Innovative redox-flow batteries made in Germany could help China achieve its ambitious goal of expanding renewable energy in an environmentally friendly, secure and cost-effective way.
An estimated 100 Chinese cities with over a million inhabitants are expanding rapidly. They require large amounts of affordable and environmentally friendly energy. China aims for non-fossil fuels to account for about 20 percent of total energy consumption by 2030 and wants to achieve this target through a fundamental change of its energy-supply system. At the same time, green “smart cities” are booming and using smart management systems to achieve maximum energy efficiency.
However, the question still has not been answered of how energy from renewable sources can be stored temporarily and sustainably as non-fossil fuels are by nature intermittent and sometimes very abundant.
Achieving ambitious goals through sustainable action
China relies primarily on conventional lithium-ion batteries which have an inherent fire risk and can therefore only be used in densely populated areas if expensive safety measures are applied. China aims to further expand its leading edge in the area of lithium-ion-powered batteries and install an annual production capacity of 120 GWh.
The USCC initiative for Urban Solutions for Connected Cities, a collaborative project involving the Friedrich Schiller University Jena and other partners such as JenaBatteries GmbH, has developed innovative redox-flow batteries that offer an environmentally friendly high-performance alternative and can help China achieve its ambitious goals in a sustainable way. Organic redox-flow batteries are based on a system where active materials are dissolved in a saline solution which enables them to provide energy from renewable sources around the clock. They offer the advantage of being non-flammable and non-explosive and do not require the extraction of rare earth metals. JenaBatteries GmbH is currently bringing this secure and cost-effective storage technology into production.
A win-win situation
China is an important market for the USCC initiative in its efforts to promote this innovative and sustainable technology at the international level. China offers not only mass production manufacturers with excellent capacities and a large market but also a growing creative innovation landscape.
The researchers and entrepreneurs involved in the USCC initiative have had successful first talks with potential Chinese cooperation partners at a number of trade fairs and events, including the Smart City Dialogue Forum in Guangzhou and the Asia Pacific Smart City Development Forum in Shenzhen. Activities are currently under way to investigate how China’s growing cities can be enabled to use and produce the technologies developed by members of the USCC initiative.
This is a promising step forward towards continued future cooperation with Chinese partners on finding solutions to strengthen energy security and climate action.