Barrier Breaking Batteries Going Gangbusters

July 18, 2013

Point one. New Battery tech keeps barreling along, and is becoming a no brainer solution to peak load problems, with or without renewable energy sources.


“Energy storage is no longer an idea and a theory — it’s actually a practical reality,” said Steve Hellman, Eos’s president. “You’re seeing a lot of commercial activity in the energy storage sector.”

Part of the appeal is economic: utilities could buy power from centralized plants during off-peak hours, when it is cheaper, and use it to feed the grid at peak hours when it is typically more expensive. That could also relieve congestion on some transmission lines, reducing strain and the need to spend money upgrading or repairing them. In addition, batteries could help integrate more renewable sources like solar and wind into the power grid, smoothing out their intermittent production.

“Energy storage in general has been kind of a holy grail for utilities — a lot of the generation and demand is instantaneous,” said Joseph Carbonara, project manager in research and development at Con Edison, who is managing the Eos program. “The utilities have always been looking to buffer that.”

…the technology has generally proved too expensive for widespread adoption.

Eos says it has gotten around that problem. Its battery relies on zinc, a relatively plentiful and cheap element. The company projects that its cost will be $160 a kilowatt-hour, and that it would provide electricity cheaper than a new gas power plant built to help fulfill periods of high demand, Eos executives said. Other battery technologies can range from $400 to about $1,000 a kilowatt-hour.

Just so you caught that – storage technology is now competitive with, even cheaper than, the natural gas turbines that have been the “go-t0” solution for several decades.

Meanwhile, the gas industry pushes ahead to raise prices still further.
I stopped studying econ at the 101 level,  – but, is there anyone out there who does not see where this is going?

American drillers have done so well with the controversial method of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to reach underground stores of natural gas that they now have too much on their hands and want to export some of it abroad. But such a move could result in higher gas prices in the U.S., as well as even more fracking operations that can endanger the environment.

In Louisiana, Cheniere Energy‘s $10-billion Sabine Pass natural gas terminal originally built to import natural gas is now being converted to facilitate the shipping of fracking-produced gas to Great Britain. Initial shipments are scheduled for 2015, with nearly 20 tons of natural gas to be transported per year.

Companies such as Exxon Mobil and Sempra Energy have asked the Obama administration for permission to export as much as 29 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day.

These efforts represent quite a turnaround for the industry. Less than a decade ago, domestic production of natural gas was so low that facilities were being built in U.S. ports to import foreign natural gas.

But the fracking revolution has produced an abundance of natural gas, causing the price to drop to around $4 per million BTU (British Thermal Unit).

All of this may be good news for gas companies, but not necessarily good for consumers or the environment.

Consumer groups and some manufacturers that use natural gas oppose expanded exports, claiming the exports could drive up domestic prices and make manufacturing more expensive.

11 Responses to “Barrier Breaking Batteries Going Gangbusters”

  1. junkdrawer88 Says:

    Seen This?

    Donald Sadoway: The missing link to renewable energy .

    • petersjazz Says:

      Yes, sean it. But it will take some time before US has the same amount of renewable as Germany and they seams to manage. But they also have an interest in storage

    • MorinMoss Says:

      Sadoway is a fast-talking salesman but as all salesmen do, he was overselling his “product”.

      He gave a long talk about Mg-Sb ( magnesium-antimony ) but the company he formed, now called Ambri has abandoned that combination in favor of some unknown one although their brochure still refers to Mg-Sb

      Click to access ambri-brochure.pdf

      But, at the bottom left of , you see:

      “The Chemistry
      Ambri’s liquid metal battery was initially based on magnesium and antimony as the negative and positive electrodes, respectively, and a low cost molten salt electrolyte. Since then, Ambri has transitioned to using higher voltage and lower cost chemistries.”

      Yet they expect to have a shipping product in 2014???

      I remain skeptical but hopeful – affordable, dense stationary storage would be a huge boon to renewable generation.

      • junkdrawer88 Says:

        Fast-talking salesman? I’d say more like fast-talking entrepreneur in search of big investors. But, thar’s what it takes to get the kind of bucks to make it happen.

        Just hope the science is as sound as the pitch. Better batteries of all types will be key if we’re to replace coal and oil.

        • MorinMoss Says:

          I would like nothing better than to have cheap, power-dense storage tomorrow but decades of earth-shattering announcements that either go nowhere or give only incremental improvement have disillusioned me.

          What is the benefit of, for example, Magnesium-Antimony over Sodium-Sulfur?

  2. grlcowan Says:

    Sinclair avoids using the word “breakthrough”. Over the years, one or two others of those have been projected by interested parties.

    If the battery’s charge/discharge lifetime is only 1000 cycles, the cost per kWh delivered from storage will of course exceed 16 cents.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      very rarely do we see paradigm shifting breakthroughs. What we generally see is the
      continuing marginal improvement of existing technologies, punctuated by
      occasional quantum leaps. Often those quantum leaps aren’t due to some
      completely new invention, but rather a wider application of existing knowledge.
      The internet for instance, was not some kind of new-out-of-the-box invention,
      but rather a product of steady improvement and critical mass of existing
      We are seeing that same dynamic happen with the electrical grid, which
      is producing a paradigm shift now, that will be evident to all in the coming

  3. […] Point one. New Battery tech keeps barreling along, and is becoming a no brainer solution to peak load problems, with or without renewable energy sources. NYTimes: “Energy storage is no longer an id…  […]

  4. petersjazz Says:

    Natural gas is not better than coal for the climate

  5. Bruce Miller Says:

    America always had a surplus of coal and oil . . . until now! They also had the most advanced (for its time) nuclear energy. China now bids competitively for the world’s oil and what is more they have made eons in advances in Solar, Wind, Wave, Hydro, Tidal, Geothermal and Biological domestic electric technologies and developments, more over they will debut in 2017, a whole new nuclear technology based on Thorium LFTR styled reactors that are 99% efficient, yield little harmful wastes, and are cheaper to build than conventional American styled reactors! SEE: ‎Kun Chen from Chinese Academy of Sciences on China Thorium . . . and even a liquid diesel like fuel form CO2 wastes and air, as described in this video. Can America compete with this? She must to survive! My interest has always been super insulators ie., Straw Bale Housing at “R” 60+ with new hydrophobic treatments, virtually mold proof? I wonder. GM (usa) has a second contender in the electric car field now, the “Spark” that looks pretty good for the big city commutes, and we can expect further improvements as the electric storage field has exploded with research all well funded and of prime national security importance. nano graphite super capacitors exist, graphene exists Li batteries as never before ! We are on the cusp of the electric car in this nation and along comes liquid metal storage systems that work! Very exciting future for America if we just let go of the Twentieth Century Golden Age and embrace this twenty first technological age!

  6. MorinMoss Says:

    So the EoS system is a zinc-air flow battery? They’re making a lot of bold claims about performance, durability and innovations to resolve problems.

    If this lives up to the hype, then the very good news, apart from cost and impressive energy density is that zinc is much, much, much more abundant than lithium and North Am has a big chunk of proven reserves.

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