Day: February 8, 2021

What New Batteries Mean For Renewable Energy

The 2020s are expected to be good for green energy. At the 2010’s end, renewables powered the equivalent of 43.5 million homes in America. Solar and wind generated tens of billions in investments and hundreds of thousands of jobs each. By 2025, the global industry for renewables is predicted to reach $1.5 trillion. If it happens, that will be incredible growth over a very short timespan.

While governments are supporting this growth, many strides are demand driven. Over 70% of Americans think clean energy should be prioritized. Half would purchase green energy for their personal consumption if given the option, and nearly all of that half would be willing to pay an average of $15 more per month for that privilege.

Climate awareness is motivating this choice; three quarters of Americans want to reduce pollution and provide a better life for future generations. On the economic side, 58% of Americans also think renewable energy will improve the economy, and nearly half think wind or solar will be cheaper than coal by 2028.

renewable energy

How will companies be able to fulfill demand for clean energy? The most important thing for them to invest in is batteries. Most renewable energy sources can’t be captured at all times. Solar energy has to be captured during the day, while wind energy is captured when it’s windy outside.

However, consumers use electricity during nights and still days as well. Power-generated at one time needs to be stored for when it’s needed another time. Right now, that is not happening. As of 2019, less than 5% of behind-the-meter solar systems included a battery.

So what’s been happening instead? Up until recently, net metering has been a popular practice for homeowners with solar panels. Residential solar sells excess power to their utility company on days when they generate more than they need. Utility companies dislike this system because they say it allows homeowners to use their infrastructure at no cost.

In 43 states, changes to residential solar regulations are likely to bring an end to net metering. As the practice is phased out, homeowners with solar panels will need a power storage system for their investment to be viable. In other words, they want a battery.

Batteries fill the gap for renewable energy on all fronts. Residential buildings store energy for evening use and backup power, industrial sites can reduce power waste from energy production exceeding consumption, and telecoms can have backup power at cell towers and data centers to increase data security. Everyone benefits from adding a battery to their renewable power system.

However, renewables shouldn’t just use any battery. Right now, the most popular battery type is lithium-ion. These batteries were first invented in 1912. They have not undergone drastic change in the 109 years since. Today, they fuel everything from smartphones to electric vehicles. Next year, lithium-ion batteries are expected to fuel 61% of demand.

Unfortunately, lithium-ion batteries suffer from several limitations that make them a poor fit for power storage. For starters, these batteries don’t last long in terms of storage and full discharging will only result in even shorter lifespan. From a safety perspective, these batteries may also explode or catch fire while in use or after disposal.

lithium ion battery

Even worse, lithium-ion batteries are not environmentally sustainable. Both production and extraction abuse the water supply, leading to dry farms and contaminated bodies of water. Variation in materials makes recycling lithium-ion batteries a difficult, costly endeavor. Lithium-ion batteries are still the best choice for mobile applications, but they should not be used for energy storage.

Instead, green energy companies should consider vanadium flow batteries for their energy storage needs. Unlike lithium-ion batteries, vanadium flow batteries don’t degrade anywhere near as quickly. With annual maintenance, they have over 25 years of useful life, during which they can be fully charged and discharged throughout.

Vanadium flow batteries are also a safer alternative because they are non-flammable and non-explosive. Most importantly, they are a sustainable choice for batteries. 100% of electrolyte in a vanadium flow battery is reusable in a new battery. Recycled vanadium is every bit as functional as freshly mined vanadium, too. The future is not just in green energy, but green batteries as well.

The Modern Energy Market

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Google-backed Dailyhunt and Josh’s parent firm raises over $100 million

VerSe Innovation, the parent firm of popular news and entertainment app Dailyhunt and short video app Josh, said on Monday it has raised over $100 million as part of a Series H financing round from Qatar Investment Authority and Glade Brook Capital Partners.

The announcement follows another $100 million+ investment the startup secured from Google, AlphaWave, and Microsoft in December last year. That tranche of investment, also part of Series H, had turned Dailyhunt into a unicorn (giving it a valuation of $1 billion or higher). The startup has to-date raised about $430 million.

Dailyhunt, co-run by Virendra Gupta and former Facebook India head Umang Bedi, is a popular news and entertainment app that serves more than 285 million users each day in 14 local languages in India. Its reach in India, the world’s second largest internet market, would explain why Twitter last month partnered with the Indian firm to bring Moments to Dailyhunt.

VerSe Innovation expanded to short form videos last year, with Josh, after New Delhi banned TikTok and created a theoretical void for snacking content in the country. Scores of large giants and startups — including MX Player and ShareChat — have attempted to try their hand at short form videos in the recent quarters.

Facebook launched Instagram Reels in India last year, and YouTube launched Shorts, which is already garnering over 3.5 billion daily views in India, it said last month. (With over 450 million users in India, YouTube is closing in on WhatsApp’s market lead in India.)

Josh appears to have emerged as one of the leading players: The startup says Josh has amassed over 85 million monthly active users — 40 million of whom check the app each day — and the app sees more than 1.5 billion video plays everyday.

Now the startup says it is exploring expansion into more categories and like with Dailyhunt and Josh, cater users in smaller cities and towns and eventually replicate this model in international markets.

India’s internet economy is expected to be worth $639 billion by 2030, analysts at Citi wrote in a report to clients late last month. The coronavirus pandemic accelerated digital adoption and users’ appetite to transact online, a report from analysts at UBS said last week.

India leads with Tier 2 cities comparable to Tier 1. Biggest catch up opportunity in Philippines and Vietnam (UBS)

“Josh represents a confluence of India’s top 200+ best creators, the 10 biggest music labels, 15+ million UGC creators, best in class content creation tools, the hottest entertainment formats, and formidable user demographics. Josh has been consistently rated as the leading Indian short-video app in India on the Play store,” the startup said in a statement.

The startup said it will deploy the fresh capital to broaden its local languages content offering, and expand its creators ecosystem and AI and ML tech stacks.