Batteries and Bristol Bay

What the Future Tides community is reading

Batteries and Bristol Bay
The Bristol Bay watershed is home to one of the most valuable sockeye salmon fisheries. (Photo courtesy of Frances Bursch)

Two reading recommendations from members of the Future Tides community. Reading about a topic you want to share? Let me know.


Jeanne Currie recommends MIT Technology Review’s article on flow batteries featuring Wilsonville, Oregon-based ESS. With so many things going electric, on and off the water, the demand for lithium is expected to skyrocket.

Jeanne said in an email: “Iron-flow batteries! Don’t require lithium mining (is just iron/water/salt) and can eliminate the need for back-up natural gas by storing wind/solar energy for nighttime. Portland General Electric is doing some big pilots with it this year.”

While these large scale batteries may not be applicable to use in recreational and commercial vessels, they may become part of the offshore wind ecosystem and prioritize lithium for batteries used in compact spaces, like boats.

Jeanne is also reading about solid-state batteries, which could be the next big step forward since lithium-ion batteries became commercially available 31 years ago.


This article from Alaska Public Media shares the latest developments in the ongoing Pebble Mine conflict. Returning to Bristol Bay for her 30th summer, Future Tides reader Frances Bursch wrote on Instagram: “Even for those of us closely tied to the Pebble Mine issue, it can be hard to keep up.”

Advocates, including many working in the salmon fishery like Frances, continue to push for long term protection of the watershed from a proposed mine. The EPA is currently holding a public comment period through July 5, another opportunity to protect the Bristol Bay salmon habitat and fishery, which has close ties to Seattle.

Although published before the EPA’s latest announcement, Frances recommends this in-depth New York Times story for more on the issue and its history. She says the United Tribes of Bristol Bay continues to be a leading voice for long term protections.

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