Innovation That Matters

Long-duration storage options mitigate the effects of extreme weather on green energy availability | Photo source Iwona Castiello d'Antonio on Unsplash

Grid-scale storage for green energy

Agriculture & Energy

The new flow batteries are cheap and durable, making long-term energy storage much easier on a large-scale

Spotted: An estimated three-quarters of the world’s total carbon emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels for energy. Green energy sources are a necessary alternative – indeed, around 12 per cent of the electricity generated in the U.S. already comes from wind and solar power – but in order for these energy sources to play a bigger part in electricity production, operators need to better store this energy so that it may more reliably meet consumer demand. A group of Harvard researchers has developed a new redox-flow battery which has now been licensed to Quino Energy, so that it may be commercialised and used on a larger scale.

Other flow batteries, which are necessary for continuous power when sun or wind is not available, are expensive to produce and contain mined materials, so are not easily scalable. In contrast, after carefully selecting molecules based on their stability and energy density, Harvard’s team has created a water-soluble alternative that, when subject to the occasional voltage pulse, has a much longer lifespan and is cheaper to run than other flow batteries.

Roy Gordon, who helped lead the Harvard team, states: “Our students have been very diligent in identifying molecules that can stand up to the conditions they’ll encounter in a battery in various states. Based on our findings, we’re optimistic that flow batteries filled with cheap and abundant elements have the potential to supply the future need for enhanced electricity storage.”

Quino Energy has recently received $4.58 million (approximately €4.36 million) from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to scale their batteries.

Energy storage is one of the biggest obstacles in making green energy a reliable provider across the grid. Springwise has spotted other solutions attempting to overcome this storage barrier, including the storing of electrical energy in zinc, and a thermal energy storage tank.

Written By: Matilda Cox



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