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Additional Emissions and Cost from Storing Electricity in Stationary Battery Systems

Schmidt, Tobias S., Beuse, Martin, Zhang, Xiaojin, Steffen, Bjarne, Schneider, Simon F., Pena-Bello, Alejandro, Bauer, Christian, Parra, David
Environmental science & technology 2019 v.53 no.7 pp. 3379-3390
batteries, economic costs, electricity, geography, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, manufacturing, renewable energy sources
Stationary batteries are an important technological option for renewable energy-based decarbonization of the electricity sector, as they can counterbalance renewable energy sources’ intermittency and provide grid-stabilizing services. However, it has been argued that the additional economic cost of batteries, emissions occurring during the manufacturing phase of batteries, and emissions caused by losses during the use phase can reduce batteries’ potential in supporting the decarbonization of the electricity sector. Here, we perform a new battery production- and use-phase lifecycle emissions and cost analysis to calculate the additional lifecycle greenhoues gas (GHG) emissions (LCE) and costs (LCC) that arise from storing electricity in six different battery technologies, five applications, and three different geographies. Our results show that the LCE of storing electricity are strongly determined by application and geography, whereas LCC vary with application and technology. Lithium-ion technologies perform best across most applications and geographies on both the LCE and LCC dimensions. Furthermore, we only identify trade-offs between the LCC and the GHG emissions cost when assuming a high social cost of GHG emissions of 180 EUR/tonCO₂e. Based on our results, we discuss which dimensions of technological improvement of battery technologies are most desirable from a societal perspective.