Thursday, September 22, 2016

Waste offers potential energy storage solution for solar and wind

Solar and wind energy industries are growing rapidly in many countries all across the globe. These two fast growing industries, despite all the growth, are still in search of adequate energy storage solution that would solve intermittency issue of these two renewable energy sources.

There are many ongoing researches working on various solutions to save excess solar and wind energy for times when the sun is down and the wind isn't blowing. The perfect storage solution still hasn't been found, and batteries are usually the most talked about as the most promising solution.

There have been many proposed solutions, and one that is currently most often used is pumped hydroelectric storage. According to the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) pumped hydroelectric storage accounts for more than 99% of bulk production capacity worldwide.

In 2010 the United States had 21.5 GW of pumped storage generating capacity, and U.S. is also the home to the largest operational pumped-storage plant in the world, the Bath County Pumped Storage Station.

Another potential approach for new energy storage solution is using sugar alcohols in mix with carbon nanotubes as reported in ACS’ Journal of Physical Chemistry C. Sugar alcohol is a readily available waste product of the food industry.

Scientists want to store energy as heat and have been exploring sugar alcohols as a possible material for making thermal storage work. There are still plenty of limitations in this technology, but also a big potential that should open the door for further research.

Turning waste into any useful form of energy and doing it cost-effectively would certainly revolutionize our entire energy industry.