|Are the Batteries Ready? 100% Clean Energy Requires Progress on Storage|
In the long run, there’s no avoiding energy storage for a 100% renewable energy society. The two major sources of renewable power are wind and sun, and they are either fickle or reliably not available at night.
There are two likely paths to a 100% renewable energy future in these circumstances: mass distribution of low-density, low-cost storage, or higher density storage.
In some respects, we’re already moving along the first path. Widespread availability of battery-powered iPads and laptops has led to great strides in greater energy density of batteries and lower cost.
Electrified transportation is the next iteration, using batteries that are orders of magnitude larger (e.g. a Nissan Leaf battery with 23 kW-hour capacity has 300 times the storage capacity of a Macbook Pro laptop battery). These are 1st-generation commercial batteries, with enormous improvements in capacity and cost likely. Furthermore, with hundreds of millions of cars, the sheer storage capacity of the U.S. vehicle fleet will be tremendous (over 4 billion kilowatt-hours) as electric vehicles become the drive train standard. And a recent study has shown that the storage capacity of 2.1 million vehicles can enable an additional 10 gigawatts of wind power on the grid (in the Northwest).
The good (or bad, depending on your perspective) news for the U.S. is that renewable energy is such a small fraction of total electricity generation that energy storage isn’t yet necessary in any significant quantity. Existing power plants have sufficient spare capacity to fill the gaps left by variable renewables. While this state of affairs doesn’t endear the U.S. power industry to environmentalists, it does mean there is time to see storage technology improve.
Source: GO MEDIA: Written by JOHN FARRELL