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How Batteries and Energy Storage Are Improving Renewable Energy

Batteries have long fueled the energy need to run our electronics, cars, phones and other portable devices. Developing longer-lasting, more efficient […]

Batteries have long fueled the energy need to run our electronics, cars, phones and other portable devices. Developing longer-lasting, more efficient and reliable batteries has been an important aspect of the age of renewable energy. Recently, we have seen trends where the technology began to surpass the less environmentally friendly alternatives of the past and batteries and other energy storage tools have really began to shine. As we know, most renewable sources of energy rely on sources that can come and go and so it is crucial that we are able to harvest this energy when it is available and then store it for later use efficiently and reliably.

Renewable energy storage is growing drastically in recent years. Global storage capacity for solar energy grew 190% and 40% for wind energy between 2006 and 2012 as reported by the International Renewable Energy Agency. The agency also predicts that by 2030, storage capacity will be 9 times what it was in 2013. This is dramatic growth in the industry and shows a large commitment to renewable energy sources. It’s not just commercial growth either as consumers seek to be a part of the movement. Electric car sales are predicted to grow by about 15% annually through 2024 with some manufacturers moving towards an all-electric product line including Tesla and Volvo most notably and others including Ford, General Motors, and many others drastically increasing their electric product lines in the coming years.

While much of the green movement revolves around harvesting renewable energy, many countries, businesses and other entities are heavily investing in the means to store this energy. Places like California are heading towards this quickly! California is already home to nearly 40% of the United States energy storage but they plan to drastically add to this by just 2020. The state has committed to having half of all its energy coming from renewable sources in the same time frame. This is crucial for the future of the movement as California will serve as the beta test for the viability of renewable energy. Other states will be following their example in the very near future as they roll out this technology.

With all new endeavors, there are challenges. This is no different for renewable energy storage. There is a hesitation to move completely into using batteries in the main power grid often citing safety issues, cost and reliability concerns. Batteries can often be quite expensive and have limited lifespans, even rechargeable ones eventually fail due to efficiency issues limiting the amount of recharges available. The most common battery types used for renewable energy are lead-acid batteries which typically have a short cycle and last only about three or four years. Other options with longer cycles are available but they usually carry higher price tags or less stability.

New options are being developed all over the world. The University of Illinois, Chicago has been experimenting with using new materials like Magnesium ions which can move twice as many electrons and expand the cycle of the battery. Japan has been working on a duel-carbon battery that has a charge rate 20 times faster than Lithium-ion batteries. There has been a very recent introduction to the future as well in the realm of solid-state batteries. This means rather than relying on liquid minerals and materials to store the energy, the battery uses a conductive, solid material. Toyota has been scrambling to work out the kinks in this technology to have it ready for commercialization as early as the 2020s. The largest kink being mass production of the technology which will drastically improve driving range in electric vehicles.

Developments in battery technology and renewable energy sources are being made every day and its important to stay up to date with the newest developments to further our commitment to the planet. Stay up to date by subscribing to Dvinci below. [gravityform id=”3″ title=”true” description=”true”]