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Can battery technology keep up with solar energy’s bright future?

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Solar power is a promising — some say an inevitable — source of energy for the future. But what happens when clouds roll in or the sun goes down?

The above infographic, from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, shines a light on the answer: solar batteries. While photovoltaic systems have become cheaper, with installation costs falling by 60 percent over the past 10 years, solar panels can’t store energy for use after dark or on overcast days.

Batteries offer one storage solution, and the sector is growing. Experts project that by 2040, the market for solar and wind energy storage will be valued at US$250 billion. That said, engineers are still working to develop the utility-scale batteries we’ll need to make widespread solar power a reality.

The future of solar power, and its promised benefits such as mitigating climate change, will depend on how well — and how quickly — battery storage can ramp up to scale. View Ensia homepage

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