As the demand for electricity rises, and the need to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions becomes increasingly important, the US and other countries are exploring various areas of carbon-free renewable energy, like wind and solar power.
Batteries are vital to these renewables — they are capable of enabling electric cars, buses, homes and buildings by stocking solar and wind power for when the sun and wind are out of commission. Since renewables only generate energy sporadically, batteries can maintain a balance so consumers are able to use stored energy to power their homes 24/7.
The company American Vanadium has recently discovered the only-known vanadium mine in the US, in Nevada. Vanadium is a metal that is found in shale rock, and can be used to make highly durable batteries for cars, homes and utilities. Businesses across varying fields are utilizing this metal to advance certain technologies, such as personal electronics, cars, solar panels and wind farms.
The solar panel global market is predicted to skyrocket, from $200 million in 2012 to $19 billion by 2017. The price of renewables has been steadily decreasing — solar panel prices have dropped by almost 60% since 2011. Solar and wind power use in the US has soared as well: last year, US electric power from solar panels rose to 76%, while wind turbines rose to 28%.
Batteries are garnering more attention because they are all-purpose. Batteries can be used to store grid-scale energy, such as hydroelectric power, where water is transported to a reservoir and then sent to operate generators. Batteries can also be employed anywhere and are efficiently scalable — they can run something smaller like a car, and something bigger like a factory.
Though it will take some time for us to fully develop batteries to suit our needs, batteries are key to sustaining our environment and resisting the affects of climate change.
Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan
July 3, 2013
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