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Sodium Batteries for LDES becoming a viable option

For some time now, sodium-ion batteries have been talked about as a new technology to complement the dominant lithium-ion batteries. Benefits include lower costs due to sodium being a highly abundant material, improved safety due to less issues with thermal runway, and wider operating temperature ranges. 

This article highlights the promising growth of the technology for long duration energy storage, with GetFocus' AI-based patent analysis of 30 LDES technologies, finding that sodium-ion batteries show the most promise with continual improvements on round-trip efficiency, energy density, operational flexibility, less energy loss during storage and supply, and reduced cost per unit of stored energy. Interestingly, this analysis also predict that the high improvement rate of sodium-ion batteries could lead to cell costs as low as $10/kWh by 2028, which would be a gamechanger.

When it comes to the geographical landscape, so far China has an upper hand on commercial scale developments. As we all know, China dominates the mature lithium-ion battery market, enabling them to be one step ahead when it comes to commercialising nex-gen innovations. This week state-owned China Datang Corporation and Hina Battery (supplier) have installed a 100MWh sodium-ion ESS, one of the world's largest of it's kind project. Alongside this, Great Power open a 50MW/100MWh LDES project to support a major data center, CATL unveil their 2nd generation 200 Wh/kg. sodium-ion batteries (although geared towards EVs), and further examples by China Southern Power Grid and Beijing Xuexiong Technology.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Japanese manufacturers Sumitomo Electric, Hitachi, and Yuasa Battery are also leading on developments of sodium-ion batteries as highlighted in the report.

It's a common story in the battery world, Asia, and particularly China, running ahead. It makes you ask, do Europe have a chance?

Well there is hope… There are a collection of European players making big impacts on the space.

Tiamat in France landed €30M investment to launch their first 5GWh production line starting later this year. US scale-up Natrion have chosen Switzerland for one of their manufacturing sites, and Swedish startup Altris are making smart JV collaborations with Northvolt with breakthroughs on a 160Wh/kg sodium-ion battery cell, making it a viable option for ESS.

In the UK, you have exciting companies like Faradion, who we've previously partnered with, who are owned by Indian giants Reliance, enabling them to scale significantly, and LiNa Energy, a Hyperion client, whose unique solid-stage sodium battery design enables lower at-scale production costs meaning pathways to profitability are much shorter i.e. at <GWh scale. Naturally, for investors, this is an attractive proposition and therefore gives hope for industrialisation of their technology.

As a leader of the Energy Storage practice at Hyperion, it's fantastic to see new, alternative technologies mature towards commercialisation. If we're going to achieve our clean energy objectives, then we will need a tapestry of technologies and sodium-batteries looks like one of the most promising.

Overall, sodium-ion batteries’ compact footprint and cost-effective integration with renewable sources will position them as the dominant LDES technology for a variety of applications. Their versatility, applicability for both front-of-the-meter such as near wind or solar farms and behind-the-meter, has them poised to revolutionise the LDES market in the coming years, found the researchers.