Green Power Brains is founding member of the West African Salt Battery Association (WASBA) together several companies and organisations including the Swiss-Cameroonian company African Solar Generation (ASG), the Antenna Foundation, FZSonick and Innovenergy.
In West Africa, access to electricity is key to creating new jobs, improving health care and many other vital services. To protect the climate, it is crucial for electricity to be generated from renewable energy sources. In West Africa, the grid infrastructure is poorly developed, especially in rural areas. PV installations are often designed from the outset as so-called off-grid/stand-alone systems. These are systems that consist of PV modules, power electronics and an electricity storage system. The latter must hold enough electricity for times when no electricity is produced, i.e. at night or during days with heavy cloud cover. Hence, the demand for electricity storage, especially in combination with PV installations, will grow strongly. In addition, there are other trends, such as the shift to e-mobility, which will lead to higher demand for lithium batteries. Today, installers of PV systems rely either on lead or lithium batteries. Both battery types are problematic in many respects. This starts with the mining of the necessary raw materials (exploitation in cobalt mines, environmental pollution during lithium production, etc.) and extends to the incorrect disposal of the battery components, some of which are highly toxic. In addition, lithium batteries in particular will become increasingly difficult to obtain in the future.
An alternative is represented by salt batteries: these are batteries based on Sodium and Nickel, operating at temperatures of 260 °C and above. Compared to currently widespread lead acid or lithium-ion batteries, salt batteries have various advantages: they do not contain neither rare not hazardous materials, are very suitable for full scale recycling, from the operational safety aspect they are very safe and cannot catch fire or explode in any circumstance, even when exposed to fire themselves. Furthermore, as they operate at temperatures above ambient temperature, they do not require cooling and are suitable to very hot regions. Salt batteries are very easy to be serviced and repaired on site, bringing the advantage of creating local jobs while saving costs and CO2 emissions for transportation. They are therefore particularly suitable for PV installations in rural areas. The ultimate beneficiaries are all those who benefit from a mini-grid (with salt batteries). Compared to other currently used batteries, the CO2 impact of salt batteries is up to 70% lower than li-ion batteries, and an up to 93% lower, compared to lead-acid batteries.
The aim of WASBA is to foster the integration of salt batteries into energy infrastructures in Africa. Please contact us at email@example.com if you are interested in our activities!