The Quest for Ways to Store Energy

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

We have frequently discussed on this blog one of the major shortcomings of solar and wind energy — intermittency and the problem of storing energy. There was a reference in a recent discussion about new technologies and even “outlandish” new technologies.

Along those lines, I just ran across this article in The New Yorker describing some of the research going into developing cheaper and more efficient means to store energy. Some of them are sort of wacky. But, a few things are clear: The problem has been recognized, there is a lot of money being funneled into finding solutions, and there are some really smart people with impressive resumes getting into this area.

The article’s author clearly favors renewable energy, but seems to be clear-eyed about the current lack of storage capacity and the need to account for it, along with the problems associated with expanding our storage capacity. I don’t pretend to understand it all nor am I an advocate of any of the approaches. This is all in the experimental stage and is an example of the entrepreneurial spirit at work.

All in all, the article is pretty fascinating.  It even gives a favorable nod to the pumped storage facility in Virginia’s Bath County. (The New Yorker allows people to access up to six articles a month free.)