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‘World-first’ grid-scale sodium-ion battery project in China launched


Update 8 August 2023: This article was amended post-publication after Great Power clarified to that the project has not yet entered commercial operation.

A battery energy storage system (BESS) project using sodium-ion technology has been launched in Qingdao, China.

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The demonstration project of 5MW/10MWh was officialised last month (14 July) in a definitive agreement between project partners Great Power, a battery technology company, Qingdao Beian Holdings and Noan Technology Co.

It is located in Qingdao North Coast Data Center (QNCDC), in the northeastern town, though the initial announcement contained some ambiguity over whether the project was being launched or had already been brought online.

It is the first application of sodium-ion batteries in new energy storage and new infrastructure of big data centers, the companies claimed. It will improve QNCDC’s energy efficiency and support the further construction of more green data centre infrastructure.

Technology provider Great Power has been developing its sodium-ion technology for three years, describing it as a “a combined strategy of layered oxide and polyanion systems”, achieving “multiple technology innovations and breakthroughs.”

The released added: “In the polyanion systems, a highly stable system has been constructed through material innovation, breaking through the core pain points of low energy density and revolutionising the life of sodium-ion batteries to over 6000 cycles. For the layered oxide system, a high-voltage system has been developed to increase the energy density to 150Wh/kg, with a cycle life reaching up to 3000 cycles.”

As well as reducing the energy costs of the data centre, the project will also participate in ancillary services to help the power grid’s reliability and stability.

Sodium-ion battery technology is regarded by some as most commercially advanced non-lithium battery tech. One year ago this week, Max Reid, research analyst in Wood Mackenzie’s Battery & Raw Materials Service segment, told he estimated there would be around 1GWh of global annual production capacity this year rising to 5-10GWh by 2025.

Great Power Head Yang Xi and President Evan Bierman commented: “In this critical period of energy transformation, promoting the research and development of sodium-ion energy storage technology has a great driving significance for our future energy reform. Compared with the regional distribution of lithium, sodium is abundant and lower cost, it has better safety characteristics, a wider operating temperature range, and is extremely compatible with large energy storage projects and economy-class EVs. Great Power believes that sodium-ion will be a long-term solution for the storage market.”

What was claimed to be the world’s first sodium-ion gigafactory was opened in China in December 2022, by state-owned power company China Three Gorges Corporation.

See all our recent coverage of the sodium-ion battery space here, including a fundraise by Sweden-based Altris, a 100MWh sodium solid state battery factory in Germany and United Airlines investing in technology provider Natron Energy.

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