Energy storage is a topic on the lips of engineers all over the world, including the ones with the big money like Elon Musk and Bill Gates. Everyone is looking for the next energy breakthrough and the notoriety of redesigning electricity consumption. The United States’ Department of Energy claims they have the answer to the question mark of energy storage. The department says it has acquired the ‘holy grail’ of energy.
A subsidiary company of the Department of Energy, Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (Arpa-E) have reportedly made a landmark discovery. They announced this at the Energy Innovation Summit that took place in Maryland on the 29th of February and concluded on the 2nd of March.
In the next ten years, Arpa-E plans to transform America’s electrical grid, says Dr Elen Williams, the company’s director. Engineers were put to work after President Barack Obama announced funding for the project, and those engineers claim to have “new designs for batteries, and new chemistries which are rapidly bringing down the costs of energy,” Williams explained. As of yet there are no physical examples of the ‘holy grail’ technology they have developed, but will be piquing the interest of companies like Tesla, who have been attempting to build their own energy storage unit called Powerwall.
Australia’s Clean Energy Council is also looking for the definitive answer to battery storage. In a recently published paper by the CEC – called Accelerating the Uptake of Battery Storage – the group call for the unlocking of “the full value of storage” for commercial markets but put emphasis on “integrity and safety” of the engineers and the customers that will make use of battery storage.
Safety of the battery storage industry currently booming in countries like America and Australia. In episode 2 of the Engineering News Network (ENN), Dr Steve Mackay, Dean at the Engineering Insitute of Technology, puts the current issues into perspective. He says, “First of all the price of lithium is rising rapidly, supply is not keeping up with demand. Battery energy storage costs are falling as technogy improves. Government is not sure where to go so they are jumping all over the place and training is not certified at this stage.”
PV-Magazine claims that currently installers are not regulated, thus, they do not need “qualifications” or “sufficient competency for the installment” of battery storage devices.
What would an installer need in terms of qualifications and competency? Dr Steve Mackay details what training should occur and what needs to be considered with the oncoming wave of battery storage. He said in the ENN video, “With training, not only do you need to have basic electrical theory, you need to look at safe working with photovoltaic cells, batteries, connecting to the grid – which is also interesting – and finally the financial and economic aspects of connecting to the grid.”