By Jennifer G. Gallegos, director of programs and communications, Yotta Energy
Throughout the last few months, we have seen a radical shift in looking at renewable energy alternatives due to the ongoing energy crisis. What used to be just a vision for the future or “something that we would eventually transition to” has quickly been pushed to the forefront of our reality as we look to build energy resilience and break free from dependence on fossil fuels. Despite many renewable energy options emerging, such as solar, wind and even hydrogen, there is one common theme: we need innovative energy storage solutions. While the energy storage industry is in its infancy, it is constantly evolving with innovative technologies. For example, key factors drive growth in the energy storage sector and accelerate development and deployment within the next few years. This article examines the main growth factors for energy storage, how they shape the renewable energy industry, and why energy storage needs to live up to the hype to play a prominent role in the global energy economy.
Power shortages and outages
During the last several years, natural disasters, from wildfires to winter storms, have ravaged our existing electric grid and disrupted the flow of energy. The Texas blackout last winter, caused by three winter storms, left millions of homes and businesses without electricity for days. And history could easily repeat itself as state leaders continue to urge local communities to be prepared for possible power shortages.
California also faces similar challenges on the opposite side of the natural disaster spectrum. With wildfires causing planned and unplanned power outages, California residents are seeing an increased risk of powerlines catching fire, causing massive damage. While California has faced these issues for years, the state has yet to develop a solution to address them.
Hurricane Ida also left hundreds of thousands of businesses and homes from Louisiana to Massachusetts with extreme flooding and no power for over a week, which restricted rehabilitation efforts and led to many deaths. We’ve learned that no area of the country is immune to power outages caused by natural disasters. As natural disasters become more frequent and more intense, we need to develop and implement ways to bolster the existing electric grid. Deploying more renewable energy and energy storage in our communities are two ways we can increase the antifragility of the grid.
Increased policy by the new administration
During the first two years of his presidency, Joe Biden has made it clear through planned and already passed legislation that he is pushing renewable energy and energy storage technology innovation development and deployment forward with federal policy.
The infrastructure bill was a good start and included $14 billion for resilience programs — where energy storage is a likely investment — as well as $11 billion in grant funding for states, utilities and other operators of energy storage that want to make investments in resilience, according to Energy Storage News.
In addition, Joe Biden recently invoked the Defense Production Act, which will allow the United States to secure sources of critical materials like lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite and manganese that are used to make batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage. This comes as gas prices have significantly increased since last year.
We still need more federal legislation to support research into technological innovations and the deployment of renewable energy and storage initiatives. We also need local and state governments to pass policies to deploy more …….