The nature of electricity generation and the energy grid has long been that electricity doesn’t store well or easily. You have to carefully balance supply and demand to keep the grid functioning. This problem has become ever more frustrating because of the intermittent nature of renewables like wind and solar. The intensity of the sun and wind are not subject to the whims of consumers. Sometimes they produce an excess amount of energy we can’t use (causing other generators to go offline) and sometimes they don’t produce enough.
Some suggestions for storage include pumping water to a high place with excess energy and regaining the electricity when the water is allowed to flow back down through turbines. Another suggestion is raising heavy weights on cranes. Both of these seem pretty stupid. And if you’re willing to go to those lengths, why not just invest in nuclear power plants which don’t require storage?
Now, though nuclear does appear to be a better option compared to intermittent renewables and storage; but the wind and the sun are free energy and who are we to turn the bounty of the sun away? And we require batteries for purposes beyond balancing the grid. We also need a reliable replacement to fossil fuel burning backup generators and for the electrification of transportation.
- Lithium Batteries – Lithium batteries are the ones currently revolutionizing the world. They’re in electric cars, they’re in your phone, they’re everywhere.
- Lithium battery production – China leads in battery production and storage at this time but more companies are looking to Ohio to manufacture lithium batteries in. This includes GM manufacturing its EV batteries in the state. Ohio should leverage this to develop a technological and skills edge in the technology.
- Developing and maintaining a battery technology edge will allow Ohio reassert dominance in the vehicle manufacturing industry. Electrifying billions of cars represents many opportunities for the state.
- Expand electrical and chemical engineering programs at Ohio’s public universities and provide more grants for battery technology research.
- Due to bottlenecks in production as well as limited supplies of materials, lithium batteries should be put to their best possible uses. This means electrifying transportation to eliminate the outdated and inefficient internal combustion engine first. Other battery storage technologies can be used for backup and storage on the electric grid.
- The natural end of the internal combustion engine is rapidly approaching. Biofuels like ethanol are going to be rendered worthless by the battery. This inescapable fact is central to the Dark Horse campaign. Ohio dedicates 1.5 million acres to ethanol production. 38 million acres are committed nationwide to ethanol. Ohio has only 10 million acres of farmland with lower yields than many of our western neighbors. This could be devastating to Ohio agriculture. The Dark Horse is developing a plan to respond to the inevitable consequences of the battery.
- Utility Scale Batteries – Alternatives to lithium batteries exist for adding battery backup and storage to our electric grids.
- Vanadium flow batteries are one alternative battery technology that is already being developed in Ohio. Ohio should provide more funding for research, startup capital, and act as a customer.
- Fuel Cells – Fuel cells convert a fuel into electricity. Biogas and natural gas are potential fuels and something worth investing in, at least as an alternative market for our natural gas supplies. The other primary fuel source would be hydrogen produced by electrolysis from solar power.
- Resources – Our batteries as well as the electrification of the economy in general will require many different minerals, metals, and elements than we’ve demanded in the past.
- Ohio should conduct a broad geological survey to determine what minerals are available in the state. Many valuable minerals have been overlooked in the past due to the cost and difficulty of extracting them. Should useful minerals be located, novel extraction techniques will be developed at Ohio universities for commercialization.
- But the limitations of domestic supplies necessitates that Ohio proceed to space for its natural resources. This is a top priority for the Dark Horse administration. The first to commercialize space mining, after all, will unlock unfathomable wealth.