Storage for Renewable Energy
The sun is a source of immense energy. There is more solar energy that reaches the surface of the Earth each hour than the amount of energy consumed by the world in an entire year. Due to advances in technology and reduction in costs the world’s renewable electricity capacity is set to grow by 40% by 2022 reaching a 30% share of global power generation.
Even with the latest lithium-ion battery technology, gasoline is 100 times more energy-dense than a battery.
As transportation uses on-demand energy to power all the cars, planes and ships in the world, the energy needs to be stored in physical form. As electricity is not easily stored due to the relatively low energy density of batteries compared to fuels such as gasoline and diesel the deployment of renewable technologies in the transportation sector remains low.
Batteries used as storage for renewable energy is gaining traction for smaller electric vehicles but making the jump to larger commercial vehicles such as long-haul trucks, planes or ships is seen as very challenging due to the inefficiency of battery storage compared to liquid fuels as seen in the chart above. Right now gasoline is 100 times more energy-dense than a battery. That means you would need 100 lbs of battery to go as far as 1 lb of gasoline can take you.
A further example of how far battery technology needs to come in order to gain traction in the commercial aerospace industry. A fully fueled Boeing 777 has a capacity of 181,283 liters of Jet-A or 315,432 lbs of fuel. If you were to replace the current Jet-A fuel with batteries the weight of the batteries would be an astonishing 31,543,200 lbs. or 40 times heavier than the max takeoff weight for the Boeing 777 (774,600 lbs).