Between 2014 and 2015, global solar power generation witnessed a 33 percent increase – a trend that is likely to continue as the world looks to replace fossil fuels with renewables and batteries become more advanced, facilitating the storage of clean energy. In April 2017, California saw wholesale prices for electricity drop to zero, and sometimes negative – an unprecedented drop for the state, which has been working to harness the power of the sun for the past 15 years. Soon after, Germany saw a similar drop in the price of electricity as it began the reap the results of its Energy Transition (Energiewende) – an initiative that is seeing the country shut down its nuclear power plants and reduce reliance on coal. In June, India canceled coal power plant projects after solar energy prices made a record drop there as well. These are but a few examples of the ways in which solar power is quickly becoming a feasible alternative to fossil fuels.
As cities look to become increasingly circular, one of the biggest challenges they must contend with in increasing reliance on renewables is the challenges posed by energy storage, or batteries. In spite of the strides made in the sector in recent years, advancements in renewable energy in the future will be driven primarily by advances in battery storage technology. It is estimated that the battery market will reach $250 billion by 2040, with EVs being the primary drivers of the battery industry. And while researchers at MIT have suggested that firebrick – an age-old way of making clay bricks that can withstand high temperatures – could potentially act as a revolutionary force in energy storage, it will take multiple solutions to truly mainstream renewables.
It is only by developing environmentally-friendly, efficient and durable battery systems that renewables will become a truly sustainable – and reliable – source of energy for the future. This infograph by New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Online Master of Science examines how solar batteries are the future of renewable energy.