To the editor: The ability to store electricity for our grid is necessary to increase the use of clean, renewable energy sources.
We need to transition to clean energy since we are already seeing significant negative economic weather-related effects made worse by climate change even in the U.S. Increasing temperatures have led to decreased moisture content in the soil, increasing the intensity of droughts and fires especially in the west, while rain events increasingly have had more moisture to them increasing flooding in many areas in the country.
Investing in clean energy and energy storage now will be cheaper than the costs of remediating climate related disasters in the future. Fortunately, there have been significant technical advances in electrical storage technology which will decrease electrical storage costs, increase electrical discharge time and improve safety compared to grid storage batteries using lithium.
Grid energy storage batteries utilizing zinc have the ability to produce electricity on to the grid from eight hours to 100 hours of discharge. Zinc-based energy storage also has the advantage of having a smaller footprint than those corresponding batteries using lithium. Zinc is also cheaper than lithium and is abundant in the U.S., whereas lithium has to be imported. Grid electrical storage batteries utilizing iron and air, which are capable of delivering energy continuously for 100 hours have been recently perfected which could make generating electricity from fossil fuel unnecessary.
A pilot plant is being built in Minnesota to demonstrate the technology on a commercial scale for a commercial utility. Iron air battery storage systems will also be able to reliably provide electricity in extreme weather events and likely be the cheapest electrical storage option.
Renewable energy storage for the grid is now safer, more reliable, and cheaper than those options using lithium. Adoption of these cutting-edge technologies will lead to future innovation in energy storage capabilities, some of which are being developed here in Massachusetts. Now is time to integrate energy storage technology as part of the plan to satisfy our energy needs for the near future.
Timothy Wright, Pittsfield