Myth: It is impossible to build enough battery storage to power our civilization with clean energy

 |  6 May 2024

False. Our previous research has shown that long-term seasonal energy storage is not required in order to meet 100% of existing electricity demand.

Our current research confirms that weeks or months of energy storage is not a requirement for the electrification of transportation and heating. Most geographic regions need only a few days' worth of battery energy storage.

Several days' worth of energy storage for the entire planet is still an extremely large quantity of batteries, but it is well within the range of what is feasible to produce over the next two decades as the disruptions proceed. Once the batteries are produced, their stock can largely be recycled over time. This means the raw materials requirement for battery stock will exhibit a large one-time pulse during the initial build out, followed by a much lower requirement for ongoing upkeep.

Explore the evidence...

  • Both storage and generation of SWB is 100% possible in all regions. Nowhere on the planet have we found a place that needed more than a few days of storage. A 100% SWB system would also naturally produce a very large quantity of near-zero marginal cost SWB Superpower. Watch Tony Seba explain this in more detail in this video
  • Policymakers, investors, civic leaders and the general public are under the false impression that it is impossible for solar photovoltaics and wind power to supply 100% of a country's electricity without weeks’ worth of battery energy storage.

  • A key highlight of our analysis is that generation and storage capacity can be traded off against one another within the space of possible 100% SWB systems, according to the convex U-shaped cost function that we call the Clean Energy U-Curve.

    • As adoption of SWB grows, these technologies will produce an increasingly large surplus of energy at near-zero marginal cost that we call Clean Energy Super Power - or SWB Superpower for short. This is because the system’s generating and storage capacities must be designed to fully meet electricity demand during the most challenging times of year, such as the cloudy weeks of winter when the days are shortest. As a result these systems are able to produce much more power throughout the rest of the year.

    • Read more about the Clean Energy U-Curve and SWB Superpower on p20-22 of our Rethinking Energy report.

  • The amount of battery energy storage required to support a 100% SWB system is much lower than is widely believed.

Witness the transformation

Our research confirms that most geographic regions need only a few days' worth of battery energy storage, making an entirely electrified system of energy possible.

Learn more about the disruption and transformation of the energy sector.

Published on: 12/07/23

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