by Mitavachan Hiremath, India (PPRE 2012/14)
University of Oldenburg, Germany
There is a renewed interest among industries, R&D institutions and academia alike to develop and deploy better batteries in the electricity market. Therefore, more information on the environmental performance of the available battery technologies is needed at this hour, so as to make sure that the battery technologies that are going to be deployed in the near future are really the sustainable ones. This paper presents a comparative life cycle assessment of cumulative energy demand (CED) and global warming potential (GWP) of four promising stationary battery technologies: lithium-ion, lead-acid, sodium-sulfur and vanadium-redox-flow. The analyses were carried out for a complete utilization of their cycle life and for six different stationary applications. It was found that in general the use stage of batteries dominates their life cycle impacts significantly. It is therefore misleading to compare the environmental performance of batteries only on a mass or capacity basis at the manufacturing outlet (cradle-to-gate analyses) while neglecting their use stage impacts, especially when they have different characteristic parameters. Furthermore, the relative ranking of batteries does not show a significant dependency on the investigated stationary application scenarios in most cases. Based on the results obtained, the authors go on to recommend the deployment of batteries with higher round trip efficiency, such as lithium-ion, for stationary grid operation in the first instance.