ILA Blog

Solar power and lead batteries energise the Navajo Nation

Dr Alistair Davidson

In one of the most sun-drenched regions of North America, ALABC member company Crown Battery is helping deliver a sustainable, renewable energy storage solution to residents of the Navajo Nation using advanced lead batteries.
The Navajo Nation in Arizona has many residences without running water or electricity, unemployment rates of 50% and 50-mile drives to get clean water and wood for fuel. Working with numerous groups, including government and corporate sponsors, Crown Battery assisted in a pilot project providing a lead battery energy storage solution to over 40 elders in the area.
(Solar panels delivering sustainable energy to the Navajo Nation)
Extreme temperatures in the desert of Arizona requires an advanced and innovative battery technology to withstand temperatures ranging from 43°C to -34°C. After rigorous testing of various technologies, advanced lead batteries were chosen for the challenge and installed in each multi-purpose ‘green’ residence built by the local community (EMPUS, Enertopia Multi-Purpose Utility Structure).
Each EMPUS unit houses eight to sixteen lead batteries (see full article), facilitating the harnessing of solar power from panels, providing clean energy and the ability to store electricity and regulate variability in a renewable and sustainable way.
This is one of many such projects utilising lead batteries worldwide. Lead batteries currently represent 75% of the rechargeable battery market in terms of stored energy being used in a range of applications, including remote, off-grid communities and in areas facing extreme temperatures. They provide an ideal energy storage option for these types of applications, being reliable, cost-effective and robust in these conditions. In addition, currently over 99% of lead batteries are collected and recycled at end of life in North America, and each new battery can contain up to 80% recycled material, making lead batteries a highly sustainable option for these applications.
The energy storage market has been predicted to grow by up to 20-40% by 2025 (Avicenne, 2018). ALABC supports the development and advancement of lead battery solutions, including the energy storage market, which requires a number of innovative battery solutions to support sustainable and renewable goals. Cases such as Crown Battery supporting a clean and sustainable energy storage project to power the Navajo Nation for the first time demonstrates the key role lead batteries have to play in this growing market, and the technological and innovative advances that ALABC members are already involved in globally.

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