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Title: Earth Battery

It’s the bane of renewable energy. No matter how efficient photovoltaic cells become or how much power a wind turbine can capture, someone will counter with, “What happens when the sun goes down and wind doesn’t blow?” And the person who poses that question uses it as an argument in favor of traditional baseload power. While it’s true that the way the electrical grid has developed in North America and Europe doesn’t lend itself to the start-and-stop, opportunistic nature of wind and solar, there are ways to meet the challenge. Electricity can be stored in batteries or water pumped uphill into reservoirs when power generation exceeds demand, to be tapped when needed. Unfortunately, utility-scale battery storage is prohibitively expensive, and pumped hydro is possible only in particular geographic locations. What is needed is a large-scale, distributed, dispatchable energy storage system that can smooth out a renewable energy generation profile that changes by the minute as well as over the course of the day or the season. Colleagues from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Ohio State University (led by Jeffrey Bielicki), and the University of Minnesota (led by Jimmy Randolph), and I have developed a system that can do all that.more » What’s more, this system actually sequesters carbon dioxide—a gas implicated in global climate change—as part of its normal operation. Furthermore, we have modeled our system and found that, if it can be successfully demonstrated in the field, it could provide utility-scale diurnal and seasonal energy storage (many hundreds of MWe) and dispatchable power, while permanently sequestering CO 2 from industrial-scale fossil-energy power plants. Certainly, an energy storage system is only as clean or as green as the primary generation it’s working with. But it is going to be difficult to implement solar or wind power to a degree high enough to make a difference in global carbon dioxide emissions without utility-scale energy storage.« less
  1. Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0025-6501
Grant/Contract Number:
AC52-07NA27344; FOA-0000336; NSF-SEP1230691
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Mechanical Engineering
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 137; Journal Issue: 12; Journal ID: ISSN 0025-6501
Research Org:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE; National Science Foundation (NSF)
Country of Publication:
United States
OSTI Identifier: