“When the sun isn’t shining and the breeze isn’t blowing, we need high-quality storage solutions that don’t cost the Earth and are easily accessible on a local or regional level,” stated Dr. Zhoa, adding, “Storage solutions that are manufactured using plentiful resources like sodium – which can be processed from sea water – also have the potential to guarantee greater energy security more broadly and allow more countries to join the shift towards decarbonization.”
Designed specifically as a solution for large-scale renewable energy storage systems, the sodium-sulphur battery uses a pyrolysis process with carbon-based electrodes, which serve to improve the reactivity of sulphur. The research team is now looking at methods to scale the battery technology for commercialization as well as for use in the automotive industry.
For Africa, technologies such as this represent a significant opportunity for the continent to amplify its transition to renewable energy resources. Rich with a variety of green energy, most of which remains largely untapped and in need of investment, many countries have introduced ambitious diversification policies that would see renewables take up a much larger share of the energy mix.
While the continent boasts significant lithium deposits, shortages in global markets due to the reliance of the supply chain on Chinese manufacturers continues to limit renewable adoption in Africa. Therefore, while the continent develops its own manufacturing capacities, technologies such as the sodium-sulphur batteries could offer African countries the chance to accelerate the transition to a cleaner energy future while establishing the adequate storage capacity the continent needs to ensure consistent supply.