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Sumitomo Electric to Open Long-Life Battery Facility in North America
Sumitomo Electric to Open Long-Life Battery Facility in North America

Sumitomo Electric to Open Long-Life Battery Facility in North America

  • 08-Feb-2023 11:37 AM
  • Journalist: Peter Schmidt

U.S. : Japanese company Sumitomo Electric Industries is investing in North America, with plans to construct a new battery plant. This move signals the U.S.'s commitment to transitioning to renewable and sustainable energy sources.

Sumitomo is investing in the development of large-capacity batteries, called “redox flow cells”, to store electricity from clean energy sources such as wind turbines. These cutting-edge batteries are more resistant to degradation than conventional Lithium-ion batteries and can last up to 30 years--twice as long as their Lithium-ion counterparts.

North America is set to see a major expansion in the battery market, with Japanese research firm Fuji Keizai Group predicting it will reach 1.7 trillion yen ($12.9 billion) by 2035. Sumitomo plans to gain first-mover advantage by establishing a local production base in the area.

Osamu Inoue, president of the company, proclaimed that the United States will soon become the biggest battery market in the world with California taking a pioneering role. He highlighted their intentions to bolster their business by manufacturing batteries both in the U.S. and Japan.

The company is currently exploring the possibility of moving its base of operations to Texas or Aguascalientes, Mexico. Discussions are in progress as they plan their next steps.

Sumitomo is aiming to open a new plant by 2024 and expects to generate 10 billion yen in sales from the business by 2025. The company plans to procure key materials from local companies, assemble them, and deliver the batteries to utility companies. Additionally, Sumitomo wants to produce batteries in Osaka and is looking to increase production capacity threefold.

The redox flow battery is a revolutionary new type of battery that works by circulating liquid Vanadium in a tank. This advanced technology enables batteries to have a longer and safer lifespan, making them an ideal choice for renewable energy sources that can be subject to weather fluctuations and unsteady supply. The deployment of the redox flow battery will prove essential in the transition from fossil fuels to more sustainable energy sources.

The Fuji Keizai Group predicts that the global market of stationary batteries will reach 5.4 trillion yen by 2035 - a massive growth of 3.8 times from 2021. Of this, North America is expected to lead with an enormous jump of 4.1 times, reaching 1.7 trillion yen, followed by 1.1 trillion in China and 746.6 billion yen in Europe.

According to the International Energy Agency, the U.S. energy mix currently includes 21 percent renewables, which is lower than countries like China and some European nations.

President Joe Biden's administration has made a pledge to strive for net-zero emissions in the electricity sector by 2035. This goal seeks to incorporate more renewable options, such as offshore wind power, to reduce the Carbon footprint. California is taking an additional step forward and has mandated the installation of large batteries for some utilities in the state. Together, these initiatives are paving the way for a cleaner future.

Companies across the globe are in a race to create new, reliable forms of energy storage. Among these storage options are solid-state batteries -- specifically designed for electric vehicles (EVs). Sumitomo made history in 2001 when they became the first ever to bring redox flow batteries into commercial use. These batteries offer durability and safety, but unfortunately their large size prevents them from being used as an EV power source.

The installation of redox flow batteries from this company can be more cost-effective in the long run, since their capacity can be increased simply by adding electrolyte. The initial costs are approximately 1.5 times higher than those of Lithium-ion batteries, but the potential for expansion offers greater value for money.

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