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UK research shows batteries could boost solar PV efficiency

Study finds lithium battery has energy efficiency of 95 per cent

Energy storage technology can increase the efficiency of solar
Energy storage technology can increase the efficiency of solar

Using lithium batteries as energy storage alongside solar PV could make solar cheaper and more efficient, according to a joint research project carried out by the University of Southampton and UK lithium battery firm REAPSystems. Researchers found that a lithium battery has an energy efficiency of 95 per cent, compared to the 85 per cent efficiency of a traditional lead-acid battery, currently the most common energy storage used for solar PV.

The research team connected a lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery to a photovoltaic system attached to one of the university’s buildings, using a specifically designed battery management system.

Yue Wu, the MSc student leading the research, said: “As an energy storage device, lithium batteries, especially the LiFePO4 batteries we used, have more favourable characteristics [than lead-acid batteries]. The weight of the lithium batteries is lower and they have a longer life span than the lead-acid batteries, reaching up to 1,600 charge/discharge cycles, meaning they would need to be replaced less frequently.”

The team now plans to test the battery further, before it is applied to a commercial PV system to assess how it can improve efficiency and reduce costs and upkeep.