“Oh Sweetie,” Meg A. Watt coaxed, “just come with me. I think you’ll be surprised!” So through the Energy Storage Expo doors they zipped.
“Hey look! It’s the ‘A’ triplets – they're so tiny!” Meg gushed. “But here’s the section I think you’ll really like,” she remarked pointing to the Hall of Energy Innovations. “These days there’s so much more to energy storage than lead-acid or even lithium batteries. You know, energy storage is a key component to a clean energy future.”
Meg went on to explain why. “Energy storage can provide backup power during disruptions. That makes the grid more flexible helping to ensure uninterrupted power. And, large-scale energy storage saves money by stockpiling inexpensive clean energy so it can be used later when and where it’s needed. That reduces the need for operating pollution-emitting peak-power plants. Finally, energy storage can smooth out variable and intermittent power sources like wind and solar for a more reliable and resilient electrical grid,” she concluded.
Walking in, Kyle expected to see complex arrays and strings of containers that looked more-or-less like a bunch of batteries joined together. To be sure, there were some of these using advanced lithium-ion technology or zinc-air batteries. He learned that zinc’s abundant supply, inherent stability, and low toxicity make this a promising new technology.
But beyond batteries, the next display showed how flywheels and resources such as molten salts, and phase-changing materials store heat energy for use as needed. Hydrogen storage technology is advancing quickly also. It could be used as a clean fuel for cars or for portable power supplies for buildings. Another storage innovation isn’t a “thing” at all; it’s a system. Distributed storage systems, like electric vehicles (EVs) and microgrids, allow individual facilities to produce energy on-site and save it for personal use as needed.
“Wow!” Kyle marveled, “someday I might be stored in one of these cool new ways! I’ll be all juiced up with economical, clean energy for some deserving family.”
Meg smiled and added, “These humans have the huge challenge of transitioning to a clean energy economy as quickly as possible. I know they’ll make it happen because this is the only home they’ll ever know. It’s where they’re all forever…Earthbound.”