For The U.S. To Become Carbon Neutral, Long-Term Energy Storage Is A Must

July 26, 2021

The Biden administration is pushing its Energy Earthshots Initiative that aims to accelerate innovation and bring life-changing products to market. That involves “long-term energy storage,” which could radically alter the way electricity is produced and consumed by permanently tipping the scales toward green energy.

If voracious energy users such as data centers are to hit their net-zero targets, they must run their enterprises on renewable energy. But the sun does not always shine and the wind does not always blow. So long-term energy storage is vital. Their dilemma: most storage assets can kick in for a few hours but they can’t discharge for weeks at a time. What now?

While batteries are meeting many of today’s short-term storage needs, they cannot provide long-term storage: lithium-ion batteries can keep the electrons flowing for four-to-eight hours, although “flow batteries” can release energy for 15 hours. If a catastrophic event such as a wildfire occurs, then diesel generators are used for long-term relief — but limited by the amount of available fuel.

Meantime, there’s hydrogen. Solar panels will generate excess electricity which, through an electrolyzer, is turned into pure hydrogen. That gas is stored in a tank before being piped through a fuel cell. It is a form of long-term energy storage, although the cost of producing “green hydrogen” from clean sources needs to drop before it would become commonplace.

Read more here.

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