What Exactly is Energy?
In the very simplest of terms, energy can be described as the ability to make things happen. In the science world, there are two types of energy: kinetic and potential. Energy of any type can be categorized in one of these two forms.
Kinetic energy is simply defined as energy that can’t be stored. A perfect example of kinetic energy is something we’re all familiar with: a bolt of lightning. If you think about it, we can’t store the disruptive energy from the bolt into a jar or container and use it in the future.
Electricity is also considered as an excellent source of kinetic energy. The simple reason is because electricity is always running and, like the lightning bolt example above, it can’t be stored for future use.
Potential energy is, in essence, the opposite of kinetic energy. It can be stored. And it can be used later. A perfect example of kinetic energy is food. Food has the potential to power our bodies. And that power or energy is measured in calories. As we consume food such as broccoli or turkey, our bodies store those calories which will be used later.
Here’s How Energy and Electricity Relate
As of today energy and electricity are purchased on various energy markets. These particular markets (or plants) sell the energy they produce to utility companies and suppliers. It is these companies that help keep your lights on.
Looking back at our definitions of kinetic and potential energy, if it were possible to store electricity, there would be no need for energy markets. On top of that, there would be no more blackouts or brownouts (a brownout is a condition where the demand for energy outweighs the amount that can be supplied). And if we were able to store electricity, we would experience an entirely different pricing structure.
In its simplest terms, if electricity was potential instead of kinetic energy, there would be a serious disruption in the world of energy. Most likely it would be sold for less and the entire industry would experience massive changes.
A Look Ahead as to the Future of Energy Storage
As it turns out, we could theoretically have a future featuring stored energy but there are two issues that will most likely prevent that from ever occurring. These issues are cost and size.
For consumers, this is the most important factor. Energy storage is much more expensive than what we pay for today. It would be incredibly expensive to research and then eventually develop stored energy concepts. Bottom line: the price you’re paying in kilowatt hours (kWh) would increase significantly.
Without giving you a specific figure, the U.S. consumes a ton of energy each and every year. And with the population growing by the day, it is a challenge to keep power flowing to our homes and businesses. And when it comes to stored energy, we could only store energy in extremely small batches. To put that into perspective, imagine trying to fill up a large swimming pool with one gallon buckets.
What’s Next in the World of Energy?
At the end of the day, there seems to be one solution and one solution only: an energy company will need to invent a method that accomplishes two goals: 1) store energy at a cheaper price and 2) be able to store large quantities.
Will this ever happen? No one can say for sure and only time will tell.