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"Nobody is seriously investing in storage"

I would suggest that anyone with more than a passing interest in this topic might consider gaining access to the IEEE Power and Energy Society. (Probably at your local university library.) Most of the publications are behind paywalls, but at least some material can be obtained at their website http://www.ieee-pes.org/

The reason I suggest this is that the membership of this society, made up of academics and practicing engineers, is really in the best place to consider and communicate the technical aspects of power generation, distribution, and management. They don't talk about politics much, though.

Regarding storage, obviously you need something like pumped storage, which is limited by geography and environmental considerations, or lots and lots of batteries. Batteries are expensive, so how do you get people to buy them? By putting them in cars, which are a consumer product that has 100 years of demonstrated demand, an outrageously short capital replacement cycle, and a price point that is tremendously skewed from what would be considered sensible in an objective analysis. Namely, people are willing to blow tons of money on cars when they could take the bus for a lot less money.

Plug-in hybrids and electric cars are all about energy storage, and they are serious, and there is a lot of investment.

by asdf on Sat Jan 7th, 2012 at 02:54:01 PM EST
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Here is a recent IEEE article about battery-based grid energy storage. It's not from the PES, but from the general interest IEEE magazine "Spectrum."

There is debate about the reality of this particular installation, and its economics, but the point is that there is interest and activity in the area of grid storage, possibly in proportion to its value and applicability. As the penetration of renewables increases, one would expect that any appropriate compensating systems like this, or other technologies or financial incentives or whatever would also be deployed.

by asdf on Sat Jan 7th, 2012 at 11:43:14 PM EST
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There is also the issue of the role of any given technology in the storage portfolio.

Running an HVDC grid to grid electricity superhighway is especially interesting when one side has substantial hydropower capacity, since that is a market that has a stockpile of quickly dispatchable power that is able to benefit from the UHVDC transmission capacity in both directions, buying power that is cheaper than the price that effectively ration the available supply of hydropower when available, and in turn being able to sell that hydropower capacity that has been freed up at a higher price.

On the side of that HVDC line where at some times the excess immediately harvested sustainable power is coming from and where at some other times the higher price bid for the hydropower capacity is coming from, there's an incentive to have at some local stored power capacity as well. If some of that local stored power is piles of biocoal by a thermal generating plant, then that seems likely to be complementary with some more quickly dispatched power store such as battery or modular hydro or whatever (eg, compressed air or compressed hydraulic power store), for the time period required between cold start and generating power, with similar production capacity but substantially less total power storage.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 02:20:38 PM EST
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