US energy chief makes bold claim for storage technology

Posted: August 13, 2016 by oldbrew in Energy, research
Tags: ,



Is the world ready for organic flow batteries using extracts from rhubarb? PEI reports on some new electricity storage ideas hoping to save renewable energy from ultimate failure. ‘Holy Grail’ or wild goose chase – time will tell.

The US energy secretary, Ernest Moniz, believes the advances being made in storage technology means that the country will be completely decarbonised by the 2050s.

A global race, seen initially in Europe and the US is leading to a rapid acceleration in innovation that may dispense with the need for nuclear and thermal power by that time according to the technology’s backers, as the Achilles heel of intermittency will no longer impact on the overall effectiveness of renewables.

Surges of excess power will instead be stored for use later at times when the sun sets, and consumption peaks in the early evening. “Storage is a huge deal,” says Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary and himself a nuclear physicist. The Daily Telegraph reports that he is now confident that the US grid and power system will be completely “decarbonised” by the middle of the century.

The US Department of Energy is funding 75 projects developing electricity storage, mobilizing teams of scientists at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and the elite Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge labs in a bid for what it calls the ‘Holy Grail’ of energy policy.

Consultants Mckinsey estimate that the energy storage market will grow a hundredfold to $90bn a year by 2025.

Full report: US energy chief makes bold claim for storage technology – Power Engineering International

  1. Stephen Richards says:

    Sounds like the Fusion predictions of 50 yrs ago.

  2. Roger Clague says:

    We already have a efficient and abundant store of energy for over 100 years.

  3. p.g.sharrow says:

    “Storage is a huge deal,” says Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary and himself a nuclear physicist.

    Obviously not a person with a grasp of reality. Perhaps a highly educated Liberal with a brain filled with garbage.

    A decarbonized energy system based on renewables and battery storage!

    Even when it works, it is a loser in energy lost and cost of the system in construction and maintenance. All the rose colored glasses in the world will not change that outcome.

    Fission/Fusion is the only long term outcome…pg

  4. Curious George says:

    A practical energy storage is highly desirable. We don’t have it. Mr. Moniz believes that any problem may be solved by signing a check – 75 checks. Of course that makes it a huge deal. That’s the U.S. only.

    Italy’s Green Energy Storage has the European licence for a Harvard flow battery. It is building a prototype with the Kessler Foundation at Trento University, backed by EU funds.

    Look at California schools to see if receiving a check solves their problems.

  5. graphicconception says:

    Perhaps others might like to check the numbers but the last time I looked I calculated that the new Elon Musk GigaFactory would need to produce batteries for the next 2,250 years to store a day’s worth of energy for the US.

    They will be needing 16,000 Ivanpah-sized renewable energy generators to keep them topped up.

    There is more to this than just writing a cheque.

  6. oldbrew says:

    ‘Professor Michael Aziz, leader of the Harvard project, said there are still problems to sort out with the “calendar life” of storage chemicals but the basic design is essentially proven.’

    Many a slip twixt cup and lip.

  7. The utopian vision (really, blindness) of propaganda fools like Mr. Moniz remind me of some of the cartoons made during the Great Depression; in “The Sunshine Makers”, for example, freedom-loving elves bottled sunshine in milk bottles on an assembly line, which they then threw as grenades at the claw-fingered invaders who had taken over the town, thus saving the day for all. People should think about the possibility of elves storing sunshine in milk bottles, when some “expert” or “authority” tries to sell them on storing electricity, to meet the power needs of our civilization.

  8. oldbrew says:

    ‘an organic flow battery at Harvard that uses quinones from cheap and abundant sources such as rhubarb or oil waste’

    Where are they going to grow/get all that rhubarb?

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    Follow the government checks to find the subsidy farmers…..

    THE basic problem, which can not be solved, is that all energy conversion makes losses.

    For storage, you have:
    AC to DC conversion loss
    charger circuit loss
    charging loss in the battery / system
    standby (self discharge) loss
    discharge loss in the battery / system
    DC to AC conversion loss

    all in addition to the usual generation and transmission losses…

    Now if each one of those is just 5% (real losses often higher) you have 0.95^6 or 73% efficiency, or 27% loss… note battery people rarely talk about the non-battery part of the system and those losses. It will never be more efficient to store power than to generate and use at once.

  10. oldbrew says:

    It’s not efficient to turn off wind turbines when there’s no demand for their power, so storage may have some point, given that we have turbines – like them or not.

    But the idea that entire countries could depend on such storage when the wind isn’t blowing seems fanciful at present, to say the least.

  11. Graeme No.3 says:

    You never get 100% return from any part of the storage process, so the cost of the stored energy rises as the overall efficiency drops. A 75% efficient storage system increases the cost by 33% ( 4 units in, 3 units out ) while a 50% effective system doubles the cost of electricity.
    It would be cheaper to put all the bureaucrats in the Department of Energy on a tired mill, with the added advantage of a lesser output of rubbish.

  12. tchannon says:

    Sorry oldbrew, won’t work, games up, yanks are after the Yorkshire rhubarb triangle.

    What to do about it? S’pose we could edit wikipedia so they can’t find it. Yorkshiremen and brass, some clown would crumble, try and sell it.

  13. tchannon says:

    So the USA is going to build say two orders of magnitude larger electricity generation? Even that is likely to be far too little.

    Should be fun when some large cells go into fault. That’ll larn ’em.

  14. tom0mason says:

    I wonder what the SP is on this goose.
    Might be worth putting a bet on this one…

  15. Graeme No.3 says:

    Are you sure it isn’t a turkey?

  16. Mjw says:

    tchannon: we always have Eckythump.

  17. p.g.sharrow says:

    This is a problem that I have studied most of my 70 years. The only storage system that works is water pumped storage. This seems to work well, coupled with wind generation. This has been used in California for over 40 years. As long as Government mandated subsidies make wind generated power “free” the low inefficiencies caused by conversions are acceptable.
    Pumped Storage is a well known technology, long lived, low maintenance and very dependable.

    Wind generation is the real problem. It has very high maintenance cost and equipment is relatively short lived. A government mandated boondoggle to enrich a few on the backs of the many. Over 40 years of use here in California has demonstrated NO real benefit and resulted in doubling the cost of all electrical power to consumers.

    Scrap the *#** things. They do not supply useful power and are expensive!

    We don’t need them! …pg

  18. oldbrew says:

    There’s compressed air storage if you’ve got a handy cavern nearby. Costs uncertain.

  19. Jason Calley says:

    Hey Oldbrew! Compressed gas is the only energy storage mechanism known that can actually out put more energy than was put in to it. While not at all cheap, the process is conceptully simple. First you gather up approximately one solar mass of hydrogen gas, then let it self compress by gravitation,and before you know it….. 🙂

  20. steverichards1984 says:

    In terms of energy storage, a newish one to me, is

    Where they drive an electric train up a hill with off load electric and let it run down hill to generate peak electric….

    Seems as though they are building a few in the states.

    I can see that many long or steep hills in the UK though….

  21. tchannon says:

    Mjw says:
    August 14, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    tchannon: we always have Eckythump.

    How about Leckythump? 🙂

  22. oldbrew says:

    ‘National Grid is to announce the winning bids for a battery storage scheme this week.

    Thirty-seven companies have submitted bids for the first Enhanced Frequency Response auction scheme to supply 200 MW of power, which will be used to bolster Britain’s energy security.

    National Grid will reveal the winning bids on Friday. The battery arrays will help to manage peaks and troughs in UK electricity production because of the nation’s increasing reliance on volatile wind and solar power.’

    Add that to the cost of the already heavily subsidised unreliables.
    Along with the £millions for diesel generators.