Battery storage in developing countries and emerging economies

On 7th March 2019 the Department for International Development (DfID) announced £30 million of new funding to the Transforming Energy Access programme to give more people and companies across Africa access to affordable, clean energy. The initiative supports Goal Seven of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development: to ensure access for everyone in the world to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030.

60% of African businesses say access to reliable power is a constraint on their growth. Power outages cost African countries 1 to 2% of their GDP annually. Currently, 600 million people across the continent have no access to electricity.

£3 million of the new DfID funding will support research into finding new energy storage technologies, such as ways of replacing diesel generators. It will be administered by the Faraday Institution.

To help define what the £3 million will be used to fund, the Faraday Institution has awarded a contract to Vivid Economics to carry out a scoping study to define the market and technological needs and opportunities for battery and other energy storage technologies in developing countries and emerging economies. The project will focus on applications in weak grid and off-grid segments to 2030, with a high-level comparison with the on-grid market. The current technological landscape in low and middle-income countries (particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia) will be investigated in order to define what the future technological needs might be.

“The growth in battery technologies, particularly those used in electric vehicles, is fuelling a rise in electrochemical energy storage, particularly batteries, in a range of other static and dynamic applications,” commented Ian Ellerington, Head of Technology Transfer at the Faraday Institution. “The UK aspires to be a world-leader in the development of new battery technologies in both the automotive and other energy storage sectors. The skills, knowledge and capabilities that will be developed as part of the Faraday Battery Challenge provide opportunities to apply these battery technologies in emerging economies, supporting those countries where the grid has not reached large portions of the population or where existing grid infrastructure is weak. There is, therefore, a need to understand the size and shape of the current markets for energy storage in these countries and the future opportunities that may develop as technologies mature.”

The contract for the scoping study was awarded after an open call for proposals. The study is expected to take three months. It will address the following questions:

• What are the current potential use cases for batteries in developing/emerging countries? These include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Off-grid households – as part of household solar systems and lanterns
2. Off-grid villages/towns – as part of mini-/micro-grids
3. Diesel generator replacement
4. Off-grid electric cooking
5. Stand-alone commercial/industrial/agricultural-processing
6. Off-grid power for critical infrastructure (e.g. clinics, schools)
7. Disaster relief
8. Streetlighting
9. In house grid-connected power storage/backup power
10. Larger scale grid storage/balancing
11. Electric vehicles especially for taxis, buses, motorbikes/boda bodas, tuk tuks etc.

• What is the estimated market potential for each and what is the breakdown between these applications and the geographies considered? The study will use published data to estimate market size, and combines this with interviews to validate and verify the assessment, rather than conduct original electricity system modelling.

• How sensitive are the identified use cases to the eight technical gaps identified by the Faraday Battery Challenge; cost, energy density, power density, safety, 1st life, temperature, predictability, recyclability?

• Electric vehicle uptake is driving down the cost of Li-ion battery chemistries. What new opportunities might this scale and cost reduction offer in static applications in on-grid, weak-grid and off-grid contexts? How might other battery chemistries and technologies, less suited to mobile applications, play a part in these applications? What advantages might these different technologies have over Li-ion?

• What is the current technological landscape for static energy storage in the UK and what can the UK offer in this sector internationally? What technical solutions are currently being implemented? What are the advantages of using the different technologies? What are applications are being served? How do they interact with the grid and what benefit do they afford?

• What are the potential policy, regulatory and safety barriers that may need to be overcome to fully exploit the potential of battery energy storage? Are there, for example, requirements around considerate recycling and disposal of batteries at end of life? How might this affect the market opportunities identified above?

• If the Faraday Institution and DFID, BEIS and UKRI, were to develop a programme targeting energy storage in international weak/off-grid contexts what would be the best vehicle(s) for delivering this programme?

This study will be used as the basis of a stakeholder consultation event with industry and existing Innovate UK grantees, providing market information to the industry. It will also be used as input into the meeting of prospective funders of an international battery energy storage programme that will be held later in 2019, which would define likely follow-up activities. The study is intended to form a basis of business case prepared by the Faraday Institution/UKRI to DFID, BEIS, the Global Challenges Research Fund and other prospective funders.

Any questions on this study should be directed to Andrew Deadman (who is seconded to the Faraday Institution) or Ian Ellerington.

Posted on April 1, 2019 in Blog, Uncategorized

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About the Author

Ian Ellerington joined the Faraday Institution after six years in central government where he worked on designing and implementing innovation programmes in the energy sector. He was responsible for the government’s energy innovation programme in the Department of Energy and Climate Change and continued in the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as Head of Disruptive Energy Technologies and Green Finance Innovation. Ian is an engineer who graduated from University of Cambridge with an M.Eng. in Manufacturing Engineering in 1993 and is now an experienced technical manager who has worked with small, medium and large corporates, academia and government. His early career was spent working on Gas Turbine engines with the Ministry of Defence before moving to project management at QinetiQ where he was responsible for research programme management and delivery of the large test programmes. He left QinetiQ to join Meggitt Defence Systems as UK General Manager where developed, made and operated new technical products and set up and ran a new R&D and manufacturing facility.

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