Until just a few decades ago, “sustainability” was a term that was hardly ever used. When humans needed a new resource they simply searched for it, found a way to extract it, and then implemented its use. In recent years, however, there has been more and more emphasis placed on the sustainable use of our planet’s limited resources. At the same time, the populations of most major cities have exploded, increasing demand for the very resources we need to conserve. One of the greatest increases in demand has been felt in the energy sector.
The race is on to find sustainable – and affordable – solutions that will satisfy this increased demand, while successfully conserving limited resources. The most readily available eco-friendly solutions like wind and solar energy are unreliable, however, since their availability is determined by environmental factors that cannot be controlled.
Cities like Los Angeles that have really felt the pinch in terms of increased demand, particularly at peak times, have taken the matter into their own hands. LA recently announced its intention to install the world’s largest storage battery, which will have the ability to deliver in excess of 100 megawatts of power per hour over a four-hour period.
The latest developments in the race to store sustainable energy
As reported by the Cambridge Core blog recently, scientists are eager to find ways to store sustainably sourced power for use at peak times. This would reduce costs to consumers, who are currently charged at a higher rate for power supplementation at such times. A study recently published in the journal MRS Energy and Sustainability, considered some of the options currently available to meet this need.
The Cambridge Core blog reported:
Eminent authors from academia and industry … provide an overview of energy storage technologies that can help reduce demand charges for commercial and industrial customers, as well as residential customers, in the future.
While mechanical energy storage technologies like pumped hydro dominate the total energy storage (TES) capacity at the moment, the authors conclude that these technologies are too large and geographically dependent for wide-scale use. Instead, chemical devices like batteries, and thermal devices such as water heaters or ice storage, have the greatest potential for demand charge reduction.
The authors argue that battery storage is more flexible than TES because it can power any device that uses electricity. They look at the pros and cons of batteries using technologies such as lead acid and conclude that lithium ion batteries have a far broader potential for performance increases.
If other experts and scientists agree that battery storage is the best solution for storing sustainably sourced energy in the future, then Los Angeles is likely to be just the first of many cities to implement this technology.