The Iron Age was a period in the evolution of humankind when our ancestors learned to work with iron, and later carbon steel. It arrived 5,000 years ago, and eventually ushered in the First Industrial Revolution. The Guardian Newspaper announced the arrival of The Ion Age on January 14, 2019. This is because the ions in batteries may rescue us from global warming.
The ‘Sliver of Hope’ The Ion Age Offers
Renewable energy in wind, and solar and water presents the only known option to decarbonize. This would enable us to gradually rid our atmosphere of greenhouse gases. And bring global temperatures down to pre-industrial revolution levels offering new hope.
But this energy is not as stable as the giant coal and nuclear power stations we once relied on. Nature is a living thing, and the sun and wind and tide vary as each day passes by. The Ion Age has ushered in the possibility of storing this energy in giant, collective batteries. In 2017 we only had one gigawatt of battery storage. By 2020, we may have as much as 50.
The Role of Batteries in the Renewable Revolution
Large storage batteries came into their own when technology learned to locate them alongside renewable energy farms. These are mega-collections of wind turbines and solar panels. Utilities use this stored energy to supplement their grids at peak demand times Thanks to this, the days of peaking gas stations are ending,
The most exciting idea of all is converting our homes to micro power stations. Each of us could generate a few watts while we were at work, and sell them to our utility. Supporters of The Ion Age suggest we could do away with coal and power stations if we roped in the estimated 2 billion households on the planet. However that will take a while, even if we had the collective will, and vision.
The Iron Age began around 3200 BC, when a genius hammered meteoric iron into small beads. Our own Ion Age is only beginning. We have so much work to do, and we may have so little time left over to do it.
Preview Image: Restored Iron Age Round House