Energy storage, should be one of the best tracks in the future, because now it is realizing the process of 0 to 1, from nothing to something. And when 1 emerges, the process of 1 to 10 will quickly follow, and many big opportunities will emerge in this process.
Over the past decade, prices for solar panels and wind farms have reached all time low, leading to hundreds of gigawatts, worth of new renewable energy generation. As the sating goes through, the wind isn’t always blowing and the sun isn’t always shining.
If, for example, it’s a beautiful sunny day and we’ve got a super abundance of electricity, we can’t use it. The question of how to firm renewables, that is, ensuring there’s always energy on demand no matter the time of day or weather, is one of the biggest challenges in the industry. We need a good way to store energy for later. And the main option right now is lithium ion batteries. Yes see them in products like Tesla’s home battery, the Powerwall and utility-scale system, the Powerpack. But though lithium ion is dropping in price, experts say it will remain too expensive for most grid-scale applications. To get to battery for the electrical grid, we need to look at a further cost reduction of 10 to20x. Right now, lithium ion batteries just can’t store more than four hours worth of energy at a price point that would make sense. Plus, they pose a fire risk and their ability to hold a charge fades over time. To address this, there’s a cadre of entrepreneurs experimenting with a variety of different solutions. Now we are seeing flow batteries, which are liquid batteries, and we’re seeing other forms of storage that are not chemical or battery-based storage. And each has serious potential. We looked at materials on the periodic table that were actually going to be cost competitive from day one. Thermal energy storage has a pretty unique opportunity to be extremely low cost. Which technologies prevail remains to be seen. But one thing is clear. For renewables to truly compete with fossil fuels, we need to figure out a battery way to store energy.