“Little attention has been given to massive electricity storage that is a key to making the use of renewable energy possible on a broad scale. In America today, there is an almost total absence of public awareness of the need.” -American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AICE)
The ability to harness and disperse energy taken from the sun, wind, and other natural resources is a concept that is rapidly progressing and becoming common-place throughout the country. The big issue, however, is what to do when nature isn’t cooperating and these sources of renewable energy aren’t accessible. Then what? That seems to be the billion dollar question and the biggest obstacle standing in the way of us becoming more dependent on solar and wind energy. “How you store energy from wind at times when it’s not needed – and what you do when the wind stops blowing – is emerging as something that must be discussed and studied,” said Prof. William Smyrl of the University of Minnesota.
While right now the U.S. is using the wind, sun, and other natural resources for about 3% of our energy needs, the U.S. Department of Energy has stated a goal of 20% by the year 2020. According to a very informative article on The Christian Science Monitor, this will only be possible with the advancement and development of giant batteries that have the capabilities of storing such power. This has led to billions of dollars being made available to those who come up with the best storage system for renewable energy. “What I’m talking about are batteries the size of a double-decker bus. These batteries could be deployed in a large-scale system over several square miles – or individually, maybe at the base of a wind turbine or at a wind farm,” said battery expert David Bradwell of M.I.T.
So while the storage of renewable energies remains to be a question mark, with as much as is currently being invested toward this issue it is likely that we will soon have answers. For now though, it stands as an interesting talking point and a crazy visualization of a day when seeing batteries the size of a double-decker bus become a normal, everyday occurrence.