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Business Insight

Japan's Kyocera crafts 30% cheaper lithium battery

Company to push renewable energy storage for homes and businesses

Kyocera plans to combine the new batteries with its solar equipment to boost the renewable energy business.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japanese electronic equipment supplier Kyocera has developed a next-generation lithium battery that will entail 30% lower materials costs, according to sources.

The battery, which is to be line tested at the company's Osaka factory within the year, needs fewer electrode layers and separators than current technology, meaning it is cheaper to produce. The company plans to combine its mainstay solar generator business with the new battery technology to promote renewable energy.

Kyocera aims to start mass production by the year through March 2021 and, at first, will market the batteries for power storage in factories and homes. Storage batteries usually cost around 1 million yen ($9,000), making it difficult for users to recoup the expense or gain a return on the investment -- even if they limit their electric bills by installing solar panels and consuming their own energy.

Japan's feed-in tariff system for solar power -- which essentially guarantees that utilities will buy electricity from homes and businesses that produce it, at set prices -- will gradually end after this November.

Many solar-equipped households may be looking to shift to using the power themselves, and businesses are also seeing less merit in selling. The new batteries could help raise the popularity of renewables.

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