Pete Slater / Flickr Conventional rechargeable batteries.

Better Batteries, Better World

Why Improved Energy Storage Will Matter More than Fracking and Renewable Energy

Believe it or not, the electric storage battery -- a technology that has been around since the eighteenth century -- could change the economic course of the twenty-first century. Thanks to breakthroughs on the horizon, batteries qualify as one of 12 disruptive technologies that the McKinsey Global Institute has identified as part of a recent report on innovations that will change the way the world works. Each game-changing technology could affect hundreds of millions of people, create hundreds of billions of dollars a year in economic value, and reconfigure large sectors of the global economy. Advanced batteries, for their part, have the potential to shape global demand for fossil fuels, increase the use of renewables in the electric grid, bring reliable electric power to businesses in developing economies, and extend electricity -- and therefore access to the modern world -- to millions of the world’s poorest.

All told, energy storage could have as much as $635 billion a year in economic impact, which is a measurement of the value created by the use of a technology as well as the revenue that it generates for the companies that produce it. Value to users includes improved performance, better costs, greater convenience, time savings, and other benefits. The total value that we estimate could be created annually in 2025 by energy storage -- mostly achieved through fuel savings -- is almost equivalent to the GDP of Saudi Arabia and more than the potential estimated impact for such high-profile developments as 3-D printing, hydraulic fracturing,

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