Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Battery Storage Systems for Stationary Applications

This paper presents a comparative life cycle assessment of cumulative energy demand (CED) and global warming potential (GWP) of four stationary battery technologies: lithium-ion, lead-acid, sodium–sulfur, and vanadium-redox-flow. The analyses were carried out for a complete utilization of their cycle life and for six different stationary applications. Due to its lower CED and GWP impacts, a qualitative analysis of lithium-ion was carried out to assess the impacts of its process chains on 17 midpoint impact categories using ReCiPe-2008 methodology. It was found that in general the use stage of batteries dominates their life cycle impacts significantly. It is therefore misleading to compare the environmental performance of batteries only on a mass or capacity basis at the manufacturing outlet (“cradle-to-gate analyses”) while neglecting their use stage impacts, especially when they have different characteristic parameters. Furthermore, the relative ranking of batteries does not show a significant dependency on the investigated stationary application scenarios in most cases. Based on the results obtained, the authors go on to recommend the deployment of batteries with higher round-trip efficiency, such as lithium-ion, for stationary grid operation in the first instance.