Short Thoughts

Renewable Energy Storage

This article appeared again in my feed today, but it was originally written a year ago.
It asks a very relevant question, but then manages to get very confused during their answer.
The short versions of their answer is that to have 100% solar and wind electricity, energy storage cost would need to be around $20/kWh. (Which BTW is not the original question.) They then go on to note that if only 5% of the electricity generation is not from solar or wind, then the cost of storage would only need to come down to $150.
Which is quite a meaningful difference, especially if one takes into account that nuclear currently makes up about 20% of the USA electricity supply. And Hydropower, which is not going anywhere soon, is at 7.3%. So with about 27% of non-carbon based supply already in place, storage at even much more than $150/kWh will suffice.
But lets keep it at $150. The following storage technologies are below that already:
Lithium Ion Battery Packs - these are, on average, currently slightly below $140/kWh, with installations at below $100 for e-buses in China.
Pumped Hydro and Compressed Air Storage - The cost for these are already down to around $20/kWh, but the article is concerned about the availability of sites. However the used satellite imaging information to identify 530,000 viable sites around the world. This amounts to 100 TIMES the storage that is necessary for a 100% renewable grid.
The article concludes with: “The key is to develop storage technologies that can reach those low capital costs [of $20/kWh],” Chiang says. “I believe this kind of storage can be demonstrated at a pilot scale within the next five years.”
I disagree. The key is to follow an integrated holistic approach. And as I have shown, applying that, the world already has the technology to move to 100% renewables, it is just a question of getting the build work done. And again, not solar and wind, but non-carbon.

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