Batteries are an intrinsic part of the transition to renewable energy — and we’ll use them for much more than electric vehicles.
Picture it. Your power goes out during a storm, and you’re in the middle of cooking dinner. No matter. After lighting a few candles, you continue about your task — because your kitchen is equipped with a battery-powered induction stove. Consider this a look into the not-so-distant future.
In an effort to stymie the effects of climate change — and thanks largely to funding from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act — federal and state governments are rushing to transition the country’s power grids off fossil fuels and onto clean energy electricity. But there are hurdles. The U.S. electric grid is fragmented and will require the installation of thousands of miles of high-voltage power lines (to the tune of billions of dollars) to transport renewable solar and wind energy to communities nationwide. This transition will take years to complete.
Tech startups have a solution, one that doesn’t require electrical upgrades and will be available in the next year: battery-powered induction stoves. Companies like Impulse Labs and Channing St. Cooper Co. have created next-generation induction stoves that plug into a standard 120-volt outlet and use batteries to supplement electricity usage. The appliances can even be used to power refrigerators and serve as an energy source for the home in the event of an outage.
“We want to make the decarbonization process as easy as possible for people. Making the electrification of our homes better, and being able to significantly upgrade without financial sacrifice — that’s a game-changer,” says Weldon Kennedy, co-founder and CMO of Channing St. Cooper Co.
Currently, large appliances like all-electric induction stoves require a 240-voltage outlet to operate. However, due to the prevalence of gas stoves in America, millions of homes, particularly older ones, aren’t outfitted with these high-powered outlets. Installing them can be costly and puts unnecessary strain on the electrical grid.
Leveraging energy storage from batteries allows appliances like stoves to reduce their dependence on the grid in the mornings and the evenings when electricity usage spikes.
“Batteries are key to spreading intermittent renewable energy sources over the entire day. They’re also key to helping blunt the demand for additional transmission capacity — which will be put under strain as homes and businesses fully electrify,” says Sam D’Amico, CEO of Impulse Labs. “A common concern is as everyone gets heat pumps, EV chargers, and induction stoves, the utility has to do serious upgrades upstream to distribution lines to homes, transformers, transmission, and generation.”
Read more: Why You Should Switch to a Heat Pump
Battery-powered induction stoves also offer a pathway for consumers to reduce their carbon footprints, eliminate potentially harmful pollutants associated with gas stoves — like carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and nitrogen oxide — from their indoor air, and improve their home’s climate resilience.
“When Texas froze over in 2021, gas lines also froze. Residents with a battery energy storage system could still have boiled water, which is especially important if you have a boil water advisory in a disaster,” says Weldon. “And even if you’ve gone full solar and have batteries in the house, most home batteries won’t provide enough power to bring your oven up to temperature. Adding layers of energy storage allows you to do the things you need, like keeping your family fed in a power outage, and build a more resilient home”
Read more: Why We Need to Go Beyond Electric Vehicles
The differentiating factor of the lithium-iron phosphate batteries used in battery-powered induction stoves is they are designed to deliver a large amount of power quickly compared to other home or device batteries that are built for longevity. When the stove is plugged in, its battery simultaneously recharges while it emits the high energy required for cooking or keeping other large appliances running. When the power goes out, Channing St. Cooper Co.’s model can cook roughly four meals, while Impulse Labs’ high-end cooktop can cook an average of three meals.
Of course, while batteries are integral to a clean energy future, they aren’t a magic bullet. And they come with environmental pitfalls. Manufacturing is energy-intensive and essential elements like lithium require mining, which releases greenhouse gasses and often includes toxic chemicals such as hydrochloric and sulfuric acid.
Still, proponents point out that lithium-iron phosphate batteries are more environmentally friendly than those required by electric vehicles — and the transition from fossil fuels ultimately outweighs any downsides.
“There’s a few big differences between mining for lithium and drilling for oil. Lithium will be reused in future batteries as the recycling system improves,” says D’Amico. “The thermal efficiency of electric vehicles — or induction stoves — is also 2 to 3 times better than their fossil fuel-powered equivalents, so even if the underlying energy that charges the batteries is dirty, you still come out far ahead.”
Either way, don’t expect the battery boom to end anytime soon. D’Amico says it makes sense that any appliance that runs on gas or needs a high-voltage electrical connection to operate — think hot water heaters, dryers, and even heat pumps — will likely use battery-supplemented energy in the future. For its part, Channing St. Cooper Co. is already looking beyond stoves, with plans to target water heating and HVAC solutions next. Both companies plan to launch their flagship stoves in the coming year or so.
Read more: Coming Soon: Electric Trucks
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