Today’s wind industry, even with the necessary batteries and other grid-scale storage, is energetically sustainable, Stanford scientists say.
The worldwide demand for solar and wind power continues to skyrocket. According to the latest market statistics released by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), the cumulative global wind energy capacity in 2013 reached a total of 318,137 MW, an increase of nearly 200,000 MW in the past five years. The dramatic growth of the wind and solar industries has led utilities to begin testing large-scale energy storage technologies capable of storing surplus clean electricity and delivering it on demand when sunlight and wind are in short supply.
Now a team of Stanford researchers has looked at the “energetic cost” of manufacturing batteries and other storage technologies for the electrical grid. At issue is whether renewable energy supplies, such as wind power and solar photovoltaics, produce enough energy to fuel both their own growth and the growth of the necessary energy storage industry.