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Battery Storage Might Save Us

Updated: Mar 15

Without battery storage, renewable energy is wasted.


Climate change is a complex problem that requires a complex solution. There is no cure-all, no-strings-attached method for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. An effective solution to climate change must come with the sacrifice of one or more of the following things: energy reliability, energy independence or environment-damaging lifestyle choices.


Clean sources of renewable energy, such as solar power or wind power, do not deplete natural resources, nor do they produce carbon dioxide when used. However, because they are reliant on the state of nature (on whether the sun is shining or the wind is blowing), they cannot produce a consistent amount of energy each day. This does not mean that we should give up on generating power from nature; instead, we should use these limitations to innovate ways to stabilize our energy sources. This is where battery storage comes in.


Large-scale battery storage offers a way to store excess renewable energy and release it when it’s needed most. With our current system, if wind or solar power is generated, but that power isn’t needed on the grid, it is simply “curtailed”, or cut off. While logical, this is a huge waste of clean energy. If, instead, that power was used to charge a lot of batteries, these batteries could store the energy and discharge it quickly when energy needs are higher. In short, large-scale batteries paired with existing renewable energy generators could lend stable, clean energy to the electricity grid all the time.


Without immediate investment in battery storage, progress on renewable energy will be wasted. The stakes are high — our planet lies in the balance. Think about how much energy we could be storing each day from wind and solar energy sources. All this valuable power is currently being thrown away! This kind of stored energy could reduce energy costs, meet energy demand without requiring a reliance on natural gas and improve the flexibility and stability of our energy supply.


Battery storage does take a lot of capital to build on such a large scale. That being said, this challenge offers many opportunities for innovation and investment. More importantly, though, this challenge offers us the opportunity to save our planet. 


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.


Sources


Bowen, Thomas, Ilya Chernyakhovskiy, and Paul Denholm. “Grid-Scale Battery Storage: Frequently Asked Questions”, National Renewable Energy Lab, Sept. 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20220127051533/https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy19osti/74426.pdf. Accessed and archived 26 Jan. 2022.

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