Batteries – Kurt Shafer is Your Solar Power Expert


The highest performance microgrid batteries are, in 2018,  ThunderSky batteries from Winston Chung and the Tesla PowerWall.

Thunder Sky

The Thunder Sky batteries from Winston Chung Energy Group offer unique performances that might be the best for your application. There are many variations in size and capacity.  They combine lithium, yttrium, iron and phosphate in a variety of sizes. 

Winston selection

Here is a press release about Winston Chung

“The first floor of Winston Chung Hall at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering is now being powered by a 1.1-megawatt hour bank of rare earth lithium-ion batteries, which is one of the largest storage battery installations at a university in the world.”

Tesla PowerWall

The Tesla PowerWall offers similar performance. The PowerWall is rated at 14 KWH total energy with a “Real Power” rating of 5KW. The battery is 50 volts and the output is 120 VAC at a maximum of 30 amps. 

The Powerwall and Powerpack are rechargeable lithium-ion battery stationary energy storage products manufactured by Tesla, Inc.

The picture below can be better viewed on its own page. Right click it and select “Open image in new tab”

Tesla powerwall 2018


Lithium and in particular LiFePO4 is a better long term investment than Lead Acid batteries.

–LiFePO4 has 2000 to 8000 cycles (70% to 100% Depth Of Discharge) vs Lead Acid 250 to 1200 cycles (20% to 50% DOD).
(This means you can buy the  LiFePO4 battery with just half the Lead Acid capacity since LiFePO4 can be discharged deeper and does not have to be as fully charged as Lead Acid).
–LiFePO4 has a charge / discharge efficiency of 95 to 98% vs Lead Acid just 50 to 75%.
–LiFePO4 will cost about the same as Lead Acid with 2x capacity.
(A half capacity LiFePO4 will perform the same or better do to ability to discharge deeper and stay discharged with no effect on life cycle and do to better charge / discharge efficiency)
–LiFePO4 protected with the new Solar Battery Management Systems can last 20 to 30 years where a typical Lead Acid will only last 4 to 6 years.
–LiFePO4 can be 5 to 10x better value than Lead Acid over the life of the battery

–The cost benefit is not the only benefit.

– LiFePO4 can be installed indoors with no need for external venting since it does not produce the  flammable hydrogen gas as Lead Acid does.
– LiFePO4 even at the same capacity as Lead Acid is much smaller and lighter (in some applications this can be important).
– LiFePO4 is maintenance free 

Some links in support to these claims:

For additional data on batteries you can check the Winston specifications for their Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries here. 

Below is an article from in 2017

Non-toxic organic molecules may offer a low cost and safe alternative to acid-based electrolytes

Scientists in the US have developed an alkaline flow battery that they hope will help to tackle the tricky problem of storing energy from renewable power sources such as wind and solar. The new battery’s performance is similar to current commercial flow batteries but uses cheap and non-toxic organic molecules to store energy. By contrast, conventional flow batteries use expensive and hazardous transition metal solutes.

Solar and wind energy resources are a growing issue for utilities as they try to match fluctuating consumer demand for electricity to the intermittent nature of renewable energy generation. In order to stop energy companies from resorting to established coal and gas infrastructure to prop up the electricity grid, many see long term energy storage as a way to effectively integrate renewables into national energy strategies.

Batteries are one technology that offers an answer to this problem, but the market is flooded with different products, from lithium–ion to lead–acid cells, that are costly, potentially hazardous on an industrial scale and unable to store energy for extended periods. But there may be an alternative.

‘Flow batteries are significantly different than conventional batteries,’ comments Robert Savinell, an electrochemical energy storage expert from Case Western Reserve University, US, who was not involved in the work. ‘The reason is that they’re more adaptable for large scale energy storage.’

‘[A flow battery] closely resembles a fuel cell where normally … you have hydrogen and oxygen gas streams entering into an energy conversion device separated by a membrane and you have two electrodes,’ explains Michael Marshak from the University of Colorado Boulder, who led the team that created the new battery. But, in the case of a flow battery a positive and negative liquid electrolyte are pumped into the cell from separate reservoirs. The positive electrolyte gives up electrons, which pass through an external circuit to combine with the negative-charged electrolyte, with cations from the electrode being free to pass through the ion-selective membrane. Following this charging process, the electrolytes can be stored in external tanks and, as the battery current flow is reversible, pumped backed through the central battery for discharging at a later time.

This makes flow batteries easily scalable and adaptable, according to Marshak, as the discharge time only scales with the size of the external electrolyte reservoirs and not the number of batteries used – you only need one.

Going with the flow

However, just like conventional batteries, current flow batteries on the market contain expensive and hazardous electrolytes. ‘The most commercialised flow battery currently is a vanadium flow battery,’ comments Marshak. ‘[They] use vanadium ions dissolved in sulfuric acid and the challenge there is just the sheer cost of vanadium.’

Marshak and his colleagues decided to replace these components with cheaper, earth-abundant and non-toxic compounds in an alkaline solution. The team dissolved commercially available organic molecules, such as 2,6-dihydroxyanthraquinone and ferrocyanide, commonly used as a food additive, in two separate 1M potassium hydroxide solutions and pumped them through a lab-scale flow cell made from graphite flow plates and carbon paper electrodes. The cell performs similarly to its vanadium counterpart and operates at 1.2V, which falls within the voltage range required for commercialisation.

Although the cell can operate at a desirable voltage at room temperature, the fact that it remains stable will perhaps come as a surprise, according the Marshak. ‘Organic molecules – people tend to think of them being able to break down but the ones that we’ve selected are incredibly stable,’ he says. ‘They‘ve actually been used in other industrial processes for a long time, including the dye industry [or in] paper pulping.’

Savinell is impressed with the design and believes that, by operating at higher pH, the alkaline flow battery will gain an edge over acid-based cells and possibly open the door to a whole host of new electrolytes. ‘One advantage is it’s less corrosive … [and] the second advantage is that you can operate at higher voltages,’ he tells Chemistry World. ‘There’s potential for all sorts of different types of quinone-type structures … to come up with perhaps even different systems that are even cheaper or more efficient in the long run.’

Kurt Shafer is Your Solar Power Expert ©2018. All Rights Reserved.
Powered by WordPress. Theme by Phoenix Web Solutions