Imagine if we get the electricity grid right.

It is the year 2050, in Boca Chica, Texas, and out the window you can see a silent shuttle departing for Mars, powered by 100% renewable energy. After achieving net-zero carbon-neutrality, the space travel industry took off- our electricity grid now runs entirely off of solar and wind. Now with new carbon capture techniques, we are removing the emissions we generated in the last century.

It looks like humans will save the planet, after all.

When we look back through the decades, at the advent and growth of our renewable energy journey, there is one simple thing that changed the future for us–building energy storage. This progress was fueled by President Biden’s $4.5 trillion plan for energy infrastructure, which now generates $6 trillion annually with reduced air pollution, better health and lower environmental damage.

Now, we have more than 100 TWh of energy storage, distributed geographically throughout the globe at about 300 million sites across all 7 continents.

Fundamentally, each of these sites is a tiny microgrid– battery storage with rooftop solar panels, and a band of dynamic storage capacity of electric cars. Most of the energy is locally generated and stored, and through years of collected data, our smart appliances flex our energy usage to match the intermittency of renewables. This new energy infrastructure has a manageable electricity distribution that doesn’t infringe on the forests to cause wildfire catastrophes.

It was not just the technology that drove this golden era of energy–the initiatives for equitable participation of all communities accelerated this movement. In the early 21st century, it was clear to businesses that long term value generation comes from building sustainable products, but the sentiment of building equity in energy access was a newly-founded one.

This need built a new generation of entrepreneurs, who did not bifurcate their core values with business.

At the onset of electric vehicles and their ensuing power decentralization, these businesses understood that historically new technologies first touch privileged lives, and that those who lack basic resources couldn’t afford to care about saving the environment. However, with the discretized and distributed nature of renewable energy and storage, an opportunity was seized to bring climate justice to the table. Participation of these historically ignored communities in the new energy economy brought more diverse voices, more innovation, and blazing progress to our fight against the changing climate.

Together, we built an all inclusive energy economy, where generation of material wealth is sustainable for the planet, and is distributed with equity.

This is the third post in a recurring series of ElectricFish insights around the transition to a modern electricity infrastructure. Stay tuned for our upcoming posts!

Credits

Social Wealth Partners — www.socialwealthpartners.org

References

https://energy.mit.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/MITEI-The-Future-of-the-Electric-Grid.pdf

Elon Musk — The Tesla Powerwall- Keynote — YouTube

https://www.wsj.com/articles/whats-next-for-the-energy-grid-11581645094

https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2017/06/f34/Challenges_and_Opportunities_of_Grid_Modernization_and_Electric_Transportation.pdf

https://www.irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/Publication/2018/Apr/IRENA_Report_GET_2018.pdf

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2020/07/30/biden-calls-100-percent-clean-electricity-by-2035-heres-how-far-we-have-go/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnparnell/2019/06/27/cost-of-decarbonizing-u-s-power-grid-put-at-4-5-trillion/?sh=7e5c8ab48142

https://www.vox.com/a/weather-climate-change-us-cities-global-warming

https://www.opb.org/article/2021/02/18/wave-energy-oregon-test-facility-lease/

Co-Founder - ElectricFish | Ex- ORNL, BMW, Volvo-Trucks | Ignite- Stanford GSB | MSME - Michigan Tech | BSME - BIT Mesra

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