Energy storage is synonymous with batteries and storing electrical energy in batteries play a crucial role in solving the world’s energy supply requirement. Although many might argue that the first energy storage device was invented in 1800 by Volta (Volta’s Cell), the concept of batteries existed as early as 250 B.C. even before the discovery of electricity by Benjamin Franklin in 1740. In Baghdad, Afghanistan, archaeologists unearthed an assortment of terracotta jars which contained sheets of copper rolled up and an iron rod, with acidic liquid as a solution in the jar, a chemical reaction occurred thereby producing electricity. The batteries were later named “Baghdad Battery”, believed to have been used to electroplate gold into the artefacts of the Parthian Civilization.
The battery as we know it now took a series of unusual inventions, one after the other. When an Italian Physicist was dissecting a frog on a brass hook with an iron knife, the frog’s leg twitched; he believed the energy came from the leg itself. On the contrary, Alessandro Volta’s “Voltaic Pile”—wet cell battery—produced a stable and consistent current without the use of any biological materials. Although it had a short battery life and was prone to leakage, it helped in paving a pathway for future research and development.
Energy storage is an important component of manufacturing in the service industry, storage of renewable energy, and portable electronics. In high-tech industries, energy storage device provides an uninterruptible power source of constant frequency. Flywheels and ultra-capacitors are also finding application for grid frequency regulation in critical applications, as utilities commonly vary the frequency to smoothen the power output. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, cannot be the sole provider of energy without an associated energy storage facility. Even when they are an on-grid system, a storage device is required to smoothen the output frequency. When the input into the grid from renewable sources exceeds about 10%, energy storage will be required. A large storage facility could also ameliorate the need for intermittent power generation sources to cover peak demand.
The final word on the degree of penetration of energy storage in the transportation and grid sectors will be political, but technology can win out if all else is equal. This visionary technology has won in the field of portable electronics; this vision could lead to a completely new environmentally sensitive and cost-effective scenario in the future. Scientists, inventors, and battery companies are continually working to discover new ways and resources to store electricity. The process of finding ways to generate energy is probably never-ending. Therefore, it is best to keep our eyes open for progress, innovation, and ingenuity.