Solar power needs a low-cost battery storage solution and blockchain technology will help solve part of the problem as the electrification of transportation accelerates. Many people are aware that the cost of solar power has declined dramatically during the past decade and offers investors a very high return on investment. Logically, one might conclude that renewable energy (such as solar and wind) can eventually cover virtually all of our energy needs – even transportation, as the electric car market expands. We all imagine a world where solar panels power our homes and businesses, as well as a substantial portion of our transportation network. That all sounds great, but there’s one big obstacle – the problem of intermittence – the fact that solar and wind don’t produce a steady and consistent flow of energy. Nuclear and natural gas power plants do provide steady production and are therefore difficult to phase out.
In order to transition to a fully renewable energy future, which is the key to fighting climate change, we need to come up with low-cost battery storage technology solutions. Why? Because solar and wind don’t produce energy 24×7 – that’s the intermittence problem. That means that when solar or wind generates excess capacity, we need to find a way to store that energy. The world needs to figure out how to store solar energy produced during the daytime for use in the evenings, when residential electricity demand spikes.
In order to be globally scalable and widely adopted, energy storage needs to be much cheaper than lithium ion batteries. The good news is that there are many companies researching lower-cost energy storage technologies, such as aqueous sulfur flow batteries.
In the meantime, we’ll see an increase in residential, commercial and industrial battery storage systems using lithium ion batteries. And that’s where blockchain technology comes in handy. Blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, allows for a very efficient, safe and transparent method for owners of solar and batteries to trade electricity. Imagine a scenario where the individual owners of say, 100,000 solar + battery storage systems are able to sell their excess electricity production to other users on the grid. This will allow electricity consumers to become “prosumers,” which essentially means that individuals can become mini power plants. Such an incentive will drive further expansion of renewable energy capacity. The major setback, however, is that retail-focused blockchain applications for the renewable energy sector are not very scalable, so the growth of the market will be very slow.
At the end of the day, when people talk about battery storage for the solar sector, the main focus is on applications for utility-scale projects – projects that are 5 megawatts or larger. When a cost-effective option becomes available for utility-scale wind and solar projects, we’ll witness rapid, large-scale adoption of renewable energy. We are very optimistic about the storage sector and hope to see some major technological breakthroughs on this front in the near future.