The Link Between Batteries and Climate Change?

The best course of action to mitigate the impacts of climate change, and safeguard the planet for future generations, is to transition away from fossil fuel usage in the transport and energy industries. Responsible for the vast majority of carbon emissions driving climate change, these two sectors are currently in the early stages of transitioning away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy. Electric vehicles (EVs) are set to take over the automotive market in the coming decades, and an increasing amount of utility companies are adopting renewable power sources. The key to these transitions reside not only in the energy source, but also how the energy can be stored. 

Already widespread in our phones, laptops and a range of other applications, lithium batteries have changed the electronics landscape – and are expected to do so again. The properties that made lithium batteries so popular (high energy storage, efficient recharging), can be replicated on a larger scale. As such, they have become an important component in the sustainable energy transition.

Lithium-ion batteries have quickly become the go-to for EV energy storage, and have had quality performance when scaled up to service larger power grids. The Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia has provided the blueprint for the implementation of large-scale batteries into major power grids. Built by Tesla as part of a challenge issued by Elon Musk to the Australian state’s government, the lithium-ion batteries have entirely revolutionized the energy storage industry. Within a year of operating, the Reserve saved the state from several blackouts, generated a profit by selling stored renewable energy during peak power demands, and reduced costs for utility companies and consumers alike.

As interest in their capabilities increases, and global demand for clean energy and reliable power storage grows, lithium-ion batteries will surpass their current use. The rise of batteries as a tool to promote sustainable development and a transition towards cleaner energy will especially benefit the environment by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases released by using fossil fuels. Already identified by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as one of the major steps towards mitigating climate change, transitioning towards renewable energy has been limited by the lack of power storage options – until now. Energy storage will power the fight against climate change.