Renewable energy is centre stage these days; interest in developing new technologies and making the existent ones more sustainable is spiking. According to the International Energy Agency, by 2022, green energy will grow by almost 1,000 gig watts to reach 8,000 terawatt-hours and account for a third of power generation worldwide.
Solar and Battery Power – On Going Progress
Starting with 2016, we have witnessed a decade of (tech related) innovations; a significant number of industry-dedicated patents have been filed thus far and the heyday seems to be rolling still. Ironically enough, costs are no longer the main limiting factor; system integration seems to cause a lot of headaches as well.
Whether we’re talking about ‘old-school’ technologies or their ‘green’ counterparts, there’s one unchanged variable: control – over everything from voltage to delivery. This means that specialized providers such as valves manufacturers, system & sub-assembly manufacturers and other similar scope producers, need to adapt and upgrade their traditional products in order to fabricate equipment that is relevant and applicable to today’s growing alternative-energy generation needs.
But control alone is not enough to ensure long term reliability; energy storage also requires particular attention. This is where we circle back to the most wide-spread, contemporary working model: connection to a large scale power-grid. In all fairness, it does have its merits – wide coverage and voltage options come to mind first.
Solar and Battery Power – Shining Resources
Getting on board with solar power (which is now easier and relatively less expensive than before) while staying connected to the power grid, will enable you to sell the excess solar-generated electricity to your contracted power company, during the day, and buy it back at night as needed.
The power companies will be happy to make some extra profit, without any further investment on their side, and you will be happy to see your utilities bills decrease. The more capacity you install, the more your power bill drops. The ‘zero-value power bill’ scenario is also possible should you chose to store (not sell) your power and you’ll additionally experience the ‘zero power-outages’ situation first-hand.
The pro’s (and con’s) of grid-connected solar panels deserve a separate discussion on their own, however for inclusive purposes – let us briefly detail the above-mentioned ways solar power makes a concrete difference in our lives:
- Constant Reliable Power
Grid connected photovoltaic systems supply power even if solar energy is insufficient. The system’s installed inverter feeds a battery bank which is able to store energy and release it in case of need. In a nutshell: grid connected systems don’t necessarily need constant sunshine to address your energy demand – the additional electricity you could entail is automatically delivered by the grid itself.
- Financial Benefits
Apart from the slimed down monthly utilities budget, grid connected solar systems can add to the overall value of property. Given the very volatile nature of real-estate, any lucrative benefit should definitely be considered.
Obviously installing solar systems near utility power lines already in place is not without consequence and the most frequent one is related to setup costs. They may be discouraging, at first sight; plus there’s the permits and legal requirements matter to take in consideration as well.
The bottom line:
Switching to solar is not as smooth and straightforward as it should be… yet. Keep in mind though: in the immediate future, renewable energy is going to turn from trend to mainstream, so weigh your choices (today) wisely. And don’t take any players out of the game. As power demand is constantly growing worldwide, finding sustainable alternatives to outdated battery storage systems is gaining momentum.
The perspective of powering electric vehicles and storing wind and solar energy (for rainy days) is extremely attractive. Lithium-ion batteries have been a favourite power source for decades, since their longevity and energy density made many modern technological advancements possible.
However, lithium’s rising costs have caused invested parties to research other low-carbon, productive battery bases. Materials such as sodium, water, cobalt and gold have received attention and funding over time but, with lithium now so present in modern technology, it’s difficult to obtain the same (or similar) level of commercial/financial success.
‘Liquid’ air batteries were also tested as a viable, alternative source to existing battery types. The world’s first liquid air plant was set up earlier July, in Greater Manchester (UK), aiming to turn air into liquid (to facilitate storage). Supporters maintain this method is both cheaper and more lasting than Li-ion based products. It uses excess or off-peak electricity to bring ambient air to a chilling -196˚C, turn it into liquid and store it in metal tanks.
Pumping and heating is to revert it to gas and make it usable for turbines operations. The process is designed to limit harmful emissions and enable excess energy to be deposited for later use. Despite the fact that, at the moment, liquid air storage only produces small amounts of energy, in time tech upgrades can be deployed to produce hundreds of megawatts.
While each innovative approach targets different aspects of renewable energy sources – with solar reigning supreme in the category – the core motivation remains the same: some combination of present or future improvements could ultimately make green energy more affordable and efficient.