The challenge faced by clean solar energy is that the sun doesn't shine at night. Energy storage is the holy grail of the clean energy disruption. Batteries are the simplest off-the-shelf technology available for the residential energy market. But batteries can be dirty, dangerous, and sometimes toxic.
Imagine storing solar energy in a battery that is recyclable, has zero risk of corrosion, contains zero toxic materials, is non-flammable, and requires no maintenance. Now imagine that this battery stored energy from the sun in salt water.
Well, that product may be here. The most exciting and innovative product I saw at this year's Greenbuild International Expo, the world's largest green building show, was a salt water battery from Aquion. Sure, every week I see a new and wild claim of a miracle battery made of potatoes, bananas, strawberries, or even . . . pee.
But Aquion is different. They've taken simple ingredients that are available almost everywhere in the world and created a high-performing, safe, sustainable, and cost-effective battery capable of competing with stationary lithium ion or lead acid batteries. The batteries use magnesium oxide, synthetic cotton, carbon, and saltwater contained in a reusable and recyclable plastic case.
Most impressively, they are Cradle-to-Cradle certified. A spokesperson for Aquion told me that they are now seeking one of the strictest and most transparent product certifications, the Declare Label from the International Living Future Institute. Fast Company recently listed Aquion as one of the ten most innovative energy products of 2015.
The batteries are big and bulky. Don't expect to power your cell phone or your car with salt-water any time soon. Nevertheless, they are perfect for stationary storage in a home, business or large scale micro-grid or utility storage.
I'm one of the many who are bullish on renewable energy with battery storage in every home. It is clear that the race is on and prices are dropping rapidly on battery storage. Aquion is a welcome player in the field and it is the first to promise a solution that is as clean and non-toxic as the renewable energy that it promises to store.
California has incentives for residential energy storage that include tax credits, tax deductions, and direct cash incentives. The cost of solar energy and battery storage has dropped low enough that it is becoming very attractive to homeowners to unplug from their utility company. As the trend continues, within the next few years it will be cheaper to become your own energy producer than it will be to keep buying it from a central utility monopoly.
Aquion just made a distributed and more democratic energy supply a bit easier. I can't wait to see what's next.