Letters to the Editor: We need green power. But what are the environmental consequences of battery storage?

Three men in helmets and reflective vests at work.
Workers from Baker Electric install a battery storage system at EDF Renewables North America, a San Diego company.
(EDF Renewables)

To the editor: The two lead sentences in your editorial on green power go to the heart of our climate crisis. Limiting the damage from global warming means the survival of human civilization. If that sounds extreme, think of global food shortage resulting from disrupted agricultural production and the collapse of seafood production due to ocean acidification. More than a billion people depend on the water resources of the Himalayan mountains where the temperature is rising faster that the global average.

We humans do not have a great record of managing crises like these with humanity and pacifism.

Switching from the global fossil fueled-based energy economy will not be easy. It will require substantial political will. A powerful tool to combat climate change and build political will is carbon pricing. An economy-wide carbon fee would incentivize everyone to lower their carbon consumption. It’s doable because it is simple. No complex maze of regulations for each economic sector. It’s also doable because it has the best chance of bipartisan support in Congress.

Joe McLaughlin, Los Angeles


To the editor: The more I read about rooftop solar, the more enthusiastic I am becoming. I like the idea that California can become 100% free of fossil fuels by 2035. However, one thing that never seems to be addressed in any of the articles I have seen is the problem of pollution related to batteries. From what I know of the Exide scandal, batteries are terrible polluters.


I currently own a hybrid plug-in Prius. I worry about what will happen when I need to replace the drive battery (I have already had to replace the support battery that runs the computers and such). Where do the batteries go? How are the materials recycled? What happens to all the heavy metals they contain? I have a hard time accepting the huge increase in battery storage when no one is addressing the pollution involved.

I am not sure we should go “all in” on batteries without considering the environmental damage that they could do. Let’s try to avoid the “hindsight is 20-20" consequence when it comes to batteries.

Gary Barton, Santa Ana


To the editor: It strikes me that your fight for “green power” editorial misses the point. Our war is with carbon emissions. We don’t necessarily need all green power to do that.

According to Bill Gates’ recent book on climate disaster, fossil fuels can generate far more energy per square-meter of land, than solar or wind. I am not sure that we are ready to give up that much of the Mojave desert to meet our energy needs. Nuclear is more productive than wind and solar.

Kevin Minihan, Los Angeles