These new battery technologies could be the future of energy storage

These novel batteries technologies could be the future of energy storage

Over the past decade, prices for solar panels and wind farms have reached all-time lows. As the saying goes though, the wind isn't always blowing and the sun isn't always shining.

The question of how to "firm" renewables — that is, ensuring there's always enough saved energy no matter the time of day or weather — is one of the biggest challenges in the industry. We need a good way to store energy for later. The go-to option right now is lithium ion batteries.

But, though lithium ion is dropping in price, experts say it will remain too expensive for most grid-scale applications. Right now, lithium ion batteries just can't store more than four hours worth of energy at a price point that would make sense. Plus, they pose a fire risk and their ability to hold a charge fades over time.

Companies are experimenting with a variety of different solutions, including flow batteries, thermal batteries, and gravity-based systems. If any of these player can crack the code to long-duration energy storage, renewables like wind and solar will finally be able to compete with fossil fuels.