For a clean energy future, few technologies are more important than batteries. Used for powering zero-emission vehicles, storing electricity from solar panels and wind turbines, and revitalizing the electric grid, batteries are essential to scaling up the renewable energy resources that help address global warming. But given the unique environmental impact of batteries—including mining, disposal, and more—does a clean energy transition risk trading one set of problems for another?
In Charged, James Morton Turner unpacks the history of batteries to explore why solving "the battery problem" is critical to a clean energy transition. At a time when climate activists focus on what a clean energy future will create—sustainability, resiliency, and climate justice—considering the history of batteries offers a sharp reminder of what building a clean energy future will consume—lithium, graphite, nickel, and other specialized materials. With new insight on questions of justice and sustainability, Turner draws on the past for crucial lessons that will help us build a clean energy future, from the ground up.