Next frontier in renewable energy


FOR close to two years, we have witnessed the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic across the globe yet despite the economic uncertainties, energy demand has barely reduced.

Generally, most of the global electricity is generated from fossil fuels. Unfortunately, fossil fuel burning is the main cause of global warming.

Being a signatory country to the Paris Agreement, Malaysia has a commitment to reduce greenhouse gases by 45% by 2030 through the adoption of renewable energy (RE) sources which can slow down and even reverse climate change.

Additionally, the clean energy sector can create economic growth and jobs to propel the nation’s economy and technological development.

Solar energy, which is electricity typically generated from photovoltaic (PV) or solar cell modules, is an RE source that has been gaining a foothold in Malaysia.

While night use is a problem, the solution lies in the adoption of energy storage as a secondary power supply or power backup.

Energy storage systems like batteries are among the key technologies for the decarbonisation of the power and transport sectors.

Due to the intermittent nature of PV outputs, batteries are adopted to complement the energy supply deficit without curtailing PV generation.

Additionally, batteries are essential for supplying power to Electric Vehicles (EV) without producing carbon emissions.

Although compact, the lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery is desirable because it can deliver high power and energy density, and exhibits excellent cycling performance, low self-discharge, and wide temperature operation range.

Widely used in portable electronics, EV, and power systems, the Li-ion battery is composed of an anode, cathode, separator, electrolyte, and current collectors.

During the charging process, Li+ ions in the cathode will move to the anode through the electrolyte-soaked separator. The process is then reversed during the discharge process.

Li-ion batteries with flammable liquid electrolyte can catch fire if they are damaged due to mechanical, electrical or thermal abuse.

In recent years, companies like Toyota, Samsung and QuantumScape have been investing in the development of next-generation battery technology, namely, lithium-metal (Li-metal) batteries. Li-metal batteries have the potential to be the successor to Li-ion batteries. Unlike Li-ion batteries, Li-metal batteries use non-flammable solid electrolyte which eliminates the risk of flammability, while the anode can be made of lithium metal or anode-less.

Last year, QuantumScape showed that its Li-metal batteries could be charged from 0% to 80% in just 15 minutes, and are able to retain 90% of their capacity after more than 1,000 cycles.

It is predicted that Li-metal batteries will be mass-produced in 2024–2025. The potential for increasing the adoption of RE and new energy storage technologies can help in advancing the country’s energy transition and reducing carbon emissions.

There is already considerable research on superconducting magnetic energy storage, flywheel energy storage, supercapacitor, and hydrogen storage systems.

ASSISTANT PROF DR CHONG LEE WAI and ASSOC PROF DR JUN HIENG KIATLee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and ScienceUniversiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR)



DON'T MISS IT

Sept 30 (10am–11.30am)

Future with STEM> A free “Energy Storage as an Option of Complementing Renewable Energy” webinar on the use of energy storage for sustainability and environmental conservation.

> The webinar covers the latest on renewable energy; energy storage systems to complement renewable energy; and energy storage technologies and new generation batteries.

> Platform: Zoom and Facebook Live

> Details: cccd.utar.edu.my/Upcoming-Events.php

> Presented by UTAR Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and Science speakers: Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering Assistant Prof Dr Chong Lee Wai (Speciality: Energy storage system, renewable energy, machine learning); and Department of Mechanical and Material Engineering Assoc Prof Dr Jun Hieng Kiat (Speciality: Materials for solar energy, electrochemical energy storage, renewable energy) Sept 30 (10am–11.30am)

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