Will battery storage finally be the last nail in the oil industry coffin? It sure is starting to look like it. From when Elon Musk did the seemingly impossible at the time and built the 100 megawatts of lithium-ion battery storage in 100 days to Jamestown, in South Australia's mid-north, he proved the industrial scale and speed of battery storage. But what about the practicalities of home storage? The practicalities of both the cost and the dirty materials that go to make batteries are the twin foci of scientists and inventors in the solar battery race.
For generations, power grids have been built on the premise that electricity cannot be stored. The commoditization and domestication of battery power storage is turning the power industry on its head.Since researchers at Stanford University designed a pure lithium anode battery with the potential to increase the capacity of older battery technology by 400%, broad based battery power storage has become more realistic. Scientists have known for years of lithium and its potential – with the major problem being its habit of expanding when a lithium battery is charged. The expansion can be so strong it will often crack the battery casing.The work at Stanford has produced a pure lithium anode battery which doesn’t expand and has dramatically improved charge efficiency. What does this mean?In practical terms it meant that a phone battery with more than four times the current capacity. With further research it will see an electric car with a range of around 500 kilometres – and costing less than $30,000.And now the big end of town power producers are selling batteries to enable households to gather energy during off peak times. Companies like Evergen sell full circle solar/battery/management systems which allow households to hold the solar energy for distribution when needed – not when it’s produced. Photo: Shutterstock