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Sodium-ion to store renewable energy in NSW

The commissioning of a renewable energy generation system has been completed, according to a recent report.

It includes 6 kilowatts (kW) of solar panels, a temporary lithium-ion battery pack and an energy management system to maximise energy efficiency.

This installation is a part of the A$ 10.6 million Smart Sodium Storage System Project, which is funded largely by the Australian Renewable Energy Arena (ARENA).

This project is being led by energy storage researchers from the University of Wollongong’s Institute for Semiconducting and Electronic Materials in collaboration with Sydney Water and manufacturing partners in China.

It aims to develop and demonstrate sodium-ion batteries in renewable energy storage applications.

It allows for the creation of a commercialisation pathway, taking the technology from the lab to the industry in order to fast-track the development of low-cost storage for renewable energy.

The Bondi pumping station is among the 780 in the Sydney Water network.

It shows how sodium-ion batteries can be used to store renewable energy and increase system resilience by self-generation, storage and consumption of energy on site.

Because of the daily volume of wastewater it moves, it was chosen as a demonstration site and is being used to prove the technology against highly intermittent and impulse-heavy loads.

Approximately 8,000 kilowatt-hours of energy will be generated by the system each year, which is significantly more than what is required to run the site.

Part of ARENA’s role is to deliver secure and reliable electricity and battery technology will play a major role in allowing variable renewable energy to be distributed.

With the contribution of world-leading researchers from the University, these relatively inexpensive and reliable sodium-ion batteries are not too far off, potentially reducing our reliance on lithium.

The project was translating research outcomes into tangible impacts for society. Reducing dependence on fossil fuels cannot be realised without an efficient storage system.

Sodium-ion batteries are a potential game-changer because the materials are much more abundant than the traditional lithium-ion batteries.

This will reduce the cost of raw materials as well as reduce the reliance on scarce and expensive lithium.

Ultimately, this project will deliver commercial-scale and ready-for-manufacture sodium-ion battery technology that allows lower-cost distributed renewable energy supply to become a reality.

Most people press the flush button without giving the process much of a second thought. Unknown to them, moving wastewater around the 25,000 kilometres of wastewater pipes so that it can be treated, protecting health and the environment, is an energy-intensive process.

By using the new technology of sodium-ion batteries, Sydney Water will be able to achieve increases in renewable energy use, which will improve environmental outcomes and provide downward pressure on costs for the customers.

Lithium-ion batteries will be used for one year to test the energy management system and will later be replaced with the sodium-ion batteries in late 2019.

Development of the sodium-ion battery packs is now in a critical phase, with the first batches of batteries rolling off production lines at industry partner sites in China.


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