Capturing the potential of renewable energy on National Battery Day
Today is National Battery Day. There is no Hallmark card for it, but it’s still a day that deserves our recognition.
Lead batteries are the unsung heroes that power our economy. They provide 75 percent of the world’s rechargeable energy storage needs. Most Americans are familiar with a lead battery from its earliest and most popular use – the power source to start the engine in cars, trucks, and boats. But the humble lead battery has been reliably doing its job for more than a century, even as other battery chemistries come and go. Lead batteries are being adapted to new uses to power our economy and support the electrical grid.
Today, the largest market for lead batteries is still automotive use, including advanced systems like HEVs and start-stop technology. Lead batteries are also used for many industrial applications, like material handling and reserve power. You may be surprised to learn that industrial lead batteries are also the leading energy backup source for telecommunication, data centers and other industries where an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) is essential. It’s therefore been a natural evolution to build on lead battery reliability as a critical storage source for renewables like windmills and solar panels.
With energy, the challenge is pretty simple: Use it, store it, or lose it. As the need for energy storage in electricity networks becomes increasingly important, the race is on for which battery chemistry will meet the challenges created by the surge in wind and solar markets. It makes sense that lead batteries have gained a foothold – they provide high quality, reliability and lower cost. Unlike fossil fuels used for electricity generation, renewables can’t be scheduled to start and stop to meet electricity demand, and may be considered unreliable when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. Lead batteries help to reduce those power fluctuations and increase the reliability of an even distribution of power at an affordable cost.