Blog

Zinc Batteries Fare Well in Life Cycle Assessments

As promising zinc-based battery technologies advance, Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) provided by certified, independent third parties can serve as differentiators in the crowded field of energy storage options. Several zinc battery developers have commissioned Boundless Impact Research & Analytics to provide LCAs, systematic analyses of the potential environmental impacts of these emerging clean technologies during their entire life cycle. The results have validated sustainability claims as well as attracted customers, partners, and investors, and advanced the development of zinc-based energy storage technologies.

COMMENTARY

Why are Life Cycle Assessments becoming an increasingly important means of evaluating cleantech performance and economics? First, consumers, businesses, insurers and regulators are increasingly denouncing greenwashing, and demanding more fact- and science-based environmental impact analyses. Second, these assessments include verifiable Environmental Key Performance Indicators (EKPIs), which enable cleantech developers and investors to make informed decisions about which technologies to invest in, and how best to evolve their operations. Finally, LCAs also help investment managers ensure that they and their customers have full insight into the risks and opportunities in portfolio companies. The assessments examine sourcing and type of materials used, greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency and resiliency.

LCAs also provide battery companies with social and regulatory advantages. Most European Union (EU) based companies are required to report their Scope 1 and 2 emissions data or face penalties. Non-EU companies in some sectors will also be required to disclose their emissions if they import to EU countries as part of the recently passed Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is expected to pass similar climate reporting requirements, while consumers are increasingly prioritizing verification of sustainability claims in purchasing decisions as they become more aware of the environmental damage done by many traditional products.

Josef Daniel-Ivad

That’s why the independent, verifiable LCAs performed by Boundless have provided a significant competitive advantage to zinc battery developers, many of which are members of the Zinc Battery Initiative (ZBI), the voice of the zinc battery industry. In fact, four of ZBI’s members companies have commissioned Boundless to perform LCAs, and in each case zinc batteries achieved much better results than competing technologies.

One zinc battery developer to see immediate results from its LCA is Oregon, USA-based ZincFive, which manufactures high-capacity nickel-zinc batteries for tech, transportation and industrial applications, both stationary and mobile. The 2020 Boundless assessment earned ZincFive a 9.4/10 Boundless Climate Impact Score, which provides first-of-its-kind quantification across competing battery chemistries. ZincFive most recently raised $54 million in Series D funding and partnered with leading climate and sustainability venture capitalists, including lead investor for its Series D round, Helios Climate Ventures, which cited the low end-to-end climate impact of ZincFive’s battery technology as a factor in its investment. “ZincFive continues to innovate with our powerful, safe, and reliable nickel-zinc battery technology across multiple markets such as data centers, industrial engine starting, EV charging and microgrid,” said ZincFive CEO and Co-Founder Tim Hysell. “We and our clients recognize the growing significance of sustainability, and are committed to reducing carbon footprint and operating costs without sacrificing safety or performance.”

Like ZincFive, New York-based Urban Electric Power (UEP) earned a high assessment in their February 2022 assessment, achieving a 9.6/10 Boundless Climate Impact Score. Overall, UEP’s greenhouse gas footprint is 82% lower than lithium-ion batteries and 71% lower than sodium sulfide batteries. The LCA has helped UEP secure contracts with Pine Gate Renewables, Maplewell Energy, and the San Diego Supercomputer Center. This compares similarly to EOS Energy Enterprises, a New Jersey-based zinc hybrid cathode technology battery developer manufacturing grid-scale energy storage solutions. With a 9.5/10 Boundless LCA in their 2020 assessment, EOS batteries had a greenhouse gas footprint 84% lower than lithium-ion, 51% lower than sodium sulfur, and 45% lower than vanadium redox batteries. Since completing the LCA, EOS has more than tripled its revenue from 2021 to 2022 and more than doubled its orders. Late last year, EOS inked an agreement with Bridgelink Commodities, LLC for $150 million worth of energy storage projects across Texas.

Printable, scalable zinc battery developer Imprint Energy also benefitted from the results of its Boundless LCA. The California-based manufacturer earned an 8.7/10 in their July 2021 assessment and achieved a greenhouse gas footprint 57% lower than its competitor coin cells, 92% lower than pouch cells and 78% lower than solid state batteries. So far, Imprint has raised $25 million from investors including Phoenix Venture Partners and Global Value Investment Portfolio.

For each participating zinc battery developer, the resulting Boundless LCA has validated the technology and performance as well as motivated additional investments and interest in these sustainable zinc batteries. The data-driven assessments can reassure customers, partners and investors that zinc battery technologies can fulfill their promising future by outperforming the competition in energy storage and sustainability.

Josef Daniel-Ivad is manager of the Zinc Battery Initiative.