Sodium ion
Sodium Ion Battery

Is Sodium Ion Battery Storage The Next Big Thing In Solar?

Batteries are becoming the main component of residential solar installations. They are essential if you are looking to store energy for utilize in the event that the sun doesn't shine or in the event of power failures. If you're on an off-grid setup the battery will be the lifeline to your home.

The moment is when lithium Ion (Li-ion) has become the best choice for solar batteries since this type of battery is highly reliable and is available in top battery storage solutions such as those like the Tesla PowerwallGenerac PWRcell along with LG Chem.

However because of shortages in supply chain logistics and cost increases for lithium, many companies are turning to more advanced battery technologies to store solar energy. One of these batteries is sodium Ion. As opposed to lithium ion this kind of battery makes use of the most inexpensive and abundant material sodium.

Are sodium Ion (Na-ion) batteries be able to take over lithium Ion batteries in the new energy storage market? Is sodium ion an option that is long-term and sustainable for solar energy systems? Let's learn.

What is a sodium ion battery?

A sodium ion battery utilizes sodium as a charge-carrier. They have an inner design of sodium Ion batteries is similar with lithium-ion battery that's why they're often compared against one another. They can be recharged as lithium ion, lead acid as well as absorption glass mat (AGM) batteries.

The development of sodium ion batteries goes from the 1980's and is now picking up because of the challenges associated with the expansion of lithium ion batteries such as rising costs for materials and the requirement to acquire massive quantities of lithium to ensure batteries and supply.

There is a lot of research on the optimization of Na-ion batteries, with a focus in relation to the use of Prussian blue as cathode material. The Na-ion battery is designed to be able of taking various designs, from cylindrical ones and rectangular bags. The various shapes make them ideal for commercialization, which allows this type of battery to be utilized to store energy as well as electric vehicles and portable devices.

Battery based on sodium ion in comparison to. lithium ion battery technology

Battery
lithium ion battery technology

Let's look at sodium ion batteries to two kinds of lithium Ion batteries such as nickel manganese and cobalt (NMC) and lithium iron phosphate (LFP).

These lithium-ion batteries are among the most popular kinds of solar energy devices that are used for residential photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Table 1. Sodium ion vs. NMC vs. LFP batteries

Sodium ionNMCLFP
AvailabilityStill under developmentWidely availableWidely available
CostCheapestCheaperMost expensive
Energy densityLowestHighestModerate
SafetySafestLeast safeSafer than NMC
Round-trip efficiency92%90-95%92-98%
Sodium ion vs. NMC vs. LFP batteries

Efficiency and energy density

They possess the lowest density of energy of all the batteries, which implies that they consume larger space than lithium Ion batteries. NMC battery have the most energy density.

A 10 Kilowatt-hour (kWh) lithium Ion battery takes less space in the home that a sodium ion battery with the same capacity could however, they both have the similar capacity. This can be a problem when you are limited in space in your home however, as Na-ion batteries are in the process of being developed, this might alter in the near future.

Three battery technologies provide greater than 90% round-trip efficiency. That means the battery work in reducing losses in energy, making it possible for more power generated by solar panels to be stored instead of being wasted during the process of storage.

Batteries that have high round-trip efficiency can continuously supply power to appliances and other devices for long durations. LFP batteries have slightly greater efficiency for round trips as compared to NMC or Na-ion batteries. The differences are tiny and only evident when solar panels are large-scale.

Safety

The solid-state sodium Ion battery is less dangerous than Li-ion batteries since they are not flammable and are able to operate even at temperatures that are extremely high. While stable lithium batteries are, they are vulnerable to burning when not properly charged, used or stored.

Recently it was reported that the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) issued a statement regarding the dangers of fire from lithium ion batteries in light of numerous incidents that involved lithium ion batteries getting caught on fire. However, these incidents are not common and shouldn't hinder you from buying lithium ion batteries to use for solar energy storage at home.

However, LFP is safer than NMC since it can be able to withstand higher operating temperatures and also handle more energy. As opposed with sodium-ion battery lithium Ion batteries have been tested extensive and are backed by a long-lasting history for solar power.

Cost

Cost is one of the major factors in the use of batteries and they can add thousand dollars a solar installation.

The sodium ion batteries are expected to be less expensive in comparison to lithium ion batteries since they are made of cheaper materials. Lithium-ion batteries for storage of solar energy generally cost between $7,000 to $14,000 prior to taking into account the Federal solar tax credits depending on the size and type.

Lithium-ion batteries extensively use cobalt and lithium in the process of manufacturing. The cost of lithium is growing due to inflation and the increasing demand for electric vehicles as well as batteries for home energy storage. The rapid need for lithium has resulted in an oversupply and is likely to continue to be a problem over the next few years. The sodium ion batteries don't make use of cobalt, lithium or nickel.

In reality, the issues that come with the acquisition of lithium are driving the development of sodium Ion batteries. Many believe that a new kind of battery must be developed to keep up with the increasing demand to store energy.

Availability

There are sodium ion batteries that are available for purchase, however the majority are in prototype or demo releases. The online purchase of sodium ion batteries can be difficult and require you to submit an official request to the company that manufactures the batteries.

In contrast lithium-ion batteries for solar energy storage are offered by many battery makers around the world. They are the preferred battery technology for consumers as well as top-selling brands or sellers. They are available for purchase on the internet or through the neighborhood solar contractor.

Companies developing sodium ion batteries

There are many businesses that are trying to create and market sodium Ion batteries. A lot of these companies have prototypes in place and are near getting Na-ion batteries available to consumers in the mainstream.

Bluetti

Sodium ion
Bluetti

Bluetti produces solar panels along with LFP batteries designed for use on the go as well as home battery backup.

Based in Nevada The company recently introduced a sodium ion solar generator. The generator has a capacity of 3000 watt-hour (Wh) capacity and can be expanded to meet high capacities. The achievement that Bluetti could launch the first sodium ion battery for solar is an impressive accomplishment. Keep an eye on the firm for the best sodium Ion batteries for solar in the near future.

Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL)

CATL is a world-wide battery manufacturer, and has greater than 30 percent of the market for lithium-ion batteries that are used in electric automobiles.

Based in China the company is currently creating its first sodium Ion battery line. It's focusing its efforts on improving capacity of energy in the batteries which will allow for the expansion of possibilities and applications.

CATL is a major actor in the rapidly developing sodium ion battery market because it is able to scale production quickly because of its vast capacity of operation, made up of over 33,000 employees (as as of 2020)

Natron Energy

Natron Energy provides a small sodium ion battery that is designed for specific needs, such as telecoms, data centers and rack-mounting applications.

This battery is in compliance to Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety standards that is among the difficulties in bringing the battery into the mainstream market. The Na-ion battery has a longer cycle time and has the capacity to deliver more energy than lead acid batteries.

While it is available for purchase, this fast-charge battery will not be sufficient to power solar panels at home.

AMTE Power

AMTE Power manufactures and develops batteries that are suitable for industrial use. AMTE Power is planning to launch an sodium ion battery to use to store electrochemical energy and transportation, which will be available in Q3 2022. It has partnered with Faradion which is a sodium ion battery manufacturer to enhance its manufacturing as well as sales.

The battery manufactured by the company is slim and takes form of a rectangular pouch. It's a low-power battery and isn't suitable for installation in homes yet.

The sodium batteries are a promising solution which is still in development

Sodium ion
The sodium batteries

The sodium ion batteries are the next generation of options for the widely-used solar industry for residential use.

Many consider it an option to expand energy storage because when compared with lithium Ion technology, it utilizes many of the same materials and is sustainable. The low cost of production in sodium Ion batteries can help in the deployment of product. However, this kind of battery is still in the beginning stage of production and development.

These batteries, in the form of paper are able to offer a number of advantages over the existing lead acid and lithium batteries, particularly in terms of the sustainability aspect. However, these traditional batteries have been tested and proven to work with a long experience and a track evidence of their reliability in actual-world applications. We believe that this is the key element and is what's missing in sodium Ion batteries.

If sodium Ion batteries are shown to be an option for traditional solar batteries in the long run, it will be much more straightforward to suggest them for home solar panels – however, only time will prove that. What can you do to determine whether sodium ion batteries will be suitable to be used in solar panels? It is obvious when that it is the best time to buy them if:

  • Local solar installation companies start with offering or recommending them
  • It is easy to purchase items on the internet.

The sodium ion batteries, so far, appear to be in the correct path to be a viable alternative to conventional batteries in the future. however for the time being it's fine choosing the current lithium ion batteries to power your solar system.


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Thomas Harder

Is an environmental and renewable energy specialist with over 10 years of expertise within the renewable and solar industry. With over a decade of experience in various organizations within the field He runs Mysolarperks as a passion-driven project that promotes sustainable renewable energy ideas and products.
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