|Lisa Salley writes:
People take batteries for granted, typically worrying about them only when they fail in the electronic devices they carry or in the cars they drive.
But batteries are a crucial component of many modern conveniences, from medical devices to industrial machines. They help power other, less commonly seen, facets of modern life, in particular, the electric distribution system.
Today, two-thirds of electricity production comes from fossil fuel burning, with another fifth coming from nuclear power, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Yet the environmental hazards produced by these means, along with the finite supply of fuel for these technologies, means the production of power for the electric grid must be increasingly produced by sustainable energy sources.
Yet nature's changeability means there will always be fluctuations in the energy produced by these methods at any time, with production rates that bear little relation to societal electricity demands. Developing better ways of efficiently harnessing water, solar and wind power will always be a priority, but the reliability of renewable energy sources must be supported by the increased use of batteries and storage strategies.
Batteries Can Sustain Sustainable Energy
Batteries optimize the management of electricity generated from sustainable energy sources. Because the demand for energy and its production vary significantly and independently over time, the efficient operation of the electric grid depends on adequately supplying electricity from non-primary sources to meet ever-changing demand instantly.
Power storage in batteries serves a two-fold purpose for solar energy systems. By storing energy, batteries can supplement photovoltaic cells during a peak demand period and can bolster electric output at night or at other times sunlight is blocked.
The same is true for wind power. Batteries capture and retain excess power when the wind is strong but power demand is weak, then make it available for mid-day peak periods.Batteries—storage in general, for that matter—are essential to transforming our insecure, 19th century electrical grid into a power structure where microgrids make it impossible for terrorists and superstorms to destroy out civilization.