ArcActive targets Australia with ‘re-engineered’ lead-acid battery tech

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From pv magazine Australia

ArcActive claims to have delivered one of the biggest leaps forward in lead-acid battery engineering in more than 140 years. It is now targeting Australia for its first major manufacturing facility as it looks to take advantage of the nation's surging residential solar and battery energy storage market.

“This is where the market is, where plenty of the supply chain is, and where the capital is likely to come from – so it makes sense to put production there,” said ArcActive Chief Executive Stuart McKenzie.

Christchurch-headquartered ArcActive said it has developed technology that has allowed it to re-engineer the negative electrode of the lead-acid battery to remove the lead grid and replace it with a non-woven carbon fiber fabric into which the lead active material is inserted.

McKenzie said the carbon fiber plate design gives the firm’s 20 kWh EnergyBank battery energy storage system – which includes an array of eight separate ArcStore batteries – 15 kWh of usable energy with more than 4,000 cycles for half the price of lithium-ion based chemistries. The base system has an inverter rated at 5 kW, but McKenzie said this could run up to 10 kW.

ArcActive said its “new product is set to dramatically disrupt the sector and make energy storage more accessible … with the potential for widespread adoption across residential, commercial and industrial settings.” It added that the EnergyStore battery system – including inverter, battery management system, and cabling – is priced at AUD 4,900 ($3,140), or AUD 6,995 installed.

“This is approximately half of an equivalent sized system, so allows for a five-year payback which should allow wide-scale adoption,” said McKenzie.

ArcActive plans to launch a AUD 65 million institutional capital raise in the coming weeks, with the funds to be used to build a production facility in either Queensland or Victoria.

Once the funding round is closed, ArcActive said it expects that it will take about 18 months to get the first production line operational, with the facility set to generate about 70 jobs.

Lithium-ion batteries currently dominate the energy storage market, but ArcActive said its lead-based technology has shown “excellent performance at partial state-of-charge – a key technical requirement for both automotive and energy storage applications.”

McKenzie said lead-acid battery technology also has the advantage of zero fire risk, and a sustainability advantage in that the batteries are “fully recyclable today because the economic cost of recycled lead is known.”

The company said the ArcStore battery that is used in the EnergyBank system will be a general battery system, but storing energy generated by residential solar is seen as its primary market.

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