This week, we’ve looked at different types of clean energy sources and examined how they’ve helped us to reduce carbon emissions. We already have many effective tools to combat climate change, but American innovators are hard at work developing new technologies and improving those we have. 

Energy Storage

One major limiting factor for renewable energy is that we currently lack the ability to store excess energy produced by these sources to bridge the gap when renewables are not actively producing energy. The most common type of battery storage is a lithium-ion battery. That’s the type of battery used in cell phones, computers and electric cars. But these batteries require certain raw materials that are expensive and must be mined from countries with poor environmental and human rights records. 

While experts explore different approaches to this problem, an energy startup recently announced that it had built an iron-based battery. This would enable us to store large amounts of electricity at a low price and make renewable energy sources a more feasible option. 

American innovators are working hard to develop different types of energy storage, including pumped-storage hydropower, compressed air, molten salt (thermal), and battery storage. While these solutions aren’t available yet, the efforts are promising and worth supporting.

Carbon Capture and Storage

As we continue to expand and develop clean energy sources such as renewable energy and nuclear power, we can also explore ways to reduce carbon emissions from more traditional energy sources such as natural gas. The process, called carbon capture and storage (CCS), involves capturing carbon dioxide, transporting it by ship or pipeline, and then storing it underground in rock formations, often in depleted oil and gas fields. 

CCS was first used in 1972 in southern Texas. Today, it is being harnessed throughout the country with over two dozen projects in development. One facility in Wyoming, for example, captures approximately 365 million cubic feet per day of carbon dioxide. That’s equivalent to removing more than 1.5 million cars from the road. Improving this technology and expanding its use will further reduce carbon emissions while allowing us to continue to use reliable energy sources that aren’t carbon-free. 

These are just two examples of the many different projects underway. American innovation has overcome challenges time and again, and its potential to help us solve climate change is no different. 

Taking a wide approach to different types of clean energy sources will enable us to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change while keeping our energy supply affordable and reliable. Policymakers must be realistic in their approach to climate policies by working within our current capabilities, while encouraging further innovation and technology development along the way.