The US should Invest in Battery Technology to Reduce Dependence on Fossil Fuels
Matt Metz 09/14/19
The United States, and the world in general, would
be much better off if we could just develop the technology to store
produced electricity effectively and efficiently.
Why? Because without the ability to store produced
electricity, we must build the capacity to meet peak demand.
Analogy to understand peak demand and manufacturing capacity
To understand, let’s consider the manufacturers of
Christmas tree bulbs. Let’s say that each year, people want to buy
Do Christmas tree bulb manufacturers try to build
all 36 million bulbs during the holiday season, which is when people will
be buying them? Of course not! The manufacturers build the bulbs about
equally throughout the year at a rate of about 36,000,000 divided by 12
months per year divided by 30 days per month, or about 100,000 per day ON
AVERAGE. The 100,000 bulbs built each day January through November are
stored in warehouses waiting for the Christmas season. Then, when people
will order them, they are pulled from the warehouses and shipped to the
The bulb manufacturers only need to build a
factory capable of producing 100,000 bulbs per day. It would make no sense
for them to build a factory capable of producing all 36 million bulbs in a
single month (the PEAK DEMAND), because it would take an expensive and
enormous factory and that expensive and enormous factory would sit idle
for eleven months of every year.
This idea of building bulbs evenly throughout the
year (an AVERAGE RATE), for a PEAK DEMAND in December, works because bulbs
can be stored; they don’t go bad and they don’t expire.
In other words, we can supply bulbs from either
CAPACITY (factories) or from STOCK (warehouses). The more warehouses you
have, the fewer factories you need!
But electricity generated by our utilities is not
like bulbs. Today, we have no effective and efficient way to store
electricity produced today which isn’t needed by our customers until three
hours from now, or three days from now, or three months from now.
So our utility
companies don’t have the option of building small “electricity factories”
(such as hydroelectric dams, coal-powered generating stations, nuclear
generators, photovoltaic farms, etc.) and running them evenly throughout
the year. They don’t have “electricity warehouses” (“batteries” is the
term we use for electricity storage devices) to store up today’s
production for consumption by consumers next week; so they have to build
electricity factories large enough to meet the peak demand caused by air
conditioners running at 4:00 p.m. on September 15th in Phoenix,
What would happen if we COULD take electricity
produced by our generating stations, and store it in battery warehouses?
This would allow the factories to work steadily – at much lower rates –
and store unused electricity for consumption at peak demand times.
Using information from the United States
Information Energy Agency, we can learn the total demand for generated
electricity in the United States, and calculate the average hourly rate at
which our utilities (electricity factories) need to run throughout the
year. It turns out if we could produce electricity evenly through the
year, we would need only 47% of our current generating capacity
We also know our total generating capacity (our
electricity “factories”) is comprised of both
generators (using coal, gas, and other petroleum-based products) and
based generators (hydroelectric dams, nuclear generators, solar panels,
wind turbines, etc.).
In this “produce electricity evenly throughout
the year” scenario, if we keep all our
capacity, we could eliminate about 75% of our current fossil-fuel-based
In other words, if we
could just store (“warehouse”) electricity produced by utilities, we could
eliminate 75% of our current fossil-fuel-based generating stations. That
would allow us to shut down ALL coal-based and petroleum product-based
electricity production, relying exclusively on relatively clean natural
gas to fill the gap left by our
We could eliminate 75% of the fossil-fuels
currently consumed to generate electricity if we could effectively store
electricity generated by utilities. Therefore, we should focus our efforts
and resources on developing effective battery technology.
Doing this will significantly reduce the pollution, climate change, and other adverse side-effects of our reliance on fossil-fuels.
Let's invest in battery technology instead of
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