4-8GWh.
The organisation’s director Dr Alistair Davidson, told BEST: “Advanced lead batteries are technically capable of meeting the requirements for renewable energy storage systems, and the cost per MWh is competitive.
“The key is Levelised Cost of Storage (LCOS), which is critically dependent on the service life of the battery. Many advanced lead batteries are capable of achieving 4,500-5,000 deep cycles which makes them cost-effective compared with other battery types. And of course, lead batteries are also fully and economically recyclable.
“Longer term, the market for all types of batteries for renewable energy storage systems is very large and LCOS is the key. The short-term market is driven by the need for stability in electricity networks with intermittent energy sources but in the long-term, as renewable generation starts to dominate, energy storage for longer times becomes essential, which will provide a huge market for all technologies. The lead battery industry will continue to play a key role in this sector.
“These are early days in the deployment of energy storage systems. The capability and delivery of many systems is untested longer-term. Regarding LCOS, the question to ask is, are all energy storage systems meeting this requirement? Another factor is that regulations are catching up. Many countries and states are beginning to incorporate recycling and sustainability in their expectations and this will impact all chemistries.
“Lead battery energy storage systems are excellent in the mid-range power area (1-5MW). These systems are typically used for energy storage systems for industrial and commercial applications for demand response services. This market is set for the most growth. It is strategic penetration and in this application space, lead batteries have the best techno-economics relative to acquisition cost and payback period.”