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Long-Term Storage

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John Benson's picture
Senior Consultant Microgrid Labs

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Microgrid Labs, Inc. Advisor: 2014 to Present Developed product plans, conceptual and preliminary designs for projects, performed industry surveys and developed...

  • Member since 2013
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  • Jun 16, 2020

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This paper will describe long-term storage technologies, some economic considerations, and recent developments.

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jun 16, 2020

"California has very aggressive greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets. That is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045."

John, California's "very aggressive" GHG reduction targets are designed to fail. From Senate Bill 100:

"The Legislature finds and declares that [CA agencies] ...should plan for 100 percent of total retail sales of electricity in California to come from eligible renewable energy resources and zero-carbon resources by December 31, 2045."

California agencies "should plan" for 100% zero-carbon electricity by 2045? That SB-100 represents any kind of commitment would be a joke if its implications weren't so serious.

Same goes for the phrase "carbon neutrality" (which exists nowhere in CA law, by the way). It suggests we can use magical accounting to make 2 + 2 = 11, to reduce the emissions of our $80K RVs to net-zero by planting trees, or using fewer plastic straws, or banning plastic grocery bags.

Bottom line: there is no justifiable plan, using renewables and storage, to achieve zero-carbon electricity by 2045. It remains wishful thinking, almost like it was designed to fail. Actually, very much like that.

Mark Howitt's picture
Mark Howitt on Jun 23, 2020

Compressed air energy storage (CAES) ... end up being very expensive systems, and there are a limited number of suitable sites.

No. Regarding "expensive", you're looking at SmartCAES and other traditional CAES. Adiabatic CAES such as ours is the same price but 70% efficient for the first-off, improving over time - that's better than batteries. (We measure efficiency grid-to-grid, lifetime-average - and the life of CAES plants is 40-50 years.) It's much cheaper at large scale and long duration than batteries, and doesn't have the resource constraints: there isn't enough lithium in the earth's crust for all the vehicles of this world, let alone the world's grids, even ignoring (a) portable devices and (b) the fact that batteries don't last forever. And there's less cobalt and even less rare-earth metals.

Regarding "a limited number of suitable sites", there is enough salt basin potential to store enough electricity to power America for well over a fortnight - and much more in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Unfortunately it isn't distributed evenly throughout the country (though better in the other regions), but after the first will have been built, we'll be looking to enable CAES in other geologies such as deep aquifers (too deep for drinking, and there's no contamination from air) and depleted hydrocarbon wells - these would spread the appropriate geologies more evenly around the nation. (There's also lots of salt cavern potential in Canada and Mexico.)

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