This year, lifepo4 batteries have become trending in new-energy vehicle market. Their demand in the 5G base station application has also risen sharply. It is predicted that the demand of lifepo4 batteries for telecom power supply in 2020 will reach to 10GWh. And it will continue to increase in the future, and will surge to 155.4GWh by 2025.
Compared with the lead-acid battery used in 4G base stations, lifepo4 batteries have obvious advantages in safety, cycle life, rapid charging and discharging performance, etc., which can reduce the dependence on the capacity expansion of the city power and reduce the cost of network construction and operation. Currently, it is the most suitable technical solution for 5G base station energy storage.
Lifepo4 Batteries Outperform Lead-acid Batteries
From a technical perspective, the lifepo4 battery has a long cycle life, fast charging and discharging speed, and high temperature resistance, which can reduce the operating cost and improve the operating efficiency of 5G base stations.
The cycle life of general lead-acid batteries is 3-5 years, and the number of charge and discharge times is 500-600 times, while the cycle life of lithium iron phosphate batteries is more than 10 years, and the number of charge and discharge times is more than 3000 times, that is, the full life cycle of the base station Inside, if you use a lead-acid battery, you need to replace the battery, and the lifepo4 battery does not need to be replaced.
Although the cost of lifepo4 batteries is 1-2 times higher than that of lead-acid batteries at present, the cost of lifepo4 batteries is only 1/3 of that of lead-acid batteries when consider the service life of 5000 cycles.
Compared to lead-acid batteries, lifepo4 batteries are also superior in terms of charge and discharge speed. The charging speed is 10 times that of the lead-acid battery, which will greatly save the charging time of the telecom power supply batteries.
As an energy storage battery, the lifepo4 batteries can also store electricity during the trough period at night and discharge it during the peak period of the day to achieve peak clipping and valley filling, which will reduce the cost of electricity for the base station.
In terms of safety performance, lifepo4 batteries have a higher thermal runaway degree, less explosions, and high safety controllability, which can ensure the safe operation of 5G base stations.
The lifepo4 battery can definitely meet the characteristics of 5G base stations. It’s high density, small size, light weight, and large power supply from the battery pack are regarded as the best choice for 5G base station backup power batteries. But in the early years, the price of lithium iron phosphate batteries was 3-5 yuan per watt-hour, which was 3-5 times the price of lead-acid batteries of the same specifications, so most communication base stations chose to use cheaper lead-acid batteries as base station backup. With the development of lifepo4 battery technology, its price is decreasing year by year. The application demand for lifepo4 batteries in base stations naturally "swelled".
Recycling Technology Still Llimits Commercial Scale Use
Although the lifepo4 battery has been widely used in 5G base stations, and the technology has reached the existing 5G base station backup battery standard, it still takes time to achieve the large-scale application of lifepo4 batteries in the telecom power supply. Not all existing lead-acid batteries have been retired. It will take at least 5-8 years for lifepo4 batteries to completely replace lead-acid batteries.
Recycling technology for lifepo4 batteries has high thresholds, complicated recycling processes, and limited recycling value. It also limits the large-scale development of lifepo4 batteries.
The recovery process of lead-acid batteries is mature, and the recovery process is simple and has certain economic efficiency. But in addition to the high recovery value of lithium and copper in lifepo4 battery packs, the overall battery recovery is not yet economical, nor is the recovery process mature. At present, the construction of 5G base stations is going on. At that time, more than 100GWh of lifepo4 batteries will be needed, and how to recycle 800 million tons of batteries. There is no clear plan. The issue of recycling lifepo4 batteries needs to be solved urgently.
At present, the telecom power supply system has strict requirements on batteries, and the product standardization system should be established as soon as possible to promote the market development of lifepo4 batteries.