June 17, 2010
Experts like to tell us that solar and wind power can never be our main sources of energy because they are “unreliable.” Solar doesn’t help you at night, and wind power is useless on still days. That problem could be solved if large scale batteries were inexpensive. My question is this: What is so expensive about making batteries.
Consider our existing battery technologies. Do most of the costs of existing batteries come from the raw materials in them? Is making batteries an especially difficult manufacturing process? Is the real cost from the fact that batteries don’t last long and there’s no cheap way to recycle? Are batteries expensive to ship because of their weight? Would they simply take up too much room? Or is it all of those things?
What would it take to drive down the cost of existing battery technology until mass storage of solar and wind energy was economical? I’m fascinated by the fact that I don’t know the answer to that question.
Here are some batteries that you can buy today to live off the grid with solar power. It’s not clear to me how many of these you’d need to string together for a typical home. I’m guessing it would take up the equivalent of one parking bay in your garage.
Do any of you know why existing batteries are so expensive?