Down Time: Renewable Energy and the Quest for Storage

By Keith Johnson on October 2, 2009

Clearly, the key is to figure out how to store electricity generated by renewable energy sources—that would turn fickle wind farms into something like reliable baseload power. So far, though, familiar hurdles abound: scale and cost.

Take batteries. There’s been a lot of buzz over the past year around the potential for batteries, like those designed for electric cars, to help utilities store green energy. General Electric, for one, touted its investment in A123 Systems as a utility play. So did Warren Buffett when he invested in China’s BYD.

But batteries for the utility business face the same problems they do in the auto world: They are expensive and don’t pack a lot of power. That makes them impractical in the short term for energy storage.

But one idea has been gaining momentum: compressed-air storage. That’s when the electricity from wind farms or solar panels is used to compress air underground; when the wind dies down or the sun sets, that air is released, running a turbine.

For full article see:

Copyright © 2006-2016 The Regents of the University of California, All Rights Reserved.
Idea EngineeringUC Santa Barbara College of EngineeringPrivacyTerms of Use
UCSB  UC Santa Barbara Engineering & the Sciences College of Engineering Division of Math, Life, and Physical Sciences

energy efficiency