Renewable energy can never and will never be deployed at grid scale nationwide until sufficient capacity is available to store the energy until it is needed. Baseline power like coal and natural gas is steady and 24/7. Renewable energy fluctuates and thus can produce power when it isn’t needed, hence the need for grid scale storage.
Currently, roughly 12.1 percent of the US’s energy comes from wind, solar and other renewable sources, while the national grid has a storage capacity of only one percent.
Storage will have to come from batteries. However battery technology generally still can’t handle the huge number of charges cycles needed for equipment that will need to be installed for decades. Two other types of storage, pumped hydro,compressed energy air storage, and molten salt for solar thermal can only be deployed in very specific geographic areas and aren’t a general solution.
Barnhart said: “I would like our study to be a call to arms for increasing the cycle life of electrical energy storage. It’s really a basic conservative principal: The longer something lasts, the less energy you’re going to use. You can buy a really well-made pair of boots that will last five years, or a shoddy pair that will last only one.”