In Egypt, to divert the course of the Nile to build the city of Menfi, the first known dam in history was built. The water flow was accumulated and directed toward the complex irrigation systems of the time, to turn barren regions into fertile plains.
The Baghdad Battery
In Persia, a terracotta jar containing a copper cylinder, which in turn contains a single iron bar, is created. The German archaeologist Wilhem König, after analyzing it in 1938, believed the object to be the first rudimentary battery in history.
Collecting Energy for Defense
To defend medieval fortifications, round logs and boulders were stored at the top of hills or high walls. In the event of an attack, their potential energy was released, becoming kinetic energy to strike any invaders in range.
The Italian physicist Alessandro Volta builds the first static generator of electrical energy ever created. The battery is made up of a column of alternating zinc and copper discs, separated by an intermediary layer of felt or cardboard soaked in saltwater.
From the First Dry Cell…
The French engineer Georges Leclanché creates the first dry cell battery, containing no liquid and therefore easy to transport and use
… to Weston’s Solution
The English chemist Edward Weston invents a smaller wet cell battery. The Weston cell will become a reference for the calibration of measuring instruments, like voltmeters, in laboratories.
Evolve and Reduce
Different materials are used for new kinds of batteries: zinc-air (1914), methane (1936), mercury (1942) and the first alkaline battery (1950). The goal is to create smaller products, to adapt to many uses.
Button Cell Batteries
The first mercury batteries enter the market. The most common ones are flat and round, typical of old wristwatches.
Fuel cells are used for the first time on NASA’s Gemini and Apollo spacecraft.
The Forerunner of Non-Battery Storage
The first CAES (Compressed-air energy storage) storage system comes into operation: it uses nuclear energy to compress and inject air into two displacement caverns with 310,000 m³ of volume.
The Weston cell battery is banned after new research reveals the toxicity of mercury and cadmium, present in the battery in high concentrations.
A Nobel Discovery
After 20 years of study, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are introduced to the market: they allow several charges of large quantities of energy and provide the foundation for the main communication and working tools of today. In 2019, John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino will receive the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for their discovery.
The First Commercial Battery Storage
The so-called Barbados Project becomes operational in November. It’s the first lithium-ion battery system connected to the electrical grid for purely commercial uses.
Storage Comes to Europe
The first commercial-sized electrochemical storage system in Europe is opened near Schwerin, in Germany. The plant holds 25,600 lithium-ion batteries, to store non-programmable wind and solar production.
An Increasingly Affordable Solution
loomberg New Energy Finance reported a downward trend in the cost of solar and photovoltaic plants paired with storage solutions. The average prices of storage systems analyzed (20 MWh of capacity and 4 hours of storage) has fallen by 40% from 2018: a further reduction of 52% is expected by 2030.
Never Again Without Energy
Increasingly Common and Affordable
The large-scale production of battery systems allows storage to take hold faster, guaranteeing higher levels of performance.
Toward the Energy Transition
With storage systems, renewables can shift gears, making the process of the energy transition faster and more ready for the future.
Storage allows for new services for electrical system security (static reserve, regulation of frequency, voltage and restarting), previously the exclusive terrain of conventional sources.