Electricity storage’s time has come

I especially like the idea that battery technology today is where PV was 10 years ago. At the beginning of a dramatic drop in prices.


Part of the "smart town" Panasonic is building in Japan. Part of the “smart town” Panasonic is building near Tokyo, Japan.

Everyone knows that solar and wind power are variable energy sources; neither on its own produces electricity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. For that matter, no electricity source can do that indefinitely: nuclear reactors have to be shut down for weeks for refueling every 12-18 months and occasionally suffer unplanned shutdowns; coal plants break down and need repairs, so do gas-powered turbines.

Thus, backup power is needed whatever the main source of power may be. In solar and wind’s case, their variability is more pronounced. But their variability is predictable: for example, grid operators know that solar isn’t going to produce at night, when the sun is down. Of course, power demand is down most of the night too–not as big a problem as it might appear.

These days knowledgeable grid operators…

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

3 responses to “Electricity storage’s time has come”

  1. Kip Gardner says :

    Since any storage system is subject to the laws of thermodynamics, I think there are better options than batteries (although advances in battery technology are important for many reasons.) Batteries, no matter how well made or efficient will have a high resource footprint, at least in terms of using any existing or near-timeline likely battery technology. Better options would be hydrogen production via electrolysis or pumped storage, both proven technologies that are long-lasting and have small footprints once constructed.

    • Ken Huck says :

      As I see it pumped storage would be being built by private capital now if we had a rational electricity pricing model. Namely that all users paid more when the demand goes high and pay less when the demand goes low. AKA time of use pricing. The current pricing model seems to be a huge incentive for utilities to keep putting fossil fuel plants into service. I see bi-directionally grid interactive pure electric and hybrid electric vehicles as potential utility game changers. Who needs peaking plants when widely distributed vehicles with peak shaving capacities are distributed closer to the peak loads. All these interesting alternatives seem buried under the established regulatory system.

      Ken Huck

  2. keenan says :

    Wow! Low-cost power storage would be a huge game-changer!

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