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The Future of Batteries

We live in a world where the population is becoming increasingly more aware and more anxious of climate change and what it will mean for the future. With the threat of needing to find alternate power sources before it’s too late, much research and innovation has been invested in finding a substitute. The surge in renewable energy sources that we have experienced over the last 20 years has given us some hope for the future, but world leading research teams are still determined to do more.

It seems as though batteries play an incredibly large part in this story, as we uncover the future of batteries in the running of our planet.

Accommodating for renewable energy

In recent years, we have seen an increase in the use of wind and solar power. While this is a positive step in the right direction, wind and solar power requires storage for the energy until we need it, which poses the next big challenge. The solution, it seems, is large scale battery installations.

You may be picturing thousands of your average AAA batteries, but in reality it’s much bigger than that. These battery installations, based on lithium ion, are predicted to be the cheapest way of storage energy, in a recent study by the Imperial College London.

In the UK, battery installations are being used to deploy services to the National Grid, helping to match supply and demand. It’s important to remember that both wind and solar power can be incredibly intermittent and unreliable, but as more of this type of power becomes available, it’s crucial that the storage facilities are there.

What’s more, the rise of hybrid renewable energy power plants will also rely on battery installations alongside solar and wind farms. This provides the opportunity to store the power to sell at the right time and the right price, which is key for the economy of the industry.

In other parts of the world, this type of battery is being used to make energy grids more resilient and to avoid blackouts.

The rise of batteries in different industries

Household batteries are about the size of a gas boiler, and can store or release electricity that is generated by your household or imported from the grid. This is something still in its early stages, but could prove to be a popular choice once it becomes more readily available.

For solar households, it will make much more financial sense to store and consume the energy, rather than being paid for exporting it back to the grid. It’s the beginning of the concept of using batteries as a virtual power plant.

There will, of course, also be an increase in the use of electric cars, but there is still a way to go before it becomes mainstream. The first models offered around 100 miles, but newer versions can reach 200-300 miles; this could mean a boost in electric cars over the next couple of years as better choices become available. What’s more, ultrafast charging will be necessary for mainstream users. At the minute, a typical home will take up to 10 hours to fully top up your electric car, but some new public chargers could do the same in just 10 minutes.

The future is electric

It’s clear that battery power will play a huge part in the future, and one way or another, industries will become reliant on battery installations. Companies are already investing time, research and money into increasing the energy of a battery while keeping manufacturing costs down. The majority of this innovation is centred around lithium ion.

There are even predictions that batteries will be put to completely brand new uses, such as replacing diesel generators in industrial equipment, and even used in small devices like medical implants.

Whichever way you look at it, batteries are the future and it’s going to be interesting to see how it all develops as technologies improve.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.

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