Renewable energy storage problems may be solved with the help of a new battery design

Renewable energy storage problems may be solved with the help of a new battery design

May 2, 2013 0 By Angie Bergenson
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New battery could make renewable energy more favorable to modern energy grids

Renewable energy is becoming a more popular concept throughout the world. More countries are beginning to embrace renewable energy for economic and environmental purposes, but are still faced with significant challenges when it comes to actually using clean power. One of the most significant of these challenges involves storage and how clean energy can be fed into existing energy grids. Researchers from the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University in the U.S. may have found a way to solve this problem.

Current grids are not accommodating of renewable energy

Researchers have developed a new low-cost, long-life battery that could make renewable energy more cohesive with current energy grids. Conventional energy grids are not expressly designed to accommodate renewable energy, as they were developed with fossil-fuels in mind. While renewable energy can be funneled into an existing energy grid, the process is inefficient and much of this electrical power ends up lost. Instead of investing in modernizing the energy grid, which can be a very costly endeavor, making use of storage systems, like batteries, that can convert renewable energy into a more compliant form of power is being considered an adequate alternative.

Battery designed to be more affordable without sacrificing performance

Stanford University Renewable Energy Research

The new battery system developed by researchers makes use of a single stream of molecules, unlike other batteries, and does not rely on a membrane that allows ions to pass between the liquid contained in the battery without interacting with active ions within the battery itself. This design makes the battery exceptionally less expensive than its conventional counterparts, but researchers note that the design does not force the battery to sacrifice performance. Initial tests have shown that the new battery design is capable of 2,000 charges and discharges, roughly equivalent to more than 5 years of daily use.

Utility version under development

A utility-scale version of the battery design is currently in development. This battery system could be the key to make renewable energy more viable for the existing energy needs of the country, without having to fund grid modernization efforts. In this sense, the battery system could also help alleviate the high costs that are often associated with the adoption of renewable energy.