© 2020

Energy Storage and Civilization

A Systems Approach


Part of the Lecture Notes in Energy book series (LNEN, volume 40)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Graham Palmer, Joshua Floyd
    Pages 1-28
  3. Graham Palmer, Joshua Floyd
    Pages 29-40
  4. Graham Palmer, Joshua Floyd
    Pages 41-56
  5. Graham Palmer, Joshua Floyd
    Pages 71-88
  6. Graham Palmer, Joshua Floyd
    Pages 89-108
  7. Graham Palmer, Joshua Floyd
    Pages 109-124
  8. Graham Palmer, Joshua Floyd
    Pages 125-137
  9. Graham Palmer, Joshua Floyd
    Pages 139-156
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 157-173

About this book


Fossil fuels comprise the accumulation of prehistoric biomass that was energised by sunlight, and formed by earth system dynamics. Fossil fuels can be conceptualized as stored energy stocks that can be readily converted to power flows, on demand. A transition from a reliance on stored energy stocks, to renewable energy flows, will require a replication of energy storage by technological devices and energy conversion methods. Most analyses of energy storage focus solely on the economic-technical properties of storage within incumbent energy systems. This book broadens the scope of the study of storage by placing it within a broader, historical, biophysical framework. The role and value of storage is examined from first principles, and framed within the contemporary context of electrical grids and markets. The energy-economic cost of electrical storage may be critical to the efficacy of high penetration renewable scenarios, and understanding the costs and benefits of storage is needed for a proper assessment of storage in energy transition studies. This book provides a starting point for engineers, scientists and energy analysts for exploring the role of storage in energy transition studies, and for gaining an appreciation of the biophysical constraints of storage.


limits on energy storage biophysical limitations of energy storage systems science perspective on energy biophysical constraints on energy storage energy-economic cost of electrical storage transition from fossil fuels

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Monash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.MelbourneAustralia

About the authors

Graham Palmer is a researcher who divides his time between industry and academia. He has an industry background as an engineer and researcher in manufacturing, HVAC and electronics. He has published in the area of biophysical economics, renewable energy, life-cycle analysis, and energy-economic modelling. Graham obtained his PhD in the area of energy-return-on-investment (EROI) of electricity supply. His current research interests include the future roles of energy storage systems.

Joshua Floyd is a researcher and educator in the area of energy and societal futures. His work draws on training and experience in futures studies and strategic foresight, and systems thinking and practice. His early engineering career focused on technology development and commercialization in the extractive metallurgy industry. His qualifications include a Master of Science (Strategic Foresight) and Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical). He is Energy, Systems and Society Fellow at The Rescope Project.

Bibliographic information


“Their new book Energy Storage and Civilization: A Systems Approach … is an important contribution to biophysical economics – marvelously clear, deep and detailed where necessary, and remarkably thorough for a work of just over 150 pages. … Energy Storage and Civilization is a superb overview of [the] challenges for the waning years of fossil fuel civilization.” (Resilience,, March 5, 2020)