At this event a poll was taken asking which CleanTech issues were perceived as being most important/having the most potential by the investment community – the answers were Energy Efficiency and Energy Storage.
I have seen several posts here on efficiency but none on energy storage so I said I’d start one.
What are the most interesting energy storage solutions people are seeing emerging.
I’ll kick off –
The two most interesting I have seen are
1. Thermal storage using heavily insulated bricks (!) for domestic energy storage (resistive heating) and
2. Metal air batteries – zinc air batteries are scheduled to come to market later this year. Zinc is abundant, cheap, non-toxic, non-explosive and readily recyclable. Zinc air batteries have an energy density about two to three times that of lithium ion batteries.
With that energy density and price point, it should be possible to build utility scale storage (allowing renewables to store excess energy when the wind is blowing strongly, and sell it when the wind drops or demand increases, for example).
Are there any other options people are seeing (and let’s leave pumped hydro out of this discussion – it is old tech, expensive and has significant environmental impacts).
One of the respondents pointed me to news out of Stanford in December that Stanford scientists are harnessing nanotechnology to quickly produce ultra-lightweight, bendable batteries and supercapacitors in from everyday paper!
What other interesting forms of energy storage have you come across?
I saw a report on the Green Data Center Blog today that a new industry group called GreenTouch has been formed with the express aim of reducing the amount of energy communications networks (including the Internet) use.
deliver the architecture, specifications and roadmap — and demonstrate key components — needed to reduce energy consumption per user by a factor of 1000 from current levels.
This is an incredibly ambitious aim and one that you might be inclined to dismiss if it were not for the fact that its members include from industry Bell Labs, AT&T, and China Mobile; MIT and Stanford University from the academic world; and The French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control from government – the full list from the GreenTouch members page is:
With the use of the Internet and mobile phone networks merging and growing daily with people uploading photos and video from their mobile phones to the Internet for example, this is a very timely development. From the network provider’s perspective, the ability to drastically reduce the costs associated with running these networks has to be compelling.
Similarly, for large organisations who run significant internal and external communications networks, any opportunity to tackle communications overheads and their energy-related emissions will be welcomed. In an era when the air-travel experience is becoming increasingly onerous due to increased security restrictions, the potential to shrink the price of alternatives such as telepresence solutions, will also be a boon.
Also, the utility companies, with their need to significantly invest in communication networks in the next few years as they roll out their smart grids, must be looking at this announcement with a lot of interest.
Gee Rittenhouse, the head of Research for Bell Labs explains more about GreenTouch in the video below: