The Path to Drawdown: Energy Storage
On the path to electrify everything, we need more renewable energy sources. But what’s also needed are energy storage systems and batteries. Because the two dominant sources of renewable energy - solar and wind - are intermittent (they only generate electricity when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing), their supply often don’t match their demand.
The conventional way of supplying power when the demand for electricity peaks is for utility companies to fire up “peaker” plants. But most peakers operate on natural gas and are highly polluting.
A wider adoption of utility-scale and distributed energy storage systems is the solution. Utility-scale energy storage is the use of technologies and practices to store energy on a large scale, often managed by utility, industrial and power companies. Distributed storage systems are smaller and use standalone batteries and electric vehicles (EVs) to store energy. Distributed systems are usually managed at the level of residential and commercial buildings.
Neither of these solutions directly help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they both facilitate the development of more renewable energy sources and ultimately smooth the transition in the energy system.
While Project Drawdown doesn’t model the growth of energy storage so as to avoid double-counting with renewable energy solutions, it’s clear that their production and adoption need to accelerate, and their cost needs to fall around the world will accelerate the shift to a zero-emission grid.