Renewable Energy Needs Grids With Long-Duration Storage – We’re Almost There

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

There’s no getting around the fact: renewable energy required grids have long-duration storage, and we just don’t have that infrastructure in place yet. It makes sense – operating a fully renewable grid is a lot different than running one fossil-fuel based. For starters, where operators could power up and down a natural gas plant however needed for demand. But in a renewable grid the wind and sun are the operator in that sense. It’s predictable, but it’s variable throughout the day. So in order to balance out when the power is available, we need long-duration storage.

As we mentioned – California is wasting tons of renewable energy that should be siphoned away for later. But many energy storage technologies built to address this need have failed to scale 💀

I like to think that more often than not the simplest solution is often the smartest (but not always the easiest to come up with). Lithium Ion Batteries are the ‘sexy’ technology but they’re complex, require a lot of mining to produce, can overheat, and degrade everytime they’re used. We might see a battery win in this space but if we do, I have my doubts that it will be the good ol’ Li. Mostly because of the simplicity of gravity.

Pumped Hydro:

🤘🏼Holds a MASSIVE amount of power.

♻️Already built infrastructure can be repurposed or expanded.

😓Permitting can be hard.

Stacked Blocks:

👌🏼Also uses gravity and cheap materials.

⭐️Install pretty much anywhere.

😕Storage limited by specially made blocks.

The Conclusion: 

It’s a bummer we can’t all have hydrothermal.

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