How many batteries have you used today?
Energy storage devices have become an integral part of our lives, but they still aren't really a part of our electric grid. There are some good reasons for that—at that scale of storage, batteries become gigantic and extremely expensive. But the lack of storage on the grid has some distinct drawbacks, putting the stability of our electric system at risk and making it harder to add in lots of renewable energy generation.
Because of that, researchers are looking for ways to get the benefits of batteries without some of the detriments. There are lots of different ways to do this, but one solution is particularly awesome to describe. Hint: It involves caves.
Last Friday, I had a guest post on i09 explaining Compressed Air Energy Storage, an old technology that could be one of the most cost-effective ways to store energy at a grid scale.
At any given moment, there must be almost exactly the same amount of electricity being produced as there is being consumed. If the balance tilts either way-even by a fraction of a percent-it could lead to a blackout. To simply keep the lights on, the grid has to be constantly monitored, with controllers predicting demand and making small adjustments, minute-by-minute, to supply. This happens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
... That's where CAES comes in. CAES systems store energy underground in the form of compressed air, but to make it work you have to start with the right kind of geology. In particular, you need a space that's airtight. This means that you can't just pump air into the sort of cave you've toured while on vacation. Instead, you have to find a hollowed-out space underground that used to hold something naturally-such as a natural gas reservoir that's had all of the gas pumped out of it.
Read the rest at i09
Learn more about how the grid works and why storage is so important by reading my book, Before the Lights Go Out.
Image: Holes in porous rock, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from blmurch's photostream
The Breitbart chief and Trump campaign CEO’s sexist bullying was evident in the early days of Biosphere 2 in Arizona, then a quasi “space colonization” and environmental research project. Stephen K. Bannon, who recently took a leave from running Breitbart.com to become Donald Trump’s chief campaign executive, once bullied women in the historic environmental research […]
Jesse Singal requested this shoop, and I delivered. After all, who’s downloading pirated papers? Everyone. (I’ve uploaded this to Redbubble if you’d like a poster—of course, you can just as well pirate it.)
Hydraulic Press Channel shows why carbon fiber and variants like carbon nanotubes have so many uses: depending on the configuration, they can hold up against the hydraulic press.
If you’re like us, packing and unpacking are two of your least favorite aspects of traveling. Specifically with multi-destination trips, our suitcases usually end in wrinkled clothing, toothpaste stains, and a misplaced deodorant.The good news is that we’ve found a suitcase that eliminates the disastrous effects of packing and unpacking: The Rolo Travel Bag ($42.99). You essentially use it […]
Finding quality icons is a challenge for designers, and can also get pretty costly if you use them often. And when you’ve got a lot to do, the last thing you want to spend your time on is creating new icons from scratch That’s why we recommend using the Noun Project ($49). Noun Project is a site […]
While Netflix and Hulu have seemingly dominated the streaming market with their limited selections, we’ve looked a little outside the box and found something pretty great as an alternative. SelectTV combines all the content of cable with the convenience of streaming, and it’s affordable too.SelectTV is an online subscription service that packs an impressive library of over […]