Flow batteries, which can store huge amounts of energy, now hold the potential to smooth out the power from renewables and help usher in the rise of more resilient microgrids, reports Martin LaMonica at Newscientist. Flow batteries are centred around two aqueous electrolytes, held in separate tanks when the battery is idle. To get electricity from it, the liquids are pumped into a chamber separated by a membrane, sparking an electron-producing chemical reaction across the membrane. To store energy, an external current is applied across the membrane and the process works in reverse.The batteries’ size – they can be as big as shipping containers – and ability to store large amounts of energy make them well suited to smoothing out the variable supply of wind, solar and other renewable energies. But they are expensive, and their pumps and tubes make them difficult to maintain. Several firms, including Primus Power, and EnerVault, are now bringing to market designs that they say address those concerns. The vision? A vista of self-sufficient microgrids that store their own energy and are far more resilient than our present giant electrical grid.
Join the swelling numbers of voters TELLING Congress they’ll vote for Clean Energy candidates here: http://signon.org/sign/we-are-the-clean-99?source=c.em.cp&r_by=487176 . This is an ongoing campaign (the next Congressional election is in 2 years!) so please, spread the word. It’s our way of telling Congress that a strong clean energy voting bloc is out there. This is how YOU can make a difference.
For more on Climate Change, check out my weekly column at the HuffingtonPost, Climate Change This Week : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/index.php?author=mary-ellen-harte