Lithium-ion batteries for your solar PV system

Lithium-ion batteries are now widely used in very many applications and hence are becoming an everyday part of our lives. These applications include but not limited to laptops, electric vehicles to stationary and building-sized applications. This rapid change has been enabled by the reducing price of lithium-ion batteries which has dropped more than 70% between 2010 and 2016. 

Battery electricity storage (BES) using lithium-ion batteries seem to have a similar story of price reduction just like solar photovoltaics (PV) which dropped in price with over 60% in the last decade. As a result, solar + storage is now a common product sold to businesses and homes by solar companies such as Tesla that are able to provide the Tesla power wall and solar panels. Other quality solar battery power systems offering reasonable prices are the Enphase AC Battery and SonnenBatterie Eco.

The lithium-ion batteries are the new generation of battery energy storage advancing from the traditional lead-acid based deep cycle battery technology. Lead-acid batteries are widely used in many sectors because they cost less upfront, but they have a shorter lifespan and require regular maintenance to keep them running properly unlike lithium-ion batteries which are more expensive up front, but maintenance-free and have a longer lifespan. According to EnergySage, a lead-acid battery system cost a few hundred or thousands less than a similarly sized lithium-ion setup. Lithium-ion batteries for solar power systems can cost anywhere from $5000 to $15000 including installation and this is dependent on the size of the PV system.

Based on chemistry there are various types of lithium-ion for battery electricity storage that are produced by different battery manufacturers such as Discover, SimpliPhi, etc. The term “lithium-ion” refers not to a single electrochemical couple but to a wide array of different chemistries, all of which are characterized by the transfer of lithium ions between the electrodes during the charge and discharge reactions. Li-ion cells do not contain metallic lithium; rather, the ions are inserted into the structure of other materials, such as lithiated metal oxides or phosphates in the positive electrode (cathode) and carbon (typically graphite) or lithium titanate in the negative (anode). Lithium-ion chemistry combinations include Lithium Ferro Phosphate (LFP); nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC);lithium manganese oxide (LMO ), nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (NCA) and lithium titanate (LTO). Generally, the various material combinations or chemistry of lithium-ion batteries yield unique performance cost and safety characteristics.

The different chemistries allow for battery energy storage optimization to meet various performance and operational objectives (IRENA, 2017). As such, different electrode or electrolyte selections may be used to design for different applications where reduced costs or high power or high density is required. For instance, lithium titanate (LTO) batteries have very good thermal stability, long cycle life-time, high rate discharge capability and has no solid electrolyte interphase issues (IRENA, 2017). However, LTO batteries will be cost-prohibitive because of the high cost of titanium and will have reduced cell voltage and low energy density compared to lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide which can be tailored for high power or high energy stable thermal profile and can operate at high voltage.

EnergySage Buyer’s Guide for Solar Batteries

EnergySage has prepared a comprehensive solar batteries guide where consumers can browse hundreds of solar batteries from top manufacturers around the world. Solar batteries can provide numerous benefits, especially for property owners in areas that experience demand or time-of-use charges or where net-metering policies are limited in terms of compensation from the grid. Essentially, electricity demand tracks the total amount of energy that is being consumed at a given time. The more devices using electricity at the same time, the higher the customer’s demand charge.

As such, solar batteries can reduce demand charges and provide resiliency, while adding value to solar installations at the same time. When you install a solar battery alongside a solar panel system, you can store extra solar electricity produced by your panels for later use after the sun goes down. Learn more about other aspects of going solar such as obtaining solar quotes and using the EnergySage buyer’s guide for solar panels, solar batteries, and solar inverters. See this solar resource for more details.


Reference:

IRENA (2017), Electricity Storage and Renewables: Costs and Markets to 2030, International Renewable Energy Agency.

Why energy storage systems make sense for renewables

energy storage systems

Energy storage systems enable the ability to store excess renewable electricity for use at a later date. For instance, when it comes to solar power, energy storage is used within off-grid or hybrid solar power systems, which require power to be used at night when there is no sunlight or as a backup solution during power outages.
There are various technologies for energy storage depending on how energy is stored for later use, including but not limited to pumped-hydro, compressed air, flywheels, batteries, and thermal energy storage. In addition, new energy storage technologies are currently under development such as flow batteries, supercapacitors, and superconducting magnetic energy storage. You can learn more about these energy storage systems at EPA.gov.

Batteries as energy storage technologies are becoming increasingly important to the power industry and for powering electric vehicles. One of the batteries that have become widely used is the lithium-ion battery which has been implemented in many locations, especially in the USA. The Tesla Gigafactory is one example where batteries are produced for energy storage systems for solar PV systems and electric vehicles. As such, solar produces clean energy during the day and Tesla’s Powerwall can store energy to power your home at night or during an outage.

When it comes to batteries, there are various types of battery storage systems that use different technologies based on chemistry that enables energy storage capability. For instance, solar batteries used to store excess solar power include four (4) types of batteries, including AGM, GEL, Flooded, and Lithium-ion batteries. These solar batteries use different chemistry or chemical composition to enable energy storage capability. For example, lithium-ion batteries as a group have the advantage of high specific energy as well as high energy and power density relative to other battery technologies because of their chemistry. Lithium-ion batteries usually have a cathode made of a lithium metal oxide, while the anode is often made of graphite.

The advantages of Li-Ion batteries are that they last longer, are more efficient, have a greater energy density, and require no maintenance compared to traditional lead-acid batteries. Great applications for li-ion batteries include backup energy storage for residential and commercial places. Lithium-ion batteries are also used by installers and power utilities to ensure a long-term, hassle-free, emergency backup power supply. In general, energy storage has become an important component for variable renewables such as solar and wind to enable excess power to be stored in batteries when solar or wind generation is high to be later used when power generation is low.

Against this background, this blog attempts to capture about four (4) reasons why energy storage systems are increasingly used with renewable energy systems:

energy storage systems

1. The reducing cost of energy storage systems and the increasing demand of variable renewable energy

    Because of the increasing demand of energy storage technologies, their cost has been falling rapidly and by the year 2030, IRENA estimates that the installed cost of battery storage systems could fall by over 50%. The declining cost in the wind and solar and the increased focus on adding renewables to the grid is driving the interest to lower the cost of energy storage. For instance, the price of lithium-ion batteries has fallen by about 80% over the last five years according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) enabling the integration of storage into solar power systems. Also, there has been a tremendous increase in the amount of energy storage that is been deployed. A market research firm, Wood Mackenzie Power and Renewables has forecast that energy storage systems will increase to top 5.4 gigawatts and the market value is forecast to increase from $720 million today to $5.1 billion in 2024.

    energy storage systems

    2. To increase solar and wind penetration in the grid

      With the increasing penetration of renewable energy into the grid, energy storage has become an important component for variable renewables such as wind and solar. Utilities are using energy storage systems to counter the intermittent nature of variable renewable energy. Energy storage systems store excess electricity during off-peak periods and use it when the demand for electricity is high. Using energy storage systems help to stabilize the grid with the increasing penetration of variable renewable energy.

      3. To reduce time of use (TOU) charges and other charges

        Energy storage for renewable energy consumers can help to save more energy when the utility bill charges such as consumption, demand, and time of use (TOU) charges are well applied and understood. Energy storage systems can help to reduce demand charges by charging for instance batteries when the demand at the facility is low and discharging when the demand at the facility is peaking or high i.e. applying peak saving. Also, energy storage can reduce TOU charges by charging when the energy cost is low (e.g. in the middle of the night) and discharging when the energy cost is high (e.g. late afternoon). By reducing demand charges and TOUs, renewable energy consumers can reduce their utility bills significantly by charging and discharging when it is needed.

        4. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel sourced electricity

          energy storage systems
          Energy storage can allow renewable energy consumers to displace more fossil fuel sourced electricity by storing any excess power generated during the day in the case of solar power and discharging during peak hours when it is highly needed. New energy storage systems can allow storage of electricity generated from wind and solar on shorter time frames to smooth variability, and on longer cycles to replace even more fossil fuels. For instance, new energy storage systems like flow batteries have relatively little degradation of their fluids or electrolyte solutions giving them longer charge-discharge cycles and longer life spans. They can also be scaled to match growing needs relatively by increasing the amount of fluid in the tanks. As such, reducing electricity sourced from fossil-fuels or reducing fossil fuel dependence will eventually help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

          Solar batteries for your-solar PV system

          Why solar batteries?

          solar batteryA battery is a device that stores chemical energy and converts it to electricity through the electrochemistry process. A battery can be made up of one or several electrochemical cells. Each electrochemical cell consists of two electrodes separated by an electrolyte allowing the flow of electrons between the two electrodes and electricity is produced. Generally, batteries store energy for later use and can have many applications such as powering equipment or gadgets not connected to the grid. Also, solar batteries are used to store power from solar panels for later use perhaps at night when there is no sunshine or during cloudy days when less power is generated by solar panels.

          What are solar panel batteries?

          Solar batteries are devices that are built using the electrochemistry technology and contain electrochemical cells that are connected in series with 2 electrodes immersed in the electrolyte solution and a circuit formed between the electrode and the electrolyte to produce an electrical current. The electrochemical cells are the ones that convert chemical energy into electrical energy.  There are several types of solar batteries that are used in connections to store electricity that is tapped from the solar system. However, the most common solar batteries include the lead-acid batteries and lithium-ion batteries.

          1. Lead-acid batteries generally used in motor vehicles and are low-cost compared to all other types. They are generally bulky but have a relatively large power due to their ability to supply high surge currents considering their volume and relative weight.
          2. Lithium-ion batteries are known for their best energy density and a very slow loss of charge when not in use and commonly used for portable electronics such as cellphones and electric vehicles. A popular example is Tesla Powerwall.

          solar batteryWhen are solar panel batteries needed?

          Solar batteries are useful to store excess electricity for your solar photovoltaic system in cases where:

          1. You want to supplement power from the grid with your solar power to reduce electricity costs.
          2. You are completely not connected to the grid and you use solar panel batteries’ to store electricity for later use.
          1. Supplementing your grid-connected solar power system with batteries:

          Through net-metering, a solar power system can be connected to the grid to help feed excess electricity to the grid or draw it to supplement your energy demand. Feeding excess electricity to the grid through net-metering comes with incentives such as reduced utility bills. However, in areas where net metering policies either don’t exist or are limited, adopting solar batteries can help to store excess electricity and use it when it is much economical to do so.

          electric gridAlso, depending on the type of electricity rate structure including time-of-use (TOU) rates as well as demand charges, solar batteries can be used to store electricity to reduce these utility charges. As such, solar batteries will be useful to help to reduce your electricity bill when you understand your TOU and demand charges. TOU rates approach allows utility companies to charge different rates for electricity, where the cost of energy varies based on the time of day it is consumed.

          On the other hand, the demand charge is set based upon your maximum hourly power requirement and hence the best way to decrease your electric bill when energy demand is factored in is to decrease your electric bill all at once. As such, utilizing solar batteries will help to lower your overall energy demand thus reducing your energy demand charges as well as high TOU rates. For instance, you can use electricity stored in the solar batteries during high TOU rates and consequently reduce your utility bill.

          2. Areas not connected to the grid.

          Areas not connected to the grid can benefit a lot from solar power. However, since there is no sunshine at night, you will need solar batteries to store excess electricity produced during the day for later use at night when it is extremely needed for lighting and other uses. About 1.1 billion people around the world still lack electricity and solar-powered mini-grids are well-suited in remote areas as it is much affordable and faster to electrify these areas using renewables than extending the main grid. As such, solar batteries will be needed to help store excess power produced by solar panels during the day and use it at night when it is needed.

          How much do solar batteries cost

          Just like solar panels, upfront costs of solar batteries depend on the make and model and there are various types and models of solar batteries in the market today. According to EnergySage, solar batteries’ cost before installation range between $5,000 to $7,000 or from $400 dollars per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to $750/kWh. This cost does not include the cost of the installation which is done by a licensed electrician. For instance, the 13.5-kilowatt-hour (kWh) Tesla Powerwall 2.0 is priced at $6,700 but has a built-in inverter while the LG’s 9.3kWh Chem RESU battery does not have a built-in inverter and cost about $6,000 to $7,000. However, as mentioned before will vary based on how many solar batteries are needed, the make, and the model of the solar battery. At EnergySage, you can get solar battery quotes from different vendors and compare their different prices.

          The EnergySage Solar Batteries Buyer’s Guidesolar batteries

          The EnergySage has developed a comprehensive classification system where users can browse and compare several solar batteries’ to evaluate their quality ratings based on their most important aspects such as cost, capacity, power, round-trip efficiency, degradation rate, and warranty.

          This classification system captures various battery technical specifications such as performance, durability, warranty, and overall quality, and using this system, the EnergySage has grouped different solar batteries into five different classifications i.e. Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good and Excellent. EnergySage solar batteries buyer’s guide has captured several solar batteries from different top manufacturers and you can get price quotes here.

          The EnergySage platform is a good starting point to assist you with your solar buying decision, however, it will take a licensed solar installer to make a good assessment of your household or business. In particular, a solar installer will assess your power project requirements, your energy requirements to help you decide on your solar panel and battery requirements.

          Get started with a solar panel cost calculator from the EnergySage to estimate your solar panel requirements and get more advice about your battery requirements based on your energy profile or consumption.

          Goal Zero Yeti 500X Portable Power Station

          Goal Zero Yeti 500X Portable Power Station

          Goal Zero Yeti 500X can be powered with the sun or charged using your mains power or using your car and has a lithium-ion internal battery.

          It weighs about 12.9 pounds a little bit lighter than the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500, another generator that can be powered using solar and that weighs about 13.32lbs. It has a two (2) year manufacturer warranty.

          Goal Zero was formed with the idea of providing energy solutions in developing countries that lack the basic access to light. Goal Zero also designs products that can lift the poorest of the poor while at the same time extremely relevant to the richest of rich.

          Goal Zero Yeti 500X like the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500 has a lithium-ion battery of 500Wh capacity. The lithium-ion battery is rechargeable with about 500 life-cycles to 80% capacity (Discharge rate: 0.2C, Full charge/discharge, Temp: 25C) with a shelf-life charge of about three (3) to six (6) months. 

          The following are the output and input power ratings for the Goal Zero Yeti 500X with regards to the USB port power output, solar panel port (6 mm port for the output and 8mm for the input), 12V car port output and 120V AC inverter (sine wave):

          • USB port (Output): 5V, up to 2.4A (12W max), regulated
          • USB-C port (Output): 5/9V, up to 3.0A (18W max), Regulated
          • USB-C PD port (Input/ Output): 5-20V, up to 3.0A (60W max), Regulated
          • 6mm port (output, 6mm): 12V, up to 10A (120W max)
          • 12V car port (Output): 12V, up to 10A (120W max), Regulated
          • 120V AC Inverter: 120VAC 60Hz, 2.5A (300W, 1200W surge) (output, pure sine wave)
          • Charging port (input, 8mm): 13-22V, up to 10A (120W max)

          The Goal Zero Yeti 500X comes with a 300-watt AC pure sine wave inverter and has a high-speed charging capability through its 60-watt USB-CPD port capable of charging USB-C laptops, tablets, mirrorless cameras, and phones in a fraction of the time.

          As such, the Goal Zero Yeti 500X is good to power your outdoor activities such as hiking, backyard camping, backpacking, etc. For Goal Zero Yeti 500X to become a solar generator so that you can enjoy the unlimited free power from the sun, Goal Zero recommends the following solar pairings as recommended by Goal Zero depending on whether it is being used for light usage, standard usage or heavy usage. The below solar panels are sold separately:
          1. Light usage: Goal Zero recommends the Goal Zero Nomad 20 solar panel that charges in 29-58 hours. The Nomad 20 solar panel is rated at 20W with an open-circuit voltage (Voc) of between18 – 22V and the cell type of the panel is monocrystalline.

          Goal Zero Nomad 20 solar panel

          2. Standard usage: Goal Zero recommends the Goal Zero Boulder 50 solar panel that charges in 12-24 hours. The Boulder 50 solar panel is rated at 50 watts with an open circuit voltage of18-20V and the cell-type of the solar panel is monocrystalline.

          Goal Zero Boulder 50 solar panel
          3. Heavy usage: Goal zero recommends the Goal Zero Boulder 100 briefcase solar panel that charges in 6 – 12 hours also sold separately. The Boulder 100 briefcase solar panel is rated at 100 watts with an open circuit voltage of 18-20V and the cell-type of the solar panel is monocrystalline.

          Goal Zero Boulder 100 briefcase solar panel

          According to Goal Zero, the above charge times assume standard conditions of 75 degrees and 1000 watts/meter squared solar radiance. The lower end of the range requires frequent repositioning for faster charge times while the high end of the charge assumes the solar panel is in a fixed position resulting in longer charge times.’

          You can also compare pricing or other technical features on eBay

          Earth Day 2020 is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.

          Earth Day 2020Earth Day 2020 is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day although unfortunately, the world is facing global sustainability issues such as COVID 19, climate change, and other issues.
          Achieving sustainability is a work in progress and calls for a constant evolution of technologies, ideas, and concepts to develop solutions that are practical and effective. Sustainability solutions will be resilient and focused on overcoming technical and policy barriers that prevent the uptake of sustainability in different sectors of society.

          As of today, the world is experiencing some of the pressing global challenges that we probably have not experienced in our lifetimes. Clearly, technology will not or does not provide all the answers that we need today, however, it will help to speed up or assist in moving us towards a sustainable path. Technological solutions are just one part of the big picture as other solutions include policy, regulations, sustainable business as well as innovative financing options that are effective to promote sustainability from a systems’ perspective.

          Technology can be broadly defined as the entities, both material and conceptual created by the application of mental and physical effort to achieve some value. Technological change, on the other hand, can refer to several yet compatible concepts involving an improvement in technology or technological progress. According to Rogers (2003), the idea of technological change underpins a social process involving adopters and others who are profoundly affected by its cultural setting, political institutions, and marketing strategies.

          Sustainability calls for new concepts and ideas to reverse, for instance, the effects of climate change. Solar photovoltaics (PV) is just one of many of the new technologies to help in sustainability efforts. IRENA notes that renewables such as solar PV and energy efficiency offer a safe, reliable, and affordable way to achieve massive decarbonization in line with keeping the rise in global temperatures “well below 2°C”. IRENA’s analysis shows the combination of renewables, energy efficiency and increased electrification could achieve 90% of the reductions needed in energy-related emissions.

          wind power
          Renewables are also becoming cost-effective and with time we have seen for example solar power at grid parity. Grid parity is the point when the cost of alternative energy becomes equal to or less than electricity from conventional energy forms like fossil fuels. As such, renewable energy subsidies are now been phased out, and, in the USA for instance, the investment tax credit (ITC) to support consumers in switching to solar was reduced at the beginning of this year from 30% to 26%.

          Now, the solar investment tax credit is available to homeowners in some form through 2021. In 2020 & 2021 owners of new residential and commercial solar can deduct 26% or 22% of the cost of the system from their taxes respectively. The ITC will then be reduced to 10% available for only owners of new commercial solar energy systems while there will be no federal credit for residential solar energy systems’.

          Furthermore, IRENA’s analysis of renewable energy shows that the cost of electricity from renewable energy technologies has fallen steadily and even dramatically in recent years, and since 2000, especially for solar and wind generation and are now seen as viable commercial options. Also, power generation from renewable sources and technologies has become competitive with fossil-based or nuclear power.

          biogas technology

          Food waste is another issue that has become a huge sustainability issue over the last decade. In particular, food waste is a major source of methane (CH4) which is one of the most potent gases that is causing climate change. If food waste were a country, it would come in third after the United States and China in terms of impact on global warming. Hence, reducing food waste around the world would help curb emissions of planet-warming gases, lessening some of the impacts of climate change such as more extreme weather and rising seas.

          With these sustainability challenges, it is clear that Earth Day 2020 presents us with an opportunity to contribute to efforts of fighting sustainability issues facing planet Earth and there so many solutions as we have captured above. Here at reneenergy.com, we want to thank you for your continued support and for subscribing to our blog posts. Thank you again. Please subscribe below if you haven’t to keep you posted about our blog posts.



          Jackery Portable Power Station-Explorer 160 Solar Generator

          • Jackery is a USA company founded in California in 2012 which specializes in providing outdoor green power solutions.
          • The Jackery Portable Power Station is designed for charging cellphones, tablets, laptops, and other smaller electronics because of its lithium-ion battery capacity of 167 watt-hours (46, 400 milliamp hours @ 3.6 volts ). As such, it provides eco-friendly clean power as it does not need any gasoline/diesel to power it and does not emit any fumes or produce a loud noise.
          • It is good to power your outdoor activities such as hiking, backyard camping, backpacking, etc.
          • There are three (3) ways to recharge the Jackery Portable Power Station, including:
          1. You can recharge it using the wall power socket in your home if you are connected to the grid. A full charge takes about 5 hours.
          2. Recharge it using the 12V/10A car cigarette lighter port. A full charge takes about 5 hours.
          3. Recharge it using the 60W/100W Jackery Solar Saga solar panel (sold separately) or any other solar panel that is compatible with the Jackery Portable Power Station. A full charge takes about 8 to 10 hours depending on the weather.
          4. Jackery recommends in case you use your own solar panel to make sure that the output voltage of the solar panel is between 12-30V to be compatible with Explorer 160 solar generator.

          • Included with the Jackery Portable Power station is * Jackery Explorer 160 Portable Power Station (167Wh Portable Power Station), 1*AC adapter, 1* car charger cable, 1*DC to car adapter cable, an AC inverter(110V 60Hz 100W 150W Peak), and 1* user guide.
          • The rated output power of the Explorer 160 is 100W and hence cannot power or charge devices that operate more than 100-watt. It powers smaller electronics: like smartphones, tablets, cameras, led lights, laptops, Mini-fridge, etc. It cannot support devices more than 100W such as CPAP, toaster, heater, hairdryer, electric drill, electric kettle, induction cooker, rice cooker, blender, etc.
          • Specifications for Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160 are:

           Battery Capacity: 167Wh ( 11.6Ah, 14.4V) ;(46,400mah,3.6V)
           Input (DC 8MM): 12V~30V 42W Max
           1* AC outlet : 110V 60Hz Continuous 100W Peak 150W
           1* USB-C output port: 5V 3A
           2* USB-A output ports: 5V 2.4A
           1* DC Output port (6MM port): 12V/7A
           Dimensions: 7.40*4.59*6.73 in
           Weight: 3.97 lbs

          Learn more about the Jackery Portable Power Station or buy it on Amazon.

          Nature’s Generator System 1800W Solar & Wind Powered

          This type of solar generator is hybrid in nature as it can allow you to connect to solar panels or wind power generators at the same time and enjoy the benefits of renewable energy. It is designed to have two ports and one of the ports is for solar panel(s) with an output of 100-watt while the second port can be used for the wind generator that can be purchased separately as well.

          It also has a built-in 1800W Pure Sine Wave Inverter to provide quality power that can be used to power sensitive equipment like medical equipment, computers or an ideal solution for off-grid living, camping, RV’s/Vans, boats or generally used during power outages.  

          The hybrid solar/wind generator comes with a Bluetooth application that can work with both iOS and android—useful for monitoring the charge in your battery or monitoring both the power produced by your solar panels and the wind generator. You can also monitor the runtimes for all the devices or appliances connected to the system.

          The wind component of this hybrid power system makes it possible to continue using it during cloudy or at night when there is no enough solar. It comes with two types of the wind-turbine edition, that is:

          Nature’s Generator GOLD System: Wind Turbine Edition with a total output of 1800 watt that includes one 100-watt solar panel with a battery capacity of 720-watt hour

          Nature’s Generator PLATINUM System – Wind Turbine Edition: with a total output of 1800 watt that includes three 100-watt solar panels with a battery capacity of 1920 watt-hour

          Below are the System Specifications

          • Generator Outlets/ Ports, Inverter & Battery –
          • Three 120V household AC outlets
          • Two USB ports (3A of combined power)
          • One 12V DC port (240W max)
          • Expansion Port: 200A Fuse
          • Charging AC Input (90W)
          • Solar Input (200W Max)
          • Wind Input (300W Max)
          • Generator Output Power: 1800W max
          • Generator Output Wave Form: Pure Sine Wave
          • Generator Output Voltage: 120V
          • Generator Output Frequency: 60Hz
          • Built-in 60Ah SLA battery (Keep plugged in or recharge every 2-3 months of non-use)
          • Built-in charge controller
          • Built-in low battery protection

          How and where to dispose of batteries in a sustainable way?

          where to dispose batteriesThe battery technology just like solar PV technology continues to advance and today there are various types of batteries being used to help power equipment or store energy for electricity. As the solar PV sector continues to grow whether with on-grid or off-grid solar applications; the battery technology will help to accelerate the increased adoption of solar PV in domestic, commercial and utility sectors and other renewable energy technologies that are intermittent in nature like the wind energy.
          Similarly, with the rapid development of electric cars in various countries, it means that we will see the demand for battery technology continue to grow exponentially. Solar PV and electric vehicles(EV) will definitely demand increased usage of the battery technology among other sectors that require batteries such as agricultural, commercial or even the household sector where batteries are used for TV remotes, flashlights, children’s toys and small electronics like cellphones.

          However, even with these technological developments; how and where to dispose of batteries after their useful life is completed is one aspect of sustainability that will need to be tackled from a system thinking perspective. At the development stage of these batteries, it calls for implementing sustainable design to make it easy to recycle most of the components of the battery technology in question. For instance, researchers at the IBM research unveiled recently a new battery technology that will eliminate the need for heavy metals in battery production hence improving sustainable design.

          As such, before looking into proper ways of disposing batteries, it is good to know what batteries are, the different types of batteries, and what they are made up of, making them something that requires proper disposal. Well, batteries are a collection of one or a group of cells that undergo various chemical reactions to create a continuous flow of electrons in a circuit.

          Battery cells are generally classified into three components that is the anode, also known as the negative electrode, cathode, also known as the positive electrode, and finally, the electrolytes. For sustainability, the battery chemical composition will matter as it will guide how a battery will be disposed of after its useful life. For instance, in the USA, when it comes to lead-acid batteries, 99% of these batteries are collected and recycled.

          However, according to the World Economic Forum, recycling lithium-ion batteries is a bit challenging due to the diversity of cell types and the broad range of materials such as an alloy of cobalt, nickel, and copper that may require manual sorting and handling or even smelting (pyrometallurgy) to recover individual metals or battery raw materials such as cobalt carbonate.

          Types of batteries

          There are many types of batteries classified according to their chemical composition, formation factor, size, and the purpose they serve. They include:

          1. Primary batteries: These are a kind of batteries that cannot be recharged once fully used. These batteries are made up of electrochemical cells that their electrochemical reactions can also not be reversed. This kind of battery is usually used in devices that require no charging. Primary batteries are made up in a way that they provide high specific energy, and whenever used, the devices consume little power to ensure the battery has a long life span. The most common kind of primary batteries is alkaline batteries. They have higher specific energy levels, are environmentally friendly, and are cheaper to purchase.
          2. Secondary batteries are the direct opposite of primary batteries. Secondary batteries can be recharged, and their electrochemical cells and electrochemical reactions can be reversed when all the energy has been fully used up. The secondary batteries are commonly known as the rechargeable batteries. Secondary batteries can be classified into different groups depending on their chemistry or chemical composition.
            1. Lithium-ion: they are also known as Li-ion batteries. They are used in smart devices such as mobile phones and other battery home appliances. It has Lithium electrodes on it.
            2. Nickel Cadmium: Also known as Ni-Cd batteries. They are made up of nickel oxide hydroxide chemical and the metallic cadmium as the electrodes.
            3. Nickel-Metal hydride. This kind of batteries has the same chemical reaction to Ni-Cd batteries, which is nickel oxide hydroxide. Although, a negative electrode uses hydrogen-absorbing alloy, but not cadmium like the Ni-Cd batteries.solar battery
            4. Lead-acid batteries: Lead-acid batteries are cheaper efficient power batteries that are used in heavy-duty applications. They are usually used in instances where they are non-portable because of their weight. Lead-acid batteries are used in an application that includes vehicle batteries for ignition and lighting and also as solar-panel energy stores. Lead-acid batteries are made up of acid that is used to ensure proper current flow in the circuit. Lead-acid batteries are the oldest form of secondary batteries and are relatively cheap compared to the other secondary batteries.

          where to dispose batteries

          Where to dispose of batteries

          Batteries are disposed of depending on the type which determines their chemical composition.

          a) Household batteries: Household batteries can be classified into two groups, either rechargeable or non-rechargeable batteries. Disposing of the household batteries is not as complicated as disposing of the vehicle and industrial batteries.

          According to battery solutions, alkaline batteries (AAA, AA, C, D, 9V, etc.) can be recycled using a specialized “room temperature,” mechanical separation process to recycle alkaline batteries.

          The alkaline battery components are separated into three end products, that is, a zinc and manganese concentrate, steel, and paper, plastic and brass fractions. All of these products are put back into the market place for reuse in new products to offset the cost of the recycling process.

          However, when it comes to rechargeable batteries, for example, lithium batteries are recyclable. They can, therefore, be disposed of at the battery recycling centers, electronic retailers who recycle batteries, or a waste collection site for hazardous materials. Therefore, ensuring you dispose of batteries properly.

          b) Industrial batteries.

          Industrial batteries can also be referred to as forklift or traction batteries. Industrial batteries can normally be drained to about 20% of the maximum charging capacity before a recharge.

          Industrial batteries are manufactured with lead plates making them not disposable in the trash. Lead is considered to be a hazardous waste that is highly toxic to the environment. So when it comes to the industrial batteries, an estimated 60 to 80 percent of the used battery is normally reclaimed. More than 95 percent of the industrial lead-acid batteries are recycled.

          The outer plastic shell is recycled to make some new plastic items, whereas the metal plates undergo purification to manufacture new batteries. In most states, there is a law that accepts the return of the industrial batteries to the retailer for disposal purposes. In case one cannot trace the retailer, they can contact the government officials for the information on the directions to follow to ensure proper disposal of the industrial batteries, industrial batteries maybe containing sulphuric acid that is harmful.

          Safety precaution is normally advised when transporting the batteries for disposal. One should also avoid exposing the batteries to open flames or incidental devices like the cigarette lighters just for precaution measures.

          c) Vehicle batteries: Car batteries are made out of lead-acid which is hazardous. It is, therefore, essential to dispose of it carefully just to avoid harmful side effects that can be life-threatening to human beings. There are many ways to dispose of vehicle batteries.
          where to dispose batteries

          • Returning the battery to a retailer. When purchasing the battery, there is normally a core charge fee certain retailers usually add in the receipts. This charge means that the battery is essential to the retailer. It can either be recycled or be rebuilt. Meaning that you can return the battery to the retailers, and they refund back your money with the same amount you paid as a core charge fee.
          • Taking the car battery to a recycling depot: You can check on the closest designated recycling depots near you on the internet and dispose of your car battery there for disposals.
          • Taking the car battery to an auto parts store: You can make your take battery to an auto parts store as you go buy another one.
          • Selling the car battery to scrap metal depot: One can decide to sell their batteries off to the scrap metal depot near them at a fee.
          • Taking the car batteries to battery recycling centers where they can recycle them and make something good out of them.

          Each state has its own recycling program while resources such as Earth911 have a comprehensive online platform for helping online users decide on how to dispose of old batteries. Earth911 provides a recycling locator for all types of batteries where you just enter your zip code and it pulls the details for your specific battery and how or where to recycle them.

          Call2Recycle is another online resource that offers a network of over 34,000 local recycling centers and drop-off locations for rechargeable batteries such as local municipalities and local retailers like Best Buy.

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          Sustainability, Systems Thinking, Going Green & Going solar

          switchtosolar llc

          What are we about?
          Switchingtosolarpv.com is your platform to help you figure out your best going solar options and other clean energy options available to you.

          We are about helping you to find tools and information mainly about sustainability options, systems thinking, going green and going solar through our blog posts and data science analysis.

          Solar Energy Options & Sustainability
          We provide tools and information to help you decide about renewable energy options, including but not limited to:

          Solar Panel Calculator

          If you live in the United States, you can use a solar panel calculator today to determine if solar energy is good for your home or business through this Solar Calculator.

          Please feel free to contact us with any questions or clarifications that you may have.

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          What is the cost of solar panels?

          what is the cost of solar panelsThe solar photovoltaics (PV) technology continues to advance every year and its applications are increasing ranging from on-grid solar, off-grid solar, hybrid solar (PV), and portable solar solutions.

          All these applications use solar PV technology as the primary component to generate solar electricity for homes or commercial places. As a result, the cost of solar panels is the main driver of the price of such systems despite whether they are on-grid, off-grid, hybrid, or even portable applications.

          Since the year 2010, the price for solar panels has declined by over 70% and continues to decrease by at least 10% every year. Today(2020), the average price per watt for solar panels ranges from $2.57 to $3.35 according to EnergySage.

          Comparing this price to the price of solar panels of about $76.67/watt in 1977, the cost of solar panels has declined by over 99% resulting to the use of solar panels to big equipment like 2000MW utility-scale solar PV power plants to even on very small gadgets like solar cell phone chargers.

          The goal of research and development (R&D) is to reach higher efficiency and lowered solar panel costs. In addition to first-generation solar panels (wafer-based solar panels), R&D efforts have introduced second-generation solar panels which are the thin-film solar panels and third-generation solar panels that incorporate organic materials such as organometallic compounds and inorganic materials.

          A faster and an easy way to know what is the cost of solar panels

          The EnergySage provides a platform where you can compare the technical parameters of many solar panels before requesting a quote for them. You can compare and contrast at the EnergySage solar marketplace as there are thousands of solar panels available today that differ in the solar panel type, cost, wattage, and warranty offered.

          For more information, you can visit the EnergySage solar panel marketplace to obtain more information about the solar panels you may be interested in and obtain a quote.electric vehicles
          For residential systems, the size of residential solar systems ranges from 3kW – 10 kW, and their cost will vary anywhere between $15,000 and $40,000 depending on system size and availability of incentives.

          This cost is also dependent on solar PV parts, the labor, overhead, and permitting fees. In general, you will realize that the bigger the system is, the cost per watt is also low. The average price per watt for solar panels ranges from $2.57 to $3.35, and solar panel costs for an average-sized installation in the U.S. usually range from $11,411 to $14,874 after solar tax credits.

          Amazon.com is another platform you can use to purchase different types of solar panels, especially for off-grid applications such as portable solar panels for RV, portable solar panels for backpacking, portable solar panels for hiking, portable solar panels for travel trailers, portable solar panels for campers.

          At Amazon.com, you can compare pricing for these types of solar panels and reading customer reviews for such types of solar panels. You can also check other different solar PV gadgets such as solar generators, solar phone chargers, solar lighting, and solar water pumping solar panels.
          solar panels