The future, it seems, is now -- at least in Lancaster, California, the eighth largest city in sunny Los Angeles County and one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. What better place -- thought the heads of KH Homes, an American home builder, and BYD, a China-based maker of batteries -- to construct a solar-powered, smog-reducing home of the future? The result of the two companies' efforts is a trailblazing design for energy-efficient homes.
Fluidic Energy, an Arizona-based based company, is in the process of developing a storage battery capable of holding enough energy to be used for industrial projects. Now, it appears, the U.S. Department of Energy is going to chip in to help them bring this battery to the industry sooner rather than later.
A joint venture of solar panel manufacturer Suniva and storage developer GS Battery aims to bring battery back-up (but still grid-tied) solar into the limelight once again. Inefficient battery storage has encouraged small-scale solar generation to rely entirely on the grid for auxiliary power. Battery systems can cost nearly twice as much as straight grid-tied systems, depending on the needs of the system, and the batteries themselves are often not eligible for cost-reducing solar incentives. (Though beginning this year, battery systems are eligible for the 30 percent federal ITC.) They also take up a ton of space, which is something many homes and small commercial installation sites don't have on hand. The Suniva-GS system will use deep-cycle nanocarbon batteries to achieve high performance. The demo system will be 30 kw in capacity with a 3,000-amp hour battery component.
We can transform sunlight and wind into electricity. Why aren't we using these free, limitless natural resources to provide all our power? Of course the answer to that is manifold, involving a lot of words like "deployment" and "technology to scale" and "existing model" and "lobbyists". But all the little details aside, we actually couldn't use renewable resources to power ourselves fully, and the one major hurdle standing in our way is storage.