Clean, renewable energy is essential for sustainability. The main problems with getting to 100% renewable energy are that solar and wind energy spend on weather and time of day, and this makes some sort of storage important.
Improved and less expensive batteries are often touted as the solution to the intermittency of truly renewable energy. Unfortunately, the demand for more and more batteries has in turn created a huge demand for nickel, lithium, and manganese — and this insatiable demand also creates more pressure to ignore laws and regulations designed to protect the environment, human health, and cultural sites. (See A mining primer for Tesla’s Battery Day for more information.)
I suspect that there are better ways to store energy than batteries, ways that would be less resource-intensive. Is it practical to use the excess solar energy at peak periods to power electrolysis systems to break down ordinary water into hydrogen and oxygen that could then be recombined in a fuel cell to generate electricity? Are researchers and engineers working on this, or will we just stampede off another cliff in our quest for more and more batteries?
Are people seriously working to reduce the amount of energy we use — and waste? (The US uses almost four times as much energy per capita as the world average.) Reducing the demand for more and more electricity would also ease the pressure for batteries — and would save users a lot of money in the process!
Seriously, take the time to read that post on Green Rocks!
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