What is it about?

With increasing deployment of renewable energies, there is a renewed interest within the industry, R&D institutions and academia alike to develop and deploy advanced environmentally friendly batteries for stationary applications. We compare four promising battery technologies - lead-acid, lithium-ion, sodium−sulfur and vanadium-redox-flow for near future stationary applications from an environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) perspective.

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Why is it important?

Our findings show that the use stage of batteries dominates their life cycle impacts significantly. It is therefore misleading to compare the environmental performance of batteries at the manufacturing outlet (“cradle-to-gate analyses”) while neglecting their use stage impacts, especially when they have different characteristic parameters. Based on the results obtained, we recommend the deployment of batteries with higher round-trip efficiency, such as lithium-ion, for stationary grid operation in the first instance.

Perspectives

I hope this article motivates researchers and policy makers to account for "use phase" impacts when comparing different battery technologies because environmental burdens are function of overall impacts arising from batteries as well as their associated power sources (battery systems), but not just the battery technologies.

Mitavachan Hiremath
Center for Sustainability, Policy & Technology Management (SusPoT)

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This page is a summary of: Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Battery Storage Systems for Stationary Applications, Environmental Science & Technology, April 2015, American Chemical Society (ACS), DOI: 10.1021/es504572q.
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