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Solar Battery Lab

ARENA Funded Lithium-Ion Battery Trial

ITP Renewables (ITP) is testing the performance of residential and commercial scale, solar battery packs in a purpose-built climate-controlled enclosure at the Canberra Institute of Technology. The aim of the testing is to independently verify battery performance (capacity fade and round-trip efficiency) against manufacturers’ claims.

Supported by a generous $870k grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), this solar storage project is analysing the performance of 18 leading solar batteries. The trial compares major lithium-ion battery brands to existing and advanced lead-acid battery technologies, as well as novel a zinc-bromide flow battery and an aqueous hybrid ion solar storage battery.

ITP exposes battery packs to ‘summer’ and ‘winter’ temperature regimes and three charge/discharge cycles per day. Capacity fade and round-trip efficiency is analysed and reported, alongside general observations from procurement, installation, commissioning and operation.

Six lithium-ion, one conventional lead-acid, and one advanced lead-acid battery packs were installed during Phase 1 of the trial, which commenced in August 2016. The trial was subsequently expanded to include an additional eight lithium-ion packs, a zinc bromide flow battery, and an Aquion “saltwater” battery bank. Phase 2 commenced in July 2017.

The project commenced in 2015 and is ongoing until 2020. The purpose of the project is to verify claims made by manufacturers about performance, integration, and installation of battery packs, and to disseminate the results to the public. To achieve this ITP is independently testing the performance of each battery side by side in hot daytime and cool overnight temperatures, similar to what they would be expected to face in real-world conditions.

As the solar batteries are cycled they lose the ability to store as much energy as when they were new. The key objective of the three year test is therefore to measure the batteries’ decrease in storage capacity over time and with energy throughput. The project seeks to provide independent performance data so people can make informed investment decisions. The project work includes:

  • testing the batteries by cycling (charging and discharging) several times per day, albeit within the manufacturers’ specifications, in order to produce informative test results within three years.
  • designing and building a battery test centre at the Sustainable Skills Training Hub at the Canberra Institute of Technology.
  • publishing detailed comparative analysis of the test results every six months describing the technical performance and cost-effectiveness of each battery type/brand.

Relevant Links:

Muriel Watt and Josh Jordan will be presenting more about the project on Wednesday 17 July 2019 at Solar Social in Byron Bay. To register your attendance CLICK HERE!

More details about the trial and live results are published here.

A virtual tour of the lab can be accessed here.


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