Zinc-air batteries are game changer for renewable energy

Zinc-air batteries

Zinc-air battery storage for grid-scale renewable energy will store electricity far longer and for way less cost than current batteries. Renewable energy by definition is intermittent. The sun isn’t always out and wind doesn’t blow continually. Thus, grid-scale renewable energy stores power in lithium-ion batteries to use later as needed.

However, lithium-ion batteries can only store for a few hours. Zinc-air batteries from Zinc8 can store power for days. This means renewable energy that uses these batteries can become baseline power – steady, reliable, available 24/7.

Plus the batteries are vastly less toxic, and the zinc is recycled and reused. Wow.

But the firm had largely been under the radar until January this year, when it won the New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) Innovation Challenge, a tender aiming to find innovative eight-hour-plus storage technologies. Zinc8 is now collaborating with NYPA, the largest state utility in the US, on building a 100kW/1MWh (ie, ten-hour) pilot project for a commercial NYPA customer in western New York state by 2022. This will “showcase the long-duration aspect of our battery and also to validate the data so that we can move forward with New York Power Authority on many of their future projects”, Fan explains.

“This is the thing that’s changed our company — going from having some interest, but nobody thinking that zinc-air was ready — to our phones ringing non-stop from big utilities and globally connected companies around the world,” adds MacDonald. “It gave us a level of credibility, of realness with the bigger, broader market that would have taken us a lot of time and a lot of banging on doors [to achieve]”.