It’s now 2017 and battery technology has really made leaps and bounds in the last few years.
Energy storage is a really important part of the equation when it comes to moving away from fossil fuels and to renewable sources. This is particularly true in the case of solar energy: the sun doesn’t shine 24hrs a day, but we use electricity at all times of the day and of the night. Having a high density energy storage is key to making solar panels our sole energy source, for example.
Thankfully, lithium-ion batteries, while unstable (as evidenced by the recent cases of hoverboards exploding as well as Galaxy tablets), are a really good solution for our energy storage needs. Its energy density is spectacular, and the batteries (especially the ubiquitous 18650 cells) are really inexpensive. Also, the fires caused by these types of batteries are mainly due to poor manufacturing and less than adequate sensor controls. Even perfectly safe quality checked battery packs are very cheap nowadays.
Efforts to move away from fossil fuels have been spearheaded by companies like Tesla, which has created a hotbed of innovation for battery technology. Especially after their recent purchase of SolarCity — the biggest solar panel provider in the US — things are looking up. The PowerWall is a battery pack that you can install into your home to store energy during the day, so that you may use it at night. Couple this with the new Tesla Solar Roof, and you have a wonderfully efficient, attractive setup.
The most exciting news of all this is that, in a few years, when these technology will drop in price even further, a large portion of the world that’s currently not wired with traditional electric cables will be able to “leapfrog” them and go straight to local energy production through solar panels + batteries. Sort of like mobile phones have leapfrogged landlines in up-and-coming countries like India and China.
So the future for all layers of human society appears bright, as electricity gets more and more affordable, and we move away from deadly greenhouse gases.