Published on Forbes.
What if there were a way to modernize the nation’s energy grid while also helping bolster renewable energy production? According to Tesla’s innovative mastermind, Elon Musk, the development of massive batteries, which store energy produced from renewable resources, could become a reality within the next year.
Utilizing cutting edge technologies in development of battery facilities to hold power is a potential solution for both home and commercial uses, according to Tesla. As a leading force in developing new technologies and solutions for increased renewable energy generation, Musk tweeted in early 2015 that a major announcement was on the horizon for the company, which has become a household name in the luxury electric vehicle industry.
According to Andrea James, an analyst with Dougherty & Co., the company has installed over 100 pilot projects at both the home and industrial level, including 11 Walmart stores located in California. One particular pilot program was in association with sister company, SolarCity SCTY +0.2%, of which both companies have equipped nearly 300 homes in California with battery storage devices to correspond with rooftop solar panels.
Tesla and SolarCity are just a few of the numerous companies laying a stake hold in the energy storage industry. As a whole, the industry is a quickly growing field, with market value estimates from GTM Research sitting at $1.5 billion by 2019. With the continued surge in development of new energy production from solar, wind, and other green energy technologies, this growth is not unexpected. According to the Quadrennial Energy Report released earlier this week, nearly half of all newly installed electric-generation capacity in 2014 was directly from renewable energy sources.
The general global battery market is over $50 billion, with the rechargeable portion at nearly $6 billion. Growth has been about 6% since 2006, but if fully electric vehicles gain a substantial market share of the transportation sector, and homes become their own electricity generators through rooftop solar, then this will skyrocket in the next several years.
With this growth in energy storage technologies, alternative means of reserving energy continue to develop. Flow batteries, which many argue are safer and provide longer battery life than Tesla’s proposed lithium-ion batteries, are another strategy in the energy storage field. Providing greater stability for large-scale energy grids, flow batteries produce energy with active components separated, creating a safer and longer lasting energy supply. One group leading this effort is the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) at the U.S. Department of Energy. This collaborative government agency utilizes America’s best and brightest to develop transformational technologies to apply to the energy industry.
Although the nation currently sits at a monumental place in its energy security, proactive steps must be taken to secure the energy sources for the future, including the continued development of renewable energy resources. These energy reserves will be an enormous step forward in both modernizing the grid and economizing the energy produced directly from green technologies.
Placing an importance on both innovative technologies and continued conservation of the nation’s natural resources will be an essential part of the energy landscape as new renewable resources continue to develop. With further investment and advancement of green technology, the clean energy industry will be more accessible and affordable for American consumers, creating a more economical and sustainable energy future.