Solar Battery Innovations in 2023
With solar battery capacity set to double in 2023, new innovations are leading the way to optimize performance, lower cost, improve safety, and advance sustainability. Here are some of the most promising solar battery innovations in 2023:
Artificial Intelligence Optimizes Battery Performance
It has been an exciting year for artificial intelligence (AI) development in 2023, and such advancements are also improving solar battery performance. According to Josh Mitchell, owner of Air Conditioner Lab, this technology “leverages AI algorithms to optimize power usage and prolong battery life.”
Several solar battery products already incorporate AI technology for improved battery performance and lifespan.
Lithium Iron Phosphate Cathodes Lower Costs and Improves Safety
Lithium-ion batteries are a popular choice among homeowners looking to go solar. Cathodes are a crucial component of solar batteries that facilitate charging and discharging. However, traditional cathodes are expensive and pose a risk of catching fire due to overheating. Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) cathodes offer lower costs, enhanced performance, and improved safety features for lithium-ion batteries.
Although lithium iron phosphate cathodes are not completely new, MIT Technology Review reports 2023 could be a “breakout year” for LFP, and the market share “is growing quickly” as technology improves.
Silicon Battery Anodes Increase Storage Capacity
The anodes in solar batteries accept charged particles, facilitating the storage and discharge of energy. Most anodes are made of graphite, but silicone anodes are helping increase energy density and expedite charging.
Researchers and startups have been working to create viable silicon anodes for years, but have faced difficulties with silicon’s durability and longevity. Because of breakthroughs and incremental developments in recent years, silicon anode technology is becoming mainstream in personal electronics and electric cars. As silicon anodes improve, so will solar battery technology.
Iron Flow Batteries Meet Demand for Utility-Scale Energy Storage Solutions
Iron flow batteries are an emerging technology that could meet the increasing demand for energy storage solutions using nontoxic and readily available materials — iron, water, and salt.
Unlike lithium-ion batteries, iron flow batteries are cheaper, longer lasting, and easier to use to increase storage capacity on a large scale. According to the MIT Technology Review, this technology will help utilities make “the electric grid more resilient to extreme weather and other effects of climate change,” a goal at the forefront of local and federal governments in 2023.
ESS is the first major company to store energy on a commercial scale with iron flow batteries, meeting the growing need for multi-hour backup energy capacity. ESS’s first installation, a one-megawatt (MW) plant in Minnesota, is scheduled to finish construction this year. The company also partnered with California’s Sacramento Municipal Utility District in 2022 to generate 200 MW in iron flow batteries.
Scientists Continue Developing Sustainable Battery Technology
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), passed by the Biden administration in August 2022, has spurred massive investments in domestic renewable energy efforts, including research and development.
For example, Vijay Ramani’s research team at the McKelvey School of Engineering received a $2 million federal grant to continue researching the impacts of their alternative solar battery solution. Ramani’s team of researchers has created a battery that uses titanium and cerium to replace the expensive material vanadium in new flow battery technology.
Scientists across the U.S. are developing battery technologies for small- and large-scale projects, focusing on scaling new innovations and finding alternatives for lithium and graphite, two materials in batteries that are exceedingly energy-intensive to mine.