Japan is set to play host to what is expected to be the world’s biggest energy storage battery and system testing facility to date.
The National Institute of Technology and Evaluation’s (Nite) new NLAB facility is located in the city in which the manufacturing bases of lithium-ion battery makers including Panasonic, Hitachi Maxcell and GS Yuasa are also situated.
Nite is preparing to begin testing large-scale batteries this summer at the recently completed NLAB facility.
Located in the city of Osaka, an hour's flight from Tokyo, traditionally a strong manufacturing region, it is hoped that the centre will become integral to ongoing efforts to develop standards for the international energy storage industry.
Koichi Yamamoto, a director at Nite and the Global Center for Evaluation Technology (GCET), spoke to PV Tech’s sister site, Energy Storage News, at the Battery Expo in Tokyo this week taking place alongside PV Expo. He said that NLAB aims to assist the competitiveness of domestic industry, while helping to develop safety standards that could be adopted universally.
"In many ways safety standards – at this point in time – are the most important aspect of developing an energy storage industry as a whole," Yamamoto said, echoing the words of many other groups including Europe's accreditation and testing group DNV GL, which has developeda guide to grid-connecting energy storage systems, to take just one example.
"We'd like to make Japanese safety standards into the universal standards for the industry – while also boosting the competitiveness of Japanese industry."
Yamamoto and colleagues said that influential groups such as the US-based Underwriters' Laboratory are already confirmed to be using the centre for some of its standards development and going forward hope that it will be used for a majority of testing related to standardisation. In future it is likely the testing will not be limited to lithium-ion and perhaps not restricted to energy storage for the above mentioned applications.
However, energy storage for renewables and for the grid are one area where private investment alone does not seem to be able to support large-scale testing, according to Yamamoto, due to the early stage development of the economic case for them and the levels of capital investment required.
"For now, it's focused on energy storage batteries but of course, batteries are widely used in various areas. Of course for these large batteries there is a huge amount of capital investment involved, and for the private sector to support this alone is an extremely difficult thing to achieve. [But] we have been in discussion with industries from all sorts of areas already," Yamamoto said.