Energy is one of the three main drivers, i.e. water, energy and natural resources, of all life forms on Earth. The sustainability of these three main drivers is a pre-request for our survival and more importantly for the survival of all forms of life on Earth (https://youtu.be/f6kwNNdOVr4), and more importantly for prosperity and improved life-quality. Unlike the other two drivers, energy conservation is of much more importance not only to satisfy our daily needs but on the first hand to cope with the many direct and indirect existential threats facing life. Also, how much energy we are consuming determines how much natural resources, including water, we would need for our activities. Energy in all its forms, either as stationary fossil or dynamic renewable resources, has complex interwoven challenges as it is strongly coupled to the social, environment and economic pillars of our modern lifestyle. Also, all energy production, distribution and uses are more or less, associated with different degrees and levels of negative impacts. Progress in energy conservation and renewable energy sources is determinant for the ongoing sustainability revolution not only to a climate-compatible circular economy, but also essential for achieving sustainable and resilient societies (UN-SDGs). We therefore need to be less dependent on fossil-fuel based-energy and to scale-up and scale-out clean and sustainable energy resources on the global scale. Renewables without appropriate affordable storage is not sustainable, we need also to have different sustainable and resilient storage alternatives for solar and wind energy solutions that can meet the different environment, weather and climate conditions. For example, limitations do exist in hot regions as in the MENA region and other parts in the world where the Li-ion batteries may not be the best choice. Also, manufacturing and production facilities need to be available where the natural raw materials for production are abundant. So, what regards batteries, one-size-fits-all option is unlikely to be sustainable and resilient under all conditions.
Moving away from fossil-fuel (coal, oil and gas) to renewable energy resources isn’t an overnight process as it is associated with many complex challenges specially what regards the huge needs of electricity generation, use and consumption, i.e. production and supply (https://youtu.be/eRz46AwPcSc). Solar and wind are becoming increasingly crucial for scaling- up and scaling-out the renewable energy resources. However, the very nature of these renewables by being intermittent sources and the fact that there is a wide-range of dynamic and variable needs by the stakeholders around the world in terms of intensity of energy needed in different applications.
One important aspect in the scaling-up and scaling-out the use of the renewable energy resources of solar and wind energy is battery-storage. Li-ion batteries, though are currently one of the best storage facilities, they still have several limitations to fulfill full scale applications that are required by the markets’ needs. Lithium-ion batteries are not necessarily the only ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for the energy storage of renewable solar and wind energies. They prone to fire and require extensive non-renewable resource extraction from the earth which may not be sustainable in the longer run because of the side-effects associated with their production and processing as well as the complete LC ‘life-cycle’ of the batteries, i.e. effective recovery of the raw materials.
An alternative new technology for energy storage is emerging in the world market. The US-based Ambri is now one of the so-far leading alternatives in energy storage and it aims to lower electricity costs, enable easy access and widespread usage of renewable energy systems, among other things. It is doing this by working on alternatives to lithium-ion technology such as liquid metal batteries and antimony electrode-based cells that are more resilient, long-lasting and eco-friendly (https://youtu.be/NiRrvxjrJ1U; https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/ril-rnsel-mukesh-ambani-ambri-renewable-energy-storage-7314091.html/amp). This liquid metal battery is an innovation in stationary electricity storage invented by Prof. Donald Sadoway, MIT, USA. At present Ambri can cater to projects that require energy storage systems from 10 MWh to 2 GWh. Energy-intensive industries need to reach climate neutrality by 2050. Various technologies are available for the decarbonisation of the iron and steel, chemicals, refining and cement industries as well as the existing financial instruments (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2020/652717/IPOL_STU(2020)652717_EN.pdf). However, suitable energy storage technologies are still needed to help shape and enhance the transition to a climate neutral industries, specially the energy-intensive ones, not only in Europe but around the world.
Energy storage is vital not just for the business of mobility but for reducing the overall cost of electricity and, more importantly, mitigating climate change. It plays an integral role in the development and integration of renewable energy technologies—a technological space that is seeing rapid development. Energy storage is an indispensable bridge between intermittent renewable power and a constant, glitch-free supply of electric energy. Achieving sustainable and resilient societies would require having diverse and customized solutions to meet an increasing need of off-grid and decentralized energy-options, e.g. in rural and remote areas for household (https://youtu.be/yxABosWfuus) and also for energy-intensive industries (https://youtu.be/m8751tkBU_Q; https://youtu.be/m8751tkBU_Q; https://www.energy-storage.news/ambris-liquid-metal-battery-to-be-used-at-desert-data-centre-in-nevada/). As this will unload overpopulated urban areas and cities. The needs of such options are timely because of the huge flexibility that is offered by ICT ‘Information Communication Technology’ and AI ‘Artificial Intelligence’ that allow not being totally dependent on urban areas and cities. Agriculture and rural areas are still essential for our living and they are the underlying platform for supporting urban areas and cities.
It is still interesting to see how this new approach of liquid metal batteries for storage of renewable energies from solar and wind will continue their long-term progress (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/davidblackmon/2021/09/02/bill-gates-backed-startup-might-change-the-renewable-energy-storage-game/amp/).