China Reaches New Heights In Energy Storage Technology

At an energy storage station in eastern Chinese city of Nanjing, a total of 88 white battery cartridges with a storage capacity of nearly 200,000 kilowatt-hours are transmitting electricity to the city’s grid.

“It is equivalent to a medium-sized power plant, and the electricity it generates in one hour can meet the power consumption of 26,000 households in one day,” said Shi Shengdong, a local manager of the grid.

The grid-scale storage station in Nanjing is an epitome of China’s prospering energy storage industry as the country has put the emerging industry on a pedestal.

The energy storage facilities serve to iron out electric use volatility in peaks and troughs and, more importantly, facilitate the utilization of the country’s growing clean energy amid its efforts to pursue low-carbon development.

The energy storage power plants help improve the utilization rate of wind power, solar and other renewable sources, thus promoting the proportion of new energy consumption.

In the first half of 2023, China’s installed renewable energy capacity surpassed coal power for the first time in history.

Meanwhile, batteries that store energy are being preserved to ensure that the electricity produced from those intermittent sources is available and ready to use when needed.

The country’s installed new-type energy storage capacity had reached 31.39 gigawatts by the end of 2023, of which 22.6 gigawatts was newly installed in that year alone, which was nearly 10 times that at the end of 2020, according to the National Energy Administration (NEA).

The rapid growth is guaranteed by China’s strong battery manufacturing capability. Last year, a new energy power and energy storage battery manufacturing base with an annual production capacity of 30 GWh, constructed by China’s battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Ltd. (CATL), went into operations in Guizhou Province.

By 2025, Guizhou aims to develop itself into an important research and development and production center for new energy power batteries and materials.

Recently, China saw a diversifying new energy storage know-hows. Lithium-ion batteries accounted for 97.4 percent of China’s new-type energy storage capacity at the end of 2023.

Aside from the lithium-ion battery, which is a dominant type, the technical routes such as compressed air, liquid flow battery and flywheel storage are being developed rapidly.

Since 2023, a number of 300-megawatts-grade compressed air energy storage projects along with 100-megawatts-grade liquid flow battery projects begun construction. The new technologies including gravity storage, liquid air storage, carbon dioxide storage have been developed as well, according to the NEA.

Also, some provincial-level regions launched a new business model to rev up the energy storage industry, allowing the energy storage investors to collect capacity rental fees from users using the grid.

Last year, Guangxi completed its first trading transaction during peak electricity consumption in a grid that covers south and southwest China’s Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan, Guizhou and Hainan.

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