Options for energy storage

One challenge with renewable forms of energy like wind and solar power is that the power output from such facilities is intermittent. One way to address the problem is to store power from times when it is being produced in excess for use at times when the quantity demanded is high.

This article describes a number of such energy storage options, including ‘Green Power Islands’ along with systems based on pumping water, compressing air, and storing heat in molten salt.


2 thoughts on “Options for energy storage

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    More on ramping down baseload power and ramping up storage

    By David Roberts


    The other day I wrote a post about one of the main reasons Germany is phasing out nuclear power: It has decided that baseload power is not compatible with a system based on renewable energy. Since then I’ve run into some interesting stuff that’s related, and in my new bloggy spirit, I’m just going to toss it out there.

    First, I highly recommend Chris Nelder’s “Why baseload power is doomed,” which covers much of the same ground, but in somewhat more technical detail and more focused on the U.S.

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    One product of these efforts is a new industrial battery. This began with research into making a battery tough enough to be used in a hybrid locomotive. A chemistry based on nickel and salt provided the required energy density and robustness. Yet making it work in the laboratory is one thing, commercialising the tricky processes involved to mass-produce the battery quite another. So GE sets up pilot production lines to learn how to put promising ideas into action before building a factory. Some ideas fail at this stage, others fly.

    The battery is one that has taken off. Besides hybrid trains it is also suitable for other hybrid vehicles, such as fork lifts, as well as applications like providing back-up power for data centres and to power telecoms masts in remote places. It will be made in a new $100m facility near Niskayuna so that researchers are on hand to continue development. The battery itself consists of a set of standard cells which go into modules that can be connected together for different applications. The modules take up half the space of an equivalent lead-acid battery, are only about a quarter of the weight, will last for 20 years without servicing and work well in freezing or extremely hot conditions, says Glen Merfeld, in charge of energy-storage systems at GE’s laboratory.

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