Battery technology and sustainability

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Battery technology is essential to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. But they must be more sustainable and easily disposable.

Renewable energy must replace fossil fuels. Damage from coal has set the world on a dangerous path, worsening the climate crisis.

Battery technology has evolved significantly over the years. These innovations have gone from operating on small scales to powering entire networks.

Now, batteries are a critical part of the sustainability conversation.

Sustainability is evolving. It takes the form of many different practices and ideas that businesses and consumers alike can partake in.

Efficiency

Renewable energy is perhaps the most common example of sustainability — it’s powerful and effective on small and large scales.

Through the use of photovoltaic (PV) panels, solar energy is converted into electricity for residents or industries.

However, it’s always critical to find ways to improve existing setups.

Battery technology is one of the ways that experts can improve eco-friendliness for sustainable energy ventures.

The key is storage. Energy can still go to waste even with the greenest technology — which is why having batteries as a power source will improve that efficiency.

Flow

Renewable energy must replace fossil fuels. Damage from coal has set the world on a dangerous path, worsening the climate crisis.

The concept of having less than 12 years to act is now something that’s part of the main conversation.

While renewable sources like solar and wind are powerful in their own right to help the environment, batteries can bring them to a new production level.

PV panels may not have the storage capacity to hold all the energy when converting solar power into electricity. When power goes to waste, it brings the sustainability level of renewables down a notch.

However, batteries can provide a consistent flow of energy, as well as storage. That way, the PV panels put more power to use instead of losing it.

Pollution

Many PV panels operate on energy grids, especially for residential areas.

Combining them with battery power creates a more reliable power source. If the panels fail, the battery and its energy storage step in and keep providing electricity.

In 2018, the transportation sector contributed to 28 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions — the most of any field. This cannot continue if the climate crisis is to be brought under control.

Fortunately, manufacturers and car companies have been working on solutions for years now. With the success of Tesla’s electric vehicles, a new wave of green cars and trucks is emerging.

Batteries can drastically reduce the percentage of emissions that the transportation sector puts out. Electric cars can put a huge dent in the reliance on fossil fuels and the pollution resulting from their use.

Landfills

One obstacle here is the low number of charging stations available for consumer use. Without them, consumers won’t have the resources to switch to electric, battery-powered vehicles.

Battery power will also lead to other clean innovations for transportation. For instance, hydrogen fuel-cell cars convert hydrogen into energy. Many operate with a battery, using two efficient forms of power to transform vehicles into green innovations. 

While batteries are critical for revolutionizing renewable energy and all forms of sustainability, they still need some improvements.

Some batteries have the potential to overheat. This potential threat requires cooling techniques that keep them from breaking down, causing damage and becoming waste.

E-waste occurs when an excessive amount of technology, in any form, goes to landfills. That buildup can damage ecosystems and the environment since some tech has harmful components.

Systems

Three of the most dangerous components in batteries are acid, lead and nickel.

If consumers and companies don’t dispose of them properly, then the harmful materials can seep into ground and water supplies. This can negatively impact human health, as well as animal and plant life.

Solutions entail extracting the important or toxic parts of batteries and recycling them. This decreases the amount of e-waste and the harm it causes.

Another solution is to use different materials when creating batteries. One new idea is to incorporate seawater, which is a sustainable source of its own.

After creating plans to integrate batteries into renewable energy and electric vehicles, companies can begin to focus on ensuring everything is as sustainable as possible.

Improvements to standard batteries will bring them to their fullest, green potential — aiding in making the systems they support all the more eco-friendly as well.

This Author

Emily Folk is a conservation and sustainability writer and the editor of Conservation Folks.

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