Developing an energy storage capacity that will enable renewable energy to move to a consistent source of power has been described as the 'Holy Grail' of energy policy and the U.S. are getting very close to a solution.
The U.S. Energy Department is funding 75 energy storage development projects, engaging scientists at MIT Standford, Harvard, and the elite Oak Ridge and Lawrence Livermore labs in a race to develop the ultimate battery storage facility.
The favourite technology is an organic flow battery which uses cheap and abundant chemicals such as rhubarb or oil waste. It is sustainable and 1,000 times faster than the flow batteries based on much more toxic chemicals and rare metals.
There are still issues to sort out with the 'calendar life' of the storage chemicals, however this is a very safe battery that won't catch fire and which Professor Michael Aziz, leader of the Harvard project, said "I would be very happy to put in my basement."
The Americans are looking to have developed the technology by 2025 and it will be a total game changer for the renewable energy industry.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, writing in The Telegraph comments that nuclear energy projects such as the troublesome and expensive Hinkley Point, "still made sense in 2013 before the collapse in global energy prices and before the latest leap forward in renewable technology. It is madness today."
Once storage costs can be delivered for $100 per kilowatt hour (the magic number in energy storage) there ceases to be any point in developing more expensive nuclear plants.
You can track the U.S. projects on Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E)
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Read more on The Telegraph website; article; 'Holy Grail of energy policy in sight as battery technology smashes the old order.'