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The Need for Grid-Level Battery Tech

Posted May 05, 2022

Ray Blanco

By Ray Blanco

The Need for Grid-Level Battery Tech

Despite supply chain disruptions, it’s turning out to be another banner year for renewable energy production.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the United States is expected to install more than 46.1 gigawatts of new utility-scale electric-generating capacity of all kinds. To put that in perspective, it’s 15% more energy than New York state generates during the summer.

More than half of that newly installed electrical capacity is expected to come from renewable energy sources like solar and wind. In fact, 63% of new electric capacity will be coming from these two renewable resources.

I expect these renewable energy additions to accelerate in the coming years. New energy projects take years to plan and build, so this year’s additions reflect decisions made years ago. With last November’s trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, $65 billion was earmarked to transition the U.S. power grid toward energy sources that don’t emit carbon dioxide at the point of electricity generation, which largely means we’ll be building a lot of solar and wind facilities over the coming few years.

Of course, although renewables are touted due to their low greenhouse gas emissions profiles, they are far from perfect energy sources. Among them is availability — the Achilles’ heel of wind and solar, with another drawback the ability to be dispatchable. 

Solar energy sources don’t produce electricity when the sun isn’t shining, and wind power is at the mercy of fickle winds.. 

Neither energy source is a dispatchable energy resource, meaning it can be turned on when needed like a traditional electrical plan can. 

The wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine. Technology above and beyond is required to make wind and solar truly practical energy resources for our power grid. 

This can mean having dispatchable backup energy production on hand for when renewable electricity output is low or demand exceeds it. 

However, it can also mean storing electricity during periods of high renewable production in order to hold it for times where it's needed.

The most common way to do this is by using huge, grid-scale batteries. Lithium-ion batteries — already common in consumer electronics — are one viable battery technology. And as prices fall, lithium-based battery technology will remain competitive in many respects. 

To a bright future,

Ray Blanco

Ray Blanco
Chief Technology Expert, Technology Profits Daily
AskRay@StPaulResearch.com

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