When the wind is blowing, the great plains could generate enough power to supply all of America, but storing and moving energy to supply those places where the wind isn't blowing, the sun isn't shining and the tide isn't coming in is a significant technological challenge that we're still figuring out.
On Ars Technica, Megan Geuss rounds up some exciting power-storage technologies, some in widespread use, some still under development. I was familiar with some of these, like pumped storage, but others, like the clever use of ice as a storage medium to offset cooling costs in places with cold nights and hot days (like southern California, where I live) were new to me.
Like many of these energy storage systems, thermal storage is a dramatic departure from what a common person would think of as a "battery." Much like compressed air and pumped storage, thermal storage systems take electricity when it's cheap (usually at night) to freeze water. During the day, that ice is melted and circulated through a system that allows the neighboring facility to be cooled without running energy-intensive air conditioning in the middle of a hot day (when demand for electricity is already high and generating stations are inefficient because generators need to power cooling functions).
Thermal energy has its appeal in hot areas with cool nights, especially in California and the southwest. In May, thermal energy system builder Ice Energy partnered with NRG Energy to deliver 1,800 "ice batteries" to commercial and industrial customers of Southern California Edison, the local utility.
Here are humanity’s best ideas on how to store energy
[Megan Geuss/Ars Technica]
Scientists drilled into the Chixclub crater in the Gulf of Mexico to learn more about the end of the mesozoic era. They learned more than they expected, reports Katherine Kornei in The New York Times. The first day of the Cenozoic was peppered with cataclysms. When the asteroid struck, it temporarily carved a hole 60 […]
Get over it! Despite the mockers and complainers, and even attempts to make it illegal to perambulate while looking at your own damned phone, science concludes that the risks of it are negligible. As part of the mandated study, the DOT conducted an in-depth review of written crash narratives in the city between 2014 and […]
Typically, marine photography is done in rich, saturated color — the better to show off the riot of life beneath the waves. But the photographer Christian Vizl has done it in high-contrast black and white, producing eerily intense ways of re-seeing marine life. You can see the work on his site, and in his new […]
Your smartphone’s GPS is a modern necessity for some trips, but how do you use it safely? It’s been a problem ever since phones went mobile. A certain phone mount even shelled out the money for a commercial during the Big Game, so clearly there’s a market for the solution. Turns out there are a […]
There’s reading for pleasure, and then there’s reading for fuel; absorbing the great ideas in nonfiction books so you can apply them in your own life. In today’s hectic pace, it can be difficult to find the time to do that reading – especially for the entrepreneurs and professionals who can benefit the most from […]
Breaking into the big leagues as a project manager isn’t done overnight, but there are principles that anyone can learn, and they’re applicable to nearly any business. No matter what your field, if there are multiple teams working toward a common goal, you’re going to need a roadmap. The Project Management Professional Certification Training Suite […]