What is Energy Storage?
Ever since humans mastered energy capture, energy storage and retrieval for use at a later point of time or place has been the key pursuit in power engineering. As per Wikipedia, “Energy storage is the capture of energy produced at one time for use at a later time. A device that stores energy is generally called an accumulator or battery.”
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Why is it important?
Energy comes in multiple forms, which include radiation, chemical, gravitational, electrical, temperature, and kinetic. Energy storage technology converts energy from these forms into economically storable forms that are safe and accessible.
Energy storage systems are assuming greater importance with the increasing focus on sustainable energy (solar, wind, hydro) electric vehicles and the rapid rise in use of battery-powered electronic devices like smartphones, which has led to a surge in production of lithium-ion batteries. This makes energy storage one of the most promising upcoming sectors.
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What are the industries involved in Energy Storage?
When one thinks of Energy Storage, one immediately thinks of batteries. However, batteries are about storage and retrieval of chemical energy, but energy is of many different types. A hydroelectric dam, stores gravitational potential energy, ice storage tanks store ice frozen by cheaper energy at night to meet peak daytime demand for cooling, and fossil fuels such as coal and gasoline store ancient energy derived from sunlight, buried and over time and then converted into these forms. Industry application include power storage and distribution obviously, but also automobiles, real estate, mining, and telecom.
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Who is the field relevant for?
The demand for energy storage systems is likely to grow exponentially globally as the world shifts towards renewable energy sources. This shift will mandate both grid level and unit level energy storage systems that are of a viable size, cost, and energy efficiency. Significant research is currently being conducted on materials, engineering, and other optimisations.
The kind of backgrounds required for this field could include:
Metallurgists for analysing potential of viable materials,
Chemical engineers and chemistry graduates,
Automobile engineers interested in electric vehicle development
However, energy storage is somewhat interdisciplinary bringing together material science with expertise in the energy storage using sectors.
What are the career prospects?
Estimates by Lux Research, an independent research and advisory firm, suggest that the global industry for energy storage could be worth $100billion in the next few years.
Given the focus, demand, and growth, energy storage sector will generate significant jobs in the future. Moreover, due to the shortage of qualified professionals relative to demand, entry salary and salary growth prospects are positive.
How do I get started?
The roadmap involves an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering or material sciences with a focus on specific courses in renewable energy and energy storage.