Archive for the ‘grid’ Category

If weight isn’t an issue, nickel-hydrogen battery chemistry looks promising

October 31st, 2018
Cylinder containing nickel and hydrogen

A prototype Nickel-Hydrogen battery testing cell. (credit: Wei Chen, Yang Jin, Jie Zhao, Nian Liu, and Yi Cui )

Battery technology is extremely important for a world that uses more and more renewable energy. Renewable energy is variable—no electricity can be produced while the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing—so being able to store excess electricity that's made when those renewable sources are producing is key to putting more of it on the grid.

The problem is that very large batteries can be expensive. A lot of research has been devoted to making batteries lighter and smaller, given how focused we've been over the last several decades on consumer technology. But now researchers are relaxing size and weight constraints and trying to find battery chemistries that are cheap and are extremely long-lasting instead.

Researchers from Stanford and the Georgia Institute of Technology (GT) are suggesting a new configuration of a nickel-hydrogen battery that could be cheap enough for mass-adoption on the grid. Traditional nickel-hydrogen batteries can last for up to 30,000 cycles and are extremely reliable and durable, which makes them great for grid use. But they often rely on a platinum catalyst that can make them prohibitively expensive for large installations.

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Rick Perry’s “baseload” study released, offers a lifeline to coal, nuclear

August 24th, 2017

Enlarge / DUNKIRK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES – 2016/10/09: A NRG owned coal fired energy facility that plans to convert to a natural gas facility. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images) (credit: Getty Images)

The US Department of Energy (DOE) released a report late Wednesday night recommending that power markets revise how they value coal and nuclear power. The report also admits that low natural gas prices are a primary cause of recent coal plant closures.

The report has been controversial since its inception. In mid-April, Energy Secretary Rick Perry directed his team to study grid reliability and security for 60 days. Although the memo never mentioned renewables, it implicated “certain policies” that apparently unfairly threatened coal-burning plants.

That led critics to wonder whether renewable energy—critical for the mitigation of climate change—would get a fair shake in Perry’s study. Grid operators have been able to put a fair amount of renewable energy on the grid without reliability suffering, but the tone of Perry’s memo suggested that a conclusion contradicting that fact had been predetermined.

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