What is the Faraday Challenge? Your Quick Guide

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

There’s been much spoken in recent times about how we can improve battery storage for renewable energy systems like solar and wind. It’s undoubtedly the next big challenge and one which many countries, including the UK, are working hard to tackle.

The Faraday Challenge at a glance:

  • It was introduced by the Government to boost research and development in the area of electric vehicle batteries.
  • Despite it’s focus on cars, there will be real knock on potential for battery storage across a whole range of sectors including renewable power such as solar and wind.
  • The challenge is worth £246 million in grants and awards, all designed to put the UK at the forefront of battery development.
  • The first part of the challenge is a £45 million award to create a battery institute which will make technology more accessible and affordable.

The Big Battery Conundrum

While the Faraday Challenge is set to focus on car batteries, the issue of effective and efficient storage is seen as one of the biggest challenges for clean energy over the next decade or so. Nowhere is this more important than in intermittent technologies such as solar and wind. Essentially, when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, you don’t get any power production. There’s also the problem that the vast majority of solar energy is available mostly during the day rather than at night when it is really needed.

If you could collect all that power and store it in batteries, this would go a along way to improving the viability and effectiveness of many renewable technologies. This is an area that we can expect to develop rapidly over the next decade or so, simply because it’s vital in order to provide a stable and reliable energy infrastructure.

At the moment we are highly reliant on lithium-ion batteries for storage but with better research and development, as well as investment in key areas, this is likely to change and do so rapidly. According to Time magazine:

“Perhaps the biggest open question for energy storage remains how much—and where—the market will grow in the coming years—whether lithium ion batteries will keep their place as the top way of storing electricity. Hydrogen storage, molten salt and other forms of batteries all offer alternatives that have received significant investment in recent years.”

It’s doubtful that by the end of the next decade we will be using lithium-ion batteries, particularly when it comes to large scale storage. Researchers are already working with different materials in the hope of producing more efficient storage. That includes using sodium, zinc and bromide solutions. Lithium is likely to become more expensive as time goes on and raw materials are unable to keep up with supply demands so alternatives will be needed.

It’s not certain if the Faraday Challenge is going to radically transform the landscape for battery R&D in the UK and these are still early days. But it does show that the Government is focused on an important area of development and keen to be a major market player. It’s a race that every country is involved in, however, and there are some pretty big competitors including China and the USA.

Find out more about battery storage on our main site.

The Benefits of Offshore Wind Energy

Offshore Wind

More and more people have heard of clean energy and wind energy but wonder if such an energy solution could benefit them or their communities. Information is available to support many of the benefits of offshore wind energy and wind energy farms. Offshore wind energy may also serve to improve the health of local residents and supply new jobs to the area, in addition to being a better energy choice for the environment.

How Maryland Uses Wind Energy

Two offshore wind projects were approved near the Ocean City coastline in Maryland. The projects are projected to produce enough clean energy to provide electricity to 147,000 Maryland homes. These two projects will allow Maryland to cut its carbon emissions by as much as 19,000 tons every year. Unfortunately, Maryland is ranked fifth in the country when it comes to adult asthma and many children are afflicted. This may be linked to the air pollution in the area. Offsetting carbon emissions by supplementing tradition energy sources with wind energy in the state may serve to improve the health of adults and children affected by pollution-related health problems and improve the air quality for all Maryland residents.

An investment into offshore wind energy will make for 9,700 new jobs, help Maryland become a leader for the offshore wind industry along the Atlantic, and provide Maryland residents with a clean energy source that may be used for generations to come. Wind power is one of the clean energy alternatives being embraced around the world.

Going Green

Wind power is a green energy solution to the world’s continued demand for energy to power homes, businesses, transportation and the most common of appliances. Traditional sources of energy, such as oil and coal, produce potentially toxic by-products in their extraction and processing. Additional fuel is used when the refined products are transported for use. The harnessing of wind energy does not produce additional pollution or result in dangerous chemical by-products that may seep into the groundwater or damage the surrounding ecosystem. No climate gases are emitted when electricity is produced via a wind turbine. This makes wind energy, like geothermal and solar energy, attractive clean energy sources for many communities.

Exceeding Our Needs

If communities and residents get behind the potential of wind power, it can provide 20 times more power than what is needed for the current human population. This efficient energy source is growing at a rate of 25 percent annually and operational cost of turbines are low. Wind power has great domestic potential as residents can be protected from power outages and enjoy energy savings.

Wind Energy Is Renewable

Traditional sources of energy rely upon non-renewable resources. As the human population grows, so will the demand for energy which adds further pressure and reduces the amount of finite resources. In comparison, wind energy cannot be depleted. Wind occurs naturally and is due to nuclear fusion processes happening on the sun. Wind energy will be able to be captured and harnessed to produce electricity for as long as the sun continues to shine.

The Future, and the Potential

Good-paying jobs are created with the investment into wind energy, as can be seen in the projects approved in Maryland. Wind turbine technician was named as the “fasted growing American job of the decade” according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statisticians. In 2016, over 100,000 people were employed in the U.S. wind sector. The wind industry has the potential to add many more jobs across various areas including supporting services, installation, maintenance and manufacturing. States with high unemployment rates may greatly benefit from investment into wind energy solutions.

The costs associated with harnessing wind power have greatly decrease but some sites are not suitable for a wind farm or off shore wind energy solution. It may be necessary to build in remote locations to take advantage of a good wind site. Noise pollution and the visual sight of wind turbines may be factors for some. Community planners and residents must consider all of the benefits and challenges when it comes to taking advantage of wind-generated electricity prior to any investment into this clean energy option.