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Which is the best choice for energy storage battery?


The technical route dispute between lithium iron phosphate and ternary battery has never stopped.According to foreign media reports, more and more energy storage suppliers are focusing on China's lithium iron phosphate batteries due to the tight production and sales of ternary batteries. Moreover, the energy storage supplier said that at present, the lithium iron phosphate route is the right choice, considering the performance and application market revenue of lithium iron phosphate.


Recently, the supply of Ni Mn co ternary battery is in short supply, and the change of energy storage market economy has led to the change of lithium-ion battery technology route. Energy storage developers began to turn to more durable lithium iron phosphate battery, which may highlight China's position in the global energy storage market. The demand surge leads to a shortage of NMC ternary batteries, which provides LFP with an opportunity to increase its market share.


"At present, the supply of ternary battery is tight, which opens the door for the market application of lithium iron phosphate battery. Energy storage suppliers are more and more interested in the application of lithium iron phosphate energy and power performance."


——Mitalee GuptaWood Mackenzie, Power & energy storage analyst of renewable energy.


In the short term, the shortage of ternary battery may slow down the downward trend of battery price. Data display of wood Mackenzie. Between 2015 and 2016, the market price of lithium-ion batteries dropped by more than 20% annually, and by nearly 15% in 2017. The research company also forecasts that prices will continue to fall by 14% in 2018. However, according to the latest energy storage monitoring data, the price drop in the last quarter has "slowed down significantly".


"At present, there are not enough battery manufacturing plants, and all capacity has been reserved."


——Mitalee GuptaWood Mackenzie, Power & energy storage analyst of renewable energy.


The choice of energy storage battery route


Lithium ion batteries dominate the energy storage market, but there are many kinds of batteries and their positions are different. Generally, there are about six kinds of lithium-ion materials, each of which has its own subcategory, advantages and disadvantages.


It is different for lithium iron phosphate battery, which is usually used in electric tools and industrial fields. Since 2015, they have been widely used in electric vehicles. "At present, the supply of lithium iron phosphate batteries is mainly from suppliers in China, which are used for electric buses and electric trucks," Gupta said.


As battery manufacturers speed up production and new battery manufacturing plants come online in the next few quarters, the shortage of ternary batteries will be solved. And the battery price will continue to decline with the large-scale operation of suppliers. At the same time, the manufacturing capacity of lithium iron phosphate will continue to grow, and the supply period of ternary battery will be extended to June or even September, further promoting the price drop. This will stimulate the application of lithium iron phosphate in user side energy storage projects.


The rise of China's battery manufacturing industry


Gupta believes that the direct impact of this transformation of battery materials is that Chinese enterprises have successfully attracted the attention of American energy storage suppliers.


In the past, most lithium-ion batteries were made by Japanese or Korean giants, such as Panasonic or LG. Now, Chinese suppliers can compete with them in terms of products and advanced manufacturing facilities. China's battery manufacturing capacity is increasing significantly, with a target of 121 GWH by 2020, according to Bloomberg. Even next year, the target for Tesla super plants to reach full capacity is only 35 GWH.


BYD, the Chinese battery manufacturer, is the largest producer of lithium iron phosphate for grid side energy storage projects and electric buses, but now system integrators are also seeking lithium iron phosphate batteries from several other Chinese suppliers. Catl plans to expand its capacity by five times, and is expected to catch up with Tesla and BYD to become a new battery manufacturing leader in the future.


Powin energy is one of the suppliers looking for batteries in China. According to the previous report, the company successfully completed the transformation from project developer to energy storage system service provider at the end of last year. Geoff brown, President of the company, said that the company has signed a series of energy storage projects applying lithium iron phosphate, which will make powin enter 2019 with a strong momentum, while competitors still face a serious shortage of energy storage materials. "We have benefited from the transformation from ternary battery to lithium iron phosphate battery, and gained high profits."


Some large three-way battery manufacturers are looking for companies willing to pay high prices for higher performance, such as energy density and battery life, in order to make more profits. The energy density of NMC battery is usually higher than that of lithium iron phosphate battery, but it is not so important in energy storage applications. Brown said he saw more and more developers start to look at lithium iron phosphate batteries and enter Chinese companies directly. But some manufacturers don't have that flexibility. 


Safe and stable technical route


Lithium iron phosphate can work in a deeper discharge cycle and withstand a higher level of continuous voltage, Brown said he would like to compromise the energy density for this more stable feature of lithium iron phosphate battery. The ternary battery is very sensitive to full charge and discharge, which often affects the battery life. In contrast, lithium iron phosphate is more resistant to the full discharge cycle depth, so it usually has a longer cycle life.


The energy storage facilities serving the peak shaving power market need to be cycled 50 or 60 times a year, which is quite different from the frequency modulation market or photovoltaic market, because photovoltaic cells may experience a complete cycle every day. Fixed energy storage application is not the most concerned about high cycle, but in peak regulation capacity. All in all, Brown insisted that "there is no best storage battery."


"The perfect energy storage system has not been built."


——Geoff BrownPowin,president of energy company


Brown said the main reason powin chose the lithium iron phosphate battery was because of its safety. Lithium iron phosphate batteries are generally more heat-resistant than ternary batteries. The application of lithium iron phosphate can reduce the cost of other aspects, such as heat control and safety measures.


"As the business grows, we decide to take a conservative and robust approach," Brown said. The choice of technical route is the result of market price and application cases, and the same battery is different for electric vehicles and energy storage, and different batteries are different for fixed energy storage applications. "


Brown firmly believes that "at present, the lithium iron phosphate route is the right choice," but it's not surprising if we have three-way battery products within 18 months.


"The perfect energy storage system has not been built," Brown said. "If we continue to reduce costs, developers may find the best option to market in the future."

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