Why Aren’t Lithium-ion Batteries Used For Grid-Level Storage?

In terms of energy storage, lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) can be applied to applications ranging from small portable device applications to complex centralized backup systems. But the question is, why aren’t lithium-ion batteries used for grid-level storage? 

Li-ion batteries have a shorter lifespan than it’s expected to be for using in grid-level storage. Alongside, using lithium-ion batteries in grid storage is much more expensive. The grid-scale energy storage system can store a bulk amount of electric power and then release it back to the grid when the supply drops. 

While grid-level storage seems too essential for this modern world, proponents of Li-ion batteries are wondering why they aren’t used in this type of storage. Our experts have also taken the concern on hand, let’s explore the fact in detail. 

What is Grid-Scale Energy Storage? 

What is Grid-Scale Energy Storage

Electricity demand varies throughout the day, seasonally, and even heavily based on the eventual availability of electricity.

As a result, the peak of day and night results in a large-scale difference between night and day. That’s where we feel the need to store the already-generated power and provide power during adverse times from grid storage.

The Grid-Scale storage system is an industrial and scalable technology for the economical storage of electrical energy. Grid-Scale uses a crushed rock as a relatively inexpensive receiver. 

The system meets strong energy efficiency criteria, which make it suitable for storing electricity, even over large areas. This is why grid-level energy storage has become a crucial means of storing electrical energy for large-scale and various applications of electricity.

Why Aren’t Lithium-ion Batteries Used For Grid-Level Storage? 

Why Aren’t Lithium-ion Batteries Used For Grid-Level Storage

In this modern era, lithium-ion batteries have become one of the prime choices for rechargeable power storage. County data reveal that Li-ion batteries are very efficient, providing plenty of energy at low weight. They also boast a lifetime of roughly 10 years for mass production applications, including the mass market. 

On top of that, the thermal stability of these batteries is sky high. Due to all of these, they can be used in many applications, whether cell phones, power drills, or a vehicle. 

But, the fact is that the diversified uses of Li-ion batteries are mostly limited to fulfilling small-scale energy needs. 

A few factors are responsible for this. These may include:

  • Too Much Expensive

Today, utility companies accept energy storage if it costs less than $100 per kilowatt hour and has a life expectancy of at least 1 million cycles. 

But, a Li-ion chemistry-based grid-scale storage system costs $1,000 per kWh because of the difficulty in industrial-grade production. The more concerning fact is that this technology is only in its development stages. 

  • Limited Lifespan

The major problem with lithium-ion batteries is their life expectancy. Life expectancy is defined as the number of full charge-discharge cycles to reach a capacity loss or impedance in accordance with the increased threshold. 

Lithium-ion batteries will reach a capacity loss in 500 charge-discharge cycles and need around 1000-1500 cycles before declining to half of their original capacity.

In that situation, when you use a smartphone, it’s okay to dispose of it every two years, and that is also ideal for electric vehicles that last only a few hours or make even less use of their total range. 

But a rechargeable battery slated for daily use, for solar panels on your roof, will die sooner than your devices based on batteries that are replaced every year.

Challenges for The Application of Li-ion Batteries in Grid-scale Energy Storage

Challenges for The Application of Li-ion Batteries in Grid-scale Energy Storage

Numerous experts go on to claim that Li-ion batteries hold substantial potential for grid-level application. Nevertheless, there are several challenges that need to be overcome before grid-scale applications are mass-produced. 

  • Significant revenue reductions will make it possible to realize considerable growth of LIBs as a power supply for the grid. At the same time, the high cost of LIBs in stationary applications is limiting the system’s cost-effectiveness, which is making it harder to generate more widespread adoption.
  • New effective approaches to handling a LIB recovery business and its environmental impact are crucial to making sure industry growth continues. It’s critical to successfully reduce raw material extraction and battery disposal and reduce the risk of material bottlenecks and their pricing impacts to maintain easily approaching industry growth.
  • New research should focus on the development of battery performance from grid-level energy storage systems by integrating high voltage, energy density, service life, energy, and power densities, while at the same time providing a safe environment that includes low energy, carbon emissions, and cost. LIBs currently outperform former competitive battery types but need more research and improvement in this regard.

Alternative Batteries for Grid level Storage

Alternative Batteries for Grid level Storage

Till now, several successful battery storage options have been evaluated to work as alternatives to Li-ion batteries for gird-scale storage. Given the current state of technological breakthroughs, it seems likely that various processes will continue in the coming years. However, here are some of the major alternatives mentioned below:

  • Zinc-hybrid Batteries

The most recent generation of batteries using zinc-hybrid technology has quickly gained traction in the energy storage field. This technology is seen as a reliable competitor for large-scale batteries and can undercut rival technologies in terms of costs. 

Zinc-containing substances are widely available and, consequently, are subsequently less expensive than the materials used to construct lithium-ion or flow batteries. 

Zinc-hybrid batteries have more advanced stages of development than batteries with lithium or sulfur, so they are more economically feasible at this moment than later.

  • Sodium-sulfur

Sodium-sulfur (NaS) batteries are lithium-ion alternatives that provide a number of performance functions for grid-scale energy storage purposes. For instance,  NaS batteries provide high energy density and greater efficiency compared to other lead-acid batteries.   

This battery technology uses nontoxic and inexpensive materials with high energy density  (as much as twice that of lead acid) and good functionality. 

NaS aims to achieve the least cost per unit of electricity in a stationary solution. Cells offered in commercial marketplaces are often larger, with a charge capacity of up to 500 amp hours. They can cool slower and retain a temperature of 350 degrees Celsius, a necessity that can be deployed.

  • Redox-flow Batteries

Redox-flow batteries have a distinct advantage compared to standard batteries. They generally operate at much higher rated power (kW) because the system’s rating is based on the power output of the cell stack, and the battery capacity is separately selected based on the level and volume of the electrolyte tank. 

This allows almost any combination of the agreement for energy and power. They have a low energy density compared with virtually any other alternative, and they are typically engineered in a rectangular shape or the space required for an individual gadget or system. 

However, low-density batteries will not likely hinder the success of almost all future projects.

  • Earth Battery

This cutting-edge technology is still in the experimental phase and may also help to store carbon. In this case, carbon dioxide emitted from a power plant is inserted into underground caverns and brought up to several atmospheres of pressure. 

Industry experts then cycle the liquid through an energy-producing turbine, removing some of the carbon dioxides and storing it in carbonate rocks under the ground.


  • Why are lithium-ion batteries not used for long term storage?

Li-ion batteries are increasingly useful for short-term needs but cannot store energy on a long-lasting basis. They can generally supply energy for four to five hours, following closely behind. To some extent, flow batteries can release energy for 1.5 to 2 hours.

  • How long will lithium-ion batteries last in storage?

Lithium-ion batteries lose power at an annualized rate of 2% to 5%. According to this, they can last from 5 to 6 years. 

  • How efficient are grid scale batteries?

Contemporary battery technology generally utilizes lithium-ion power supplies that attain efficiencies at around 80 percent and above. Devices that run at peak efficiency with battery-adaptable converters can be integrated into the general power system or plugged into a renewable power supply.

Final Words

So, why Li-ion batteries aren’t used for grid-scale energy storage? As far as we can see, the major constraints behind using Li-ion batteries in grid-scale energy storage systems are higher cost, short lifespan, and lack of in-depth research.

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