United States’ industrial energy came largely from human hands and the power of levers until 1849. That occasion was when American inventor and engineer George Henry Corliss filed a patent for valve gear for a steam engine. His fame spread around the world, culminating in a 1,400 horsepower monster. However, batteries role in US energy was still a long way off.
How 110-Volt AC Electricity Arrived in America in 1882
America settled for the comfortable world of electricity when the ‘War of Currents’ was over in the late 19th Century.
Corliss’ brave steam engines silently slipped away never again to lift their mighty pistons.
The grateful public had no idea their AC current came from even noisier, dirtier coal power stations. We fear we were already on the road to global warming. Tragically, the American public did not understand the carbon penalties they were racking up for generations to come.
The 21st Century United States Energy Mix
Nuclear power stations were the only real innovation that followed on the spine of military technology in the 20th Century. True, there were a few hydroelectric stations, although these remained ‘the quaint exception’ in the eyes of utilities.
It took the weight of looming global warming to open the field to renewables, but only to an extent. This was when batteries role in U.S. energy gradually began to gather momentum. The US Energy Administration reports we currently generate 65% of our electricity from fossil fuels. Nuclear contributes 20%, and renewables the remaining 15%.
Batteries Role in US Energy Mix Thanks to Renewables
Of the 15% renewables, hydropower feeds 6.6% directly in to the grid. The rest comes from wind (5.6%), biomass (1.5%), solar (0.9%) and geothermal (0.4%). Thus batteries role in U.S. energy is currently 5.6% for wind, plus 0.9% for solar. But ‘from a small seed a mighty tree may grow’. We are almost as big as hydro, and over a quarter of the way to exceeding nuclear.
Preview Image: U.S. Energy Mix