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China starts operation of 10 MWh sodium ion batteries

China starts operation of 10 MWh sodium ion batteries

Chinese energy company China Southwestern Power Grid has commissioned what may be the first large-scale battery storage plant based on cost-effective sodium ion technology in Nanning in the Guangxi autonomous region. The system can store 10 MWh of energy.


The system consists of over 22,000 210 Ah sodium ion battery cells. It is supposed to charge 90 percent within twelve minutes, according to a statement from Southwest China Power Grid. However, the 10MWh battery storage is just the first expansion phase. It is part of a comprehensive project that should be able to provide 100 megawatt hours of energy. The entire system will then provide 73 million kWh of green electricity to cover the electricity needs of 35,000 private sector customers. This is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50,000 tons.

Sodium-ion batteries and traditional lithium-ion technology rely largely on the same chemical processes. They store and release energy by reversibly dissolving and combining cations between positive and negative electrodes. The difference lies in the materials used. Raw material reserves for lithium-ion batteries are limited. It is not uncommon for lithium to be extracted in conflict-torn areas of the world. On the other hand, the raw materials used in manufacturing sodium-ion batteries are cheap and easy to obtain.

In addition, sodium-ion batteries are said to have higher performance at lower temperatures and are therefore more suitable for storing larger amounts of energy. However, Nanning's sodium-ion battery storage system cannot do this without technical thermal management: The thermal management system keeps the temperature difference between the 22,000 cells within a temperature range of 3°C. This also made it possible to extend the time during which the cells expand thermally from 30 minutes to two hours, Southwest China Power Grid wrote.

According to China Southwest Power Grid, the cost of sodium-ion batteries can be reduced by about 20 to 30 percent compared to lithium-ion technology when used on a large scale. In addition, there is a reduction in the cost per kilowatt hour of electricity. Here the company expects a reduction to $0.0276 per kilowatt hour.

The battery storage facility in Nanning is part of a Chinese initiative to build new energy storage systems. The total capacity of all previous systems is 35.3 million kilowatt hours. More than 95 percent of them are electrochemical storage devices – including lithium-ion batteries.


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