Will US Manufacturing Lead the Way In Energy Storage?
As household items that most of us rely on daily, batteries aren’t what anyone would consider a new technology. And yet these vessels for storing energy are at the forefront of a potential industrial revolution. In fact, improving energy storage for modern applications is like an international space race for the 21st century.
Curious how this common technology is paving the way for the future? Read on to learn why energy storage is the next big thing—and how American manufacturers can heed the call to develop innovative energy storage solutions.
What Is Energy Storage?
In simplest terms, a battery is a source of electronic power or energy. Batteries are used to store energy for devices or systems that don’t have a direct power source, such as an outlet, for energy storage.
When you’re watching TV during a storm and your power goes out, the TV will shut off because it has no mechanism to store the power it was generating. Battery-powered items, like iPhones or flashlights, on the other hand, will continue to run on the stored energy that their batteries provide.
Why Is The Energy Storage Market Growing So Rapidly?
So why is energy storage development comparable to a modern-day space race? Our society is rapidly evolving to rely on newer, cleaner forms of energy, but we can’t currently generate the amount of energy we’re surely going to need in the near future.
Right now, we are seeing something like a second industrial revolution across the globe. As the world continues to industrialize, the demand for energy and electricity increases, too.
The global supply chain as it exists today isn’t prepared to accommodate this growth. Raw materials like lithium and other energy storage components aren’t as readily available as the market needs them to be.
What Are Some Emerging Applications for Energy Storage?
Energy storage is the future for many reasons—not least of which is the promise of solar energy.
Solar energy is clean energy, and it’s rapidly spreading through the U.S. and the world. By 2030, when a projected one in seven U.S. homes will have rooftop solar panels, there will be an enormous demand for energy storage for cloudy days or long winters. Currently, many homeowners who have solar panels have no supplemental method of energy storage to accompany them. Being able to store that acquired energy is a huge market opportunity.
Once homeowners have a way to store excess energy, they can then sell it back to the grid to capitalize on the investment in their solar panels. With batteries to store energy, communities can also invest in Virtual Power Plants, which will allow homes to redirect excess energy back into the grid. Virtual power plants are cleaner and less susceptible to storms and environmental damage than the aging electric grid we have today.
This demand for distributed energy systems is expected to keep growing, and it will continue to propel the market for energy storage forward in the coming years.
Another key market contributing to this demand is electric vehicles. With calls to make 50% of all new vehicles sold in 2030 electric, there will need to be enough electricity generated to keep those cars charged—and enough battery power to hold that charge and keep them running.
What Are the Opportunities for U.S. Manufacturers?
The escalating need for energy storage presents unique opportunities for manufacturers. America may not be leading the race for energy storage quite yet, but there are plenty of untapped opportunities for U.S. manufacturers to leverage.
China, to its credit, has amassed a vast lithium supply and is currently manufacturing most of the battery cells in the world. But concerns about ESG standards and human rights violations—not to mention overseas supply chain disruptions and IP considerations—are driving a recent trend to reshore supply chain operations.
These reshoring efforts could take a few different paths. The U.S. could invest in ethical lithium mining to tap into the market that China currently has cornered. Or, domestic manufacturers could begin buying battery components and assembling them domestically to meet energy storage needs.
As a machine shop in the Houston area leading efforts to reshore supply chain operations, Alchemy Industrial is currently pursuing the latter opportunity. We’re excited for what the future holds, and look forward to working alongside other manufacturers to heed the call for energy storage solutions.
If you’re interested in reshoring your supply chain for energy storage or other applications, contact us today!