Last Friday, episode 51 of the Squeaky Clean Energy Podcast, “David Roberts on the Future of Energy Storage,” was released. Host Matt Abele interviews former Vox journalist David Roberts who, in December 2020, launched his own energy and politics newsletter called Volts. Roberts explains that Volts “features analysis of the latest research, technologies, and policy debates involved in the quest to leave behind fossil fuels, along with discussions of the social and political forces shaping the clean-energy transition.” Follow Roberts on Twitter (@drvolts) or subscribe to his newsletter.
In this episode, Matt and Roberts discuss the merits of flow, zinc, sodium-ion, and liquid metal batteries as replacements or supplements to the more popular lithium-ion batteries. Firstly, lithium-ion batteries excel in short term, home storage and for electric vehicles, making up the vast majority of those respective markets. To learn more about lithium-ion batteries and how they work, check out this entertaining article by Roberts.
However, for longer duration storage or for larger grid projects, Roberts delves into different types of mid-duration energy storage options that are more viable than lithium-ion batteries. Due to the costs of constructing and installing lithium-ion batteries, researchers are exploring long-lasting, high-capacity options for filling in the mid to long term energy storage market.
Flow batteries are one of the most well-known options where energy is stored in dissolved metals in fluids. Due to the technological properties, flow batteries separate power from energy stored, so expanding the capacity of each battery only requires enlarging the fluid tanks, making it quite cost effective.
Another long-term battery option is Liquid Metal batteries, created by Ambri, which currently cheaper than lithium-ion batteries in the long run and are systematically circular, making them easy to maintain. While similar in technology, sodium-ion and zinc-ion batteries are safer and cheaper than lithium-ion batteries. If interested, Roberts has written a comprehensive article on the future of long-duration energy storage in the market.
To learn more about energy storage, check out NCSEA’s dedicated page and this report by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association on issues relating to deployment of battery energy storage technologies. This episode also serves as a primer for upcoming episodes as part of NCSEA’s mini-series on energy storage.
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