As the renewable energy sector is moving its way up, new technology called Supercapacitor for energy storage is also becoming the talk of industries. Manufacturers of battery-based energy storage systems are suggesting that if solar industry took advantage of supercapacitors, it would become easier to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.
Omer Ghani, CEO and co-founder, Kilowatt Labs, which produces supercapacitor-based energy storage called Sirius Energy Storage and the Centauri Energy Server, designed to manage distributed energy stated,
“I think the transition toward a lower greenhouse gas number from the utility industry is the micro-grid way. The real way to provide deep penetrations of renewable energy, especially on rooftops, is at the customers’ sites with non-wires alternatives.”
Mr. Ghani further suggested that utilities would earn revenue from the systems comprising both rooftop or other forms of onsite solar equipped with supercapacitor-based energy storage, plus a unique energy server that would manage the solar plus storage. In essence, each home would have its own microgrid.
Kilowatt Labs now has a number of systems up and running, and has shipped 1.5 MWh of its storage devices through a network of global distributors, says Ghani. The company was granted a request to add supercapacitor-based energy storage as a storage option under California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program. And the company is developing a microgrid for a mine in South Africa that’s located at a 3,000-meter elevation and has power reliability challenges.
Chemical batteries have restrictions on how much they can be discharged, and limited life cycles, which makes it hard for utilities to consider them as long-term assets on customer sites. Supercapacitor-based energy storage, on the other hand, is much simpler. This technology stores energy on the surface of the electrolyte, which means there is no chemical reaction. “Electrical energy comes in and is stored as electrical energy. It releases electrical energy back into electricity when discharged,” Ghani explained.
The supercapacitor-based storage boasts a cycle life of 1 million cycles, as opposed to battery cycle life of 4,000 to 5,000 cycles. Ghani further said,
“Our supercapacitor-based storage has no chemical reaction for storage, and extremely high round-trip efficiency, which stays the same throughout the cycle life; there’s nothing to degrade.”
The cost of the supercapacitor-based storage is slightly higher than the cost of lithium ion on a per-kWh basis. Kilowatt Labs is also offering energy server which is a power electronics platform — hardware that has software built into it.