In recent years with the ever increasing use of renewable energy sources, such as solar energy and wind energy, it has become increasingly important to realize storage systems that allow the energy produced in excess to be kept in reserve. In this way the same can be fed into the grid when renewable energy is not available (during the night, when there is no sun or no wind).
The NantEnergy, a Californian company owned by the entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong, on September 26th, 2018, during the second edition of “One Planet Summit” held in New York, has presented a new type of battery, a zinc-air battery that could become the heir of the traditional lithium, at least as regards energy storage.
In the last six years, 110 villages in Africa and in Asia have received energy from solar panels and batteries that use zinc and oxygen.
Unlike traditional lithium batteries, zinc-air batteries should have several advantages:
- be much cheaper
- do not be inflammable
- be free of toxic compounds
- be disposable safely.
According to Soon-Shiong, the zinc-air batteries should have a cost of only $100 per kWh, compared to about $300/400 per kWh of lithium batteries, even if the final price will depend on the number of pieces produced and from the economies of scale that can be generated.
To date, the cost of $100 per kWh for energy storage remains a significant expense for the utility sector. However, it is expected that in the next few years, given the dramatic drop in prices, the same batteries will become objects of common use, such as residential solar panels.