03 August, 2021

A Sunny Electric Dream

As technologies to tap the sun and store its energy become more efficient, we are already on our way to an ­incredibly ­energy-affluent world. And chances are we might arrive there before ­development driven by fossil fuels brings on a ­c­limate-change apocalypse.

A Sunny Electric Dream

In the near future, the sun will come clo­ser to you—so will the wind take up residence nearby. In a friendly neighbourhood battery, that is. The lithium-ion battery that runs your smartphone today could soon power Indian homes, cars and offices alike. This isn’t the stuff of science fiction, but a reality in the making. It already is a reality, for a small percentage of homes in countries such as the US and Germany. The scenario is doubly tempting: one, because of the vastly improved ways in which the Indian sun will soon be harvested; and two, because of how the big push towards renewable energy is accompanied by a technological leap in batteries­—how they can trap, store and deliver power.

As India battles perhaps its deepest conflict—how to move towards an energy-intensive future without imperilling that very future—the path has to inevitably lead away from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy. But how does one make, say, solar energy available on tap? It’s a field that has for long been marked by an infuriating blend...

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