The Arizona-based technology company NantEnergy has unveiled a new rechargeable battery that operates on zinc and air and costs significantly less than the lithium-ion batteries currently powering the world’s electric cars and renewable energy systems, the New York Times reported.
NantEnergy claims the new zinc-air battery costs less than $100 per kilowatt-hour, compared to the $190 per kWh cost of Tesla’s Model 3 battery pack and $205 per kWh for General Motors’ 2017 Chevrolet Bolt battery. That’s low enough “to transform the electric grid into a round-the-clock carbon-free system,” experts told the New York Times.
The zinc-air technology, developed with funding from the World Bank and the U.S. Department of Energy, has been tested at thousands of sites in the last six years, providing the sole source of power to more than 200,000 people in Asia and Africa and used at more than 1,000 cellphone towers in the United States, Mexico, Southeast Asia, and Central and Latin America. It can provide power for up to 72 hours on a single charge.
Developing more affordable, longer-lasting battery storage has been a major hurdle to the large-scale deployment of renewable energy. To date, cheap natural gas has helped fill gaps in the power supply when wind and solar installations are not producing enough electricity.
“This is a game changer,” Yogi Goswami, director of the Clean Energy Center at the University of South Florida, told the Times. “You have to have storage.”