Flow batteries offer performance, safety, and cost advantages over Li-ion batteries for large-scale stationary applications. An innovative hybrid flow battery design could help challenge Li-ion market dominance and enable massive renewable-energy penetration.
Renewable energy is one of the most powerful tools in the fight against climate change. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has set a goal to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Meeting this goal, however, will require increasing the share of renewable electricity generation to 63–81% by 2050 (under various climate mitigation scenarios) (1).
Wind and solar have experienced remarkable growth in the past decade due to favorable government policies, such as renewable portfolio standards, and a dramatic reduction in technology costs. Driven by technology and manufacturing improvements, the price of solar photovoltaics (PV) has dropped 89% since 2010 and is expected to decline another 34% by 2030 (2). Because of the falling prices of renewable generation, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that electricity generation from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, will surpass nuclear and coal by 2021 and become the leading source of electricity in the U.S. by 2045 (3).
The centralized electric grid architecture will need to adapt to integrate these technologies. The variability in daily and seasonal electricity generation from renewables and the distributed nature of solar and wind installations are major factors to be considered. Energy storage will play a vital role in enabling 24/7 availability of renewable energy and a stable electric grid.
To increase the use of renewable energy sources, it is critical to find safe and economical methods to store solar and wind energy for use after the sun sets and when the wind is not blowing.
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