Brian Wallace, Founder & President, NowSourcing
By 2025, the renewable energy market will reach $1.5 trillion. That’s incredible growth from where the industry was in 2019, when renewables powered the equivalent of 43.5 million homes in the US alone. While world governments are supporting the transition to sustainable fuel, the switch is also powered by massive market demand. 71% of Americans think clean energy should be a priority, and nearly half of consumers would be willing to pay more per month to get energy from a renewable source.
Providing renewable, reliable energy to millions requires a better battery. In 2019, less than 5% of behind-the-meter solar systems included any battery at all. Because wind and solar are both intermittent energy sources, they need to store the energy they generate for when consumers need it. Consumers don’t only want power on sunny, windy days, so why should that be the only times they get it? Right now, the alternative to battery usage is net metering. Residential solar systems use net metering to sell excess power to utility companies. Utilities dislike this arrangement because it allows homeowners to use their infrastructure at no cost. In 43 states, net metering regulations are changing such that the process can be phased out. Unless replaced with a power storage system, solar will become less financially viable in the absence of net metering.
While batteries fill the gap, there are limitations to using the most conventional ones. Lithium-ion batteries currently fuel everything from electric vehicles to smartphones. Invented in 1912, they have changed little from their original form. By next year, lithium-ion batteries are anticipated to fuel 61% of demand for renewables. The problem is that lithium-ion batteries degrade over time and quickly lose storage capacity. Fully discharging the battery will shorten its usable lifespan. Producing the batteries is water intensive and lithium mining scars entire landscapes. Furthermore, recycling lithium-ion batteries is difficult and costly. While still the best option for mobile applications, a green future should not be built on the back of lithium-ion batteries.
The future of energy storage is vanadium flow batteries. Vanadium batteries don’t degrade from full discharge, they have 25+ years of useful life, and recycled vanadium retains full functionality, making it a sustainable battery choice. Additionally, vanadium flow batteries are non-flammable, non-explosive, and less vulnerable to variable temperatures than their lithium-ion counterparts. Invest in a greener future with renewable energy and vanadium flow batteries.
About the Author: Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian runs #LinkedInLocal events, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Adviser for 2016-present. Follow Brian Wallace on Linked