Has This Start-up Solved Grid Storage?

July 22, 2021

Maybe.

Industry eyes have been on Form Energy, a battery start-up that includes an impressive array of tech alumnae on its roster.

The company signed a deal a year ago with the surprisingly progressive Minnesota Electric Co-op, Great River Energy, to provide a one megawatt demonstration battery, that would, according to reports, store grid energy and be able to release it for as long as 150 hours. A game changer if true.
It is, in any case, part of what one quoted expert below calls “..a Cambrian explosion” of grid storage technology.

Today, Wall Street Journal has this.

Wall Street Journal:

A four-year-old startup says it has built an inexpensive battery that can discharge power for days using one of the most common elements on Earth: iron.

Form Energy Inc.’s batteries are far too heavy for electric cars. But it says they will be capable of solving one of the most elusive problems facing renewable energy: cheaply storing large amounts of electricity to power grids when the sun isn’t shining and wind isn’t blowing.

The work of the Somerville, Mass., company has long been shrouded in secrecy and nondisclosure agreements. It recently shared its progress with The Wall Street Journal, saying it wants to make regulators and utilities aware that if all continues to go according to plan, its iron-air batteries will be capable of affordable, long-duration power storage by 2025.

Its backers include Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a climate investment fund whose investors include Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos. Form recently initiated a $200 million funding round, led by a strategic investment from steelmaking giant ArcelorMittal SA, MT -0.64% one of the world’s leading iron-ore producers.

Form is preparing to soon be in production of the “kind of battery you need to fully retire thermal assets like coal and natural gas” power plants, said the company’s chief executive, Mateo Jaramillo, who developed Tesla Inc.’s Powerwall battery and worked on some of its earliest automotive powertrains.

On a recent tour of Form’s windowless laboratory, Mr. Jaramillo gestured to barrels filled with low-cost iron pellets as its key advantage in the rapidly evolving battery space. Its prototype battery, nicknamed Big Jim, is filled with 18,000 pebble-size gray pieces of iron, an abundant, nontoxic and nonflammable mineral.

For a lithium-ion battery cell, the workhorse of electric vehicles and today’s grid-scale batteries, the nickel, cobalt, lithium and manganese minerals used currently cost between $50 and $80 per kilowatt-hour of storage, according to analysts.

Using iron, Form believes it will spend less than $6 per kilowatt-hour of storage on materials for each cell. Packaging the cells together into a full battery system will raise the price to less than $20 per kilowatt-hour, a level at which academics have said renewables plus storage could fully replace traditional fossil-fuel-burning power plants.

A battery capable of cheaply discharging power for days has been a holy grail in the energy industry, due to the problem that it solves and the potential market it creates.

Regulators and power companies are under growing pressure to deliver affordable, reliable and carbon-free electricity, as countries world-wide seek to reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions linked to climate change. Most electricity generation delivers two out of three. A long-duration battery could enable renewable energy—wind and solar—to deliver all three.

Form Energy’s iron-air battery breathes in oxygen and converts iron to rust, then turns the rust back into iron and breathes out oxygen, discharging and charging the battery in the process.

“There is a Cambrian explosion of new storage technologies and in a Darwinian sense, they are not all going to survive. But the prize is huge both for investors and for society,” says Ramez Naam, a clean-energy investor who isn’t involved with Form Energy.

Previous high-profile efforts to develop better batteries have arced from hope and hype to bankruptcy. But since Form was created in 2017, it has attracted speculation and intrigue within the industry due to the track records of its founders. They include Mr. Jaramillo and Yet-Ming Chiang, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who co-founded A123 Systems Inc., a lithium-battery pioneer.

Mr. Jaramillo earned degrees in economics and a master’s degree from the Yale Divinity School before switching to a career developing new batteries. After more than seven years at Tesla, he left in 2016 to pursue what he called “The Next Thing” on his LinkedIn page. He didn’t provide any details, but he wanted to build an inexpensive battery for the grid. He was close to signing a funding sheet for a new company when Mr. Chiang called him.

Mr. Chiang arrived at MIT as an undergraduate and joined the faculty less than a decade later. He started working on a long-duration battery in 2012 as part of a Energy Department collaboration. In 2017, he was also working on long-duration batteries and he and Mr. Jaramillo decided to together create Form Energy. 

They recruited other battery-industry veterans. “The founding team has 100 years of battery experience,” says Mr. Chiang. “We’re the alumni of a generation of failed battery companies who all came back for more.”

In early 2018, they began small-scale tests, the Ph.D. material scientist’s version of a middle-school science fair’s potato battery, using small pieces of metal wrapped in hardware-store hose clamps at the bottom of translucent measuring cups. Form tested different configurations: sulfur-iron, sulfur-air, sulfur-manganese and iron-air. By the end of the year, iron-air looked the most promising.

In 2020, as work was moving quickly, Form caught a break. It needed a critical battery component called a cathode that was impermeable to water but breathed oxygen, like a Gore-Tex jacket. An Arizona battery company, NantEnergy Inc., had spent a decade building such a membrane for a zinc-air battery. Owner Patrick Soon-Shiong, a billionaire biotechnology entrepreneur who owns the Los Angeles Times, wound down operations last year to focus on other investments.

Form bought its patents as well as its inventory of thousands of cathodes, which sit in cardboard boxes in a corner of the company’s building. “Having this piece nailed down allowed us to hit the accelerator,” said Mr. Jaramillo.

Late last summer, Form built a one-meter-tall (roughly 3.3-foot-tall) battery it called Slim Jim because it had the dimensions of a trash can of the same name. Earlier this year, it built Big Jim, a full-scale one-meter-by-one-meter battery cell. If it works as expected, 20 of these cells will be grouped in a battery. Thousands of these batteries will be strung together, filling entire warehouses and storing weeks’ worth of electricity. It could take days to fully charge these battery systems, but the batteries can discharge electricity for 150 hours at a stretch.

In 2023, Form plans to deploy a one-megawatt battery capable of discharging continuously for more than six days and says it is in talks with several utilities about battery deployments.

Great River Energy:

Great River Energy is developing a long-duration energy storage pilot project on a 1-acre site adjacent to its natural gas peaking plant in Cambridge, Minnesota. The Cambridge Energy Storage Project will be a 1 MW, grid-connected storage system capable of delivering its rated power continuously for 150 hours, far longer than the four-hour usage period available from utility-scale lithium-ion batteries today. The battery is expected to be complete by the end of 2023.

“Commercially viable long-duration storage could increase reliability by ensuring that the power generated by renewable energy is available at all hours to serve our membership,” said Jon Brekke, vice president and chief power supply officer at Great River Energy. “Such storage could be particularly important during extreme weather conditions that last several days. Long-duration storage also provides an excellent hedge against volatile energy prices.”

Great River Energy is working with Form Energy of Somerville, Massachusetts, on the project. This is the first commercial deployment of Form Energy’s proprietary long-duration energy storage technology.

Form Energy’s aqueous air battery system uses safe, cheap and abundant materials. Form Energy was founded in 2017 and has raised more than $50 million in funding. Investors include MIT and Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

41 Responses to “Has This Start-up Solved Grid Storage?”

  1. jimbills Says:

    Every week seems to have an announcement of some new world-saving technology. It’s difficult to take them seriously.

    However, on the surface at least – this one makes sense to me. Storage for an entire grid should be considered in different frameworks than storage for personal items like cars and cell phones. Plus, we’re going to have enough of a difficulty on a global level mining the lithium and other resources needed just for transport. Adding the entire electrical grid on top of that using the same technologies and resources for storage is ‘perhaps’ unrealistic.

    But, due to multitude of previously promising tech announcements that have led nowhere, until this ‘Cambrian explosion’ makes it tangibly into the market, it’ll have to be put into the ‘maybe’ pile (could be cell phone tech or it could be Segway tech) for me.

  2. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    Form Energy Inc.’s batteries are far too heavy for electric cars.

    Screw that. As it is it’s very wasteful to use all of those lightweight Li+ batteries for slab-based applications—as you’ve heard me whine before—and we should be saving them for cars and e-toys.

    “There is a Cambrian explosion of new storage technologies and in a Darwinian sense, they are not all going to survive. But the prize is huge both for investors and for society,” says Ramez Naam, a clean-energy investor who isn’t involved with Form Energy.

    We should anticipate failures of some technologies and a lot of individual ventures, but still end up with a profusion of cool tech, batallions of new engineers with material science and/or industrial-grade power expertise, and good local management/maintenance jobs. (Sorry, Greta, but jobs are useful both in getting buy-in and in helping lower-income people deal with climate change.)

  3. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    James William and Rhymeswithchicka. Repeat! And once more into the breach.

  4. John Swallow Says:

    “Form Energy Inc.’s batteries are far too heavy for electric cars. But it says they will be capable of solving one of the most elusive problems facing renewable energy: cheaply storing large amounts of electricity to power grids when the sun isn’t shining and wind isn’t blowing.”

    There has to be a real attraction for these companies to be taking in huge sums of money to try to reinvent the wheel as far as storing electrical AC current energy.
    It is a fact that Pumped storage is the only proven way to store electrical energy that would be sufficient to power the grid; but, as this states below, it uses more energy than can be recovered from pump storage.
    “Pumped storage hydroelectricity generation is negative because most pumped storage electricity generation facilities use more electricity than they produce on an annual basis. Most pumped storage systems use fossil fuels or nuclear energy for pumping water to the storage component of the system.”
    https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      It is a fact that Pumped storage is the only proven way to store electrical energy that would be sufficient to power the grid; but, as this states below, it uses more energy than can be recovered from pump storage.

      The whole point of grid storage is to store energy when it is cheap and/or abundant and release energy when it is expensive and/or more in demand. (Why aren’t you complaining that fossil fuels have been using storage tanks to hold excess production for use later?)

      We’re talking about developing technologies that are better than what we have now, and you’re complaining about what we already have. Hello? The point is to improve some aspect of capacity, efficiency or reliability.

      When people were first discussing mobile phone technology, you would have been whining that mobile phones are impossible because all of the phones you know about are hooked up to the wall.

      • John Swallow Says:

        rhymeswithgoalie Says: “Hello? The point is to improve some aspect of capacity, efficiency or reliability”. That was done long before any of you climate alarmist ever came on the scene with your nonsense about how an essential for all terrestrial life on Earth, CO₂, could cause for the Earth be incinerated. Coal still supplies most of the world’s needed energy and what do the climate alarmist supply that humanity requires; nothing, is the short and proper answer?
        This is some of the TRUTH about coal that simple folks can’t seem to get through their minds clouded with the fear that the sky is falling over the hoax of anthropogenic global warming.
        “‘Earth Hour?!’ Celebrate Coal not Candles: ‘It was coal that produced clean electric power which cleared the smog produced by dirty combustion & open fires in big cities like London and Pittsburgh’
        ‘It was coal that saved the forests being felled to fuel the first steam engines and produce charcoal for the first iron smelters. It was coal that powered the light bulbs and saved the whales being slaughtered for whale oil lamps. Without coal, we would be back in the dark days of candles, wood stoves, chip heaters, open fires, smoky cities, hills bare of trees and streets knee deep in horse manure’

        I do wish that rhymeswithgoalie could answer my request for the empirical experiment, that is repeatable, that demonstrates that the essential for all terrestrial life on Earth trace gas, that makes up only between .03-.04% of the Earth’s atmosphere and is 1.6 times more dense than that rest of the atmosphere, CO₂, has the ability to change the Earth’s climate.

        “The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement” Karl Popper
        “Skepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the unpardonable sin.” Huxley

        • redskylite Says:

          Well the USAF discovered the GHG heat blanket effect when they were developing anti-aircraft missiles in the 1950’s and it is well documented in all decent physics science books.

          It seems it is mainly politics and misinformation media platforms that causes people to ignore these facts.
          ===============================================
          The physics of climate change was described in the 1800s by scientist Eunice Foote

          “Politicians, however, have been slow to respond. Some follow an approach that has been used by some fossil fuel companies of denying and casting doubt on the truth, while others want to “wait and see,” despite the overwhelming evidence that harm and costs will continue to rise.”

          https://theconversation.com/scientists-understood-physics-of-climate-change-in-the-1800s-thanks-to-a-woman-named-eunice-foote-164687

          • redskylite Says:

            and I wouldn’t deny the benefit mankind has received in the past with coal and fossil fuel usage (and whale oil before that), but we have continued exploiting the legacy of the Carboniferous Period for far too long and need to curtail and decease exploiting it, for the benefit of present life on earth.

          • John Swallow Says:

            The Earth could stand to have more of this trace gas that is the bases for all terrestrial life on Earth. Obviously any one so brainwashed regarding this devil in the sky that they have invented CO₂ to be the agent of doom for the Earth would not acknowledge that dinosaurs that roamed the Earth 250 million years ago knew a world with five times more carbon dioxide than is present on Earth today. That is 417 ppm X 5 = 2,085 ppm. The Earth and the dinosaurs lived in harmony with those levels of CO₂ until the asteroid hit the Earth in the Yucatan Peninsula and pretty well changed things and people need to know that the 2,085 ppm of CO₂ didn’t have one damn thing to do with the end of the dinosaurs.

        • redskylite Says:

          “Much of the work on the details of the interaction between radiation and gases in the air was done by the US Air Force just after World War II and applied to topics such as sensors on heat-seeking missiles, as told in the introduction to this chapter. A missile uses a sensor to “see” the infrared radiation from a hot engine, but greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and water vapor block the view in some wavelengths by absorbing that radiation. Because the gases interact with radiation traveling in any direction, and there is much more energy in those wavelengths going up from the sun-warmed Earth than coming down from military bombers, the warming influence of the greenhouse gases is unavoidable.”

          https://www.e-education.psu.edu/earth104/node/1258

          • John Swallow Says:

            I have seen the Franz Josef Glacier on two separate occasions during my three trips to New Zealand and it is now growing instead of retreating. Richard B. Alley may claim that the greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and water vapor block the view in some wavelengths by absorbing that radiation; but he did not point out that the trace gas, CO₂, is also 1.6 times heavier than the rest of the atmosphere that it is a very small part of. Anyone using logic knows that something that is heavier that the rest of the atmosphere tends to sink and that is why CO₂ is used in fire extinguishers because it smothers out the fires. It is the H₂O in the atmosphere that would interfere with a missile using a sensor to “see” the infrared radiation from a hot engine and not a very trace gas like CO₂.

            What is the atmosphere of Earth made of? Earth’s atmosphere is 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.9% argon, and 0.03% carbon dioxide with very small percentages of other elements. Our atmosphere also contains water vapor. In addition, Earth’s atmosphere contains traces of dust particles, pollen, plant grains and other solid particles. http://coolcosmos.ipac.caltech.edu/ask/64-What-is-the-atmosphere-of-Earth-made-of

          • John Swallow Says:

            What follows demonstrates what a trace gas, CO₂, that is 1.6 times heavier that the rest of the atmosphere does in the atmosphere it is in, it tends to sink to ground level.
            Abstract
            The catastrophic event at Lake Nyos in August 1986 has resulted in a major scientific debate concerning its origin and how to prevent new casualties of this nature in future. We have tried, in the present paper, to interrelate the testimonies in time and place, and to interpret them in geological terms. It has been possible to draw a hazard map of the catastrophe and reconstruct the sequence of the events. It began on August 20, 1986 with minor upwelling of hot water. On August 21, 1986, a small explosion occurred in Lake Nyos followed in the evening by an intermittent jet of water topped by a white plume. At 10 p.m. a major detonation occurred in the lake and carbon dioxide invaded the low lying valleys, killing more than 1500 people and 6000 head of cattle. The all scientific community agree: gases have a magmatic origin. Two scenarios have been used to describe the catastrophe: the volcanic origin scenario: a gas jet splitted across the lake water, and the limnic origin scenario: gases were stored in the lake water and an internal or external phenomenon triggered the degassing. In the volcanic origin scenario prevention of degassing is impossible, any volcanic area can present this danger in, or outside lakes; prediction will proceed with usual methods. In the limnic scenario both prediction and prevention are possible: the only dangerous area are located around lakes containing dissolved gases prevention can be obtain by pumping and degassing the deep waters to the surface. In the present paper, testimonies have been used to test both hypotheses.
            http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1992JVGR…51..171L

          • redskylite Says:

            heard all your points on trace gases etc. before from Ken Ring a local denier, and guy who predicts earthquakes from old astrological computer programs. I know there is nopoint in debating it with you, so I

          • redskylite Says:

            will cease wasting my time.

          • J4Zonian Says:

            I understand leaving this turd in the yard where the criminals left it, and going on with your life. I also get why Peter allows certain trolls although I disagree with giving dishonest, manipulative, climate denying delayalists a forum. Thanks for taking Swallows on as much as you have. It’s a frustrating job, dealing with unrepentant delusional liars operating in the service of psychopaths. Welcome back any time.

          • Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

            To Redsky, Jayfour,, RWC and anybody have missed. Admire the fortitude you show in reading swallows tripe, let alone correcting it. At my age, giving a poop about such drivel has thankfully passed.

        • J4Zonian Says:

          Swallows has accused me of cowardice because I do what most people do on the net, use a nom de plume. Of course s/he’s accused me of a lot of ridiculous things; it’s just a way for Swallows to attack, like all his or her other non sequitur insults, because s/he has no purchase on reality and no basises for any of the attacks.

          If blind faith is an unpardonable sin, Swallows is by far the most guilty person here; s/he has or at least claims blind faith in some of the most despicable men on Earth. It’s why I call him Swallows. All of them including Swallows are lying in service of psychopaths.

          “basis” is spelled “basis”.

          When one is accusing more than one person of being an alarmist there’s an “s” at the end. It’s how thing like that work in English.

          And you see the problem with the internet; you never know when someone is lying–about their name, their gender, their sources and beliefs., the subject, everything.

          Is this Swallows?

          Former Utah Attorney General John Swallow, ousted by scandal, wants his old post back
          Alan Crooks, a spokesman for Reyes, remarked that Swallow is “apparently claiming to be innocent.”
          “I would give you a comment on that,” Crooks said, “but I can’t stop laughing.”
          https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2020/03/19/former-utah-attorney/

          Or is s/he some other Swallows?

          “I would give you a comment on that,” Crooks said, “but I can’t stop laughing.”

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          That was done long before any of you climate alarmist ever came on the scene with your nonsense about how an essential for all terrestrial life on Earth, CO₂, could cause for the Earth be incinerated.

          CO2 are vertebrates’ waste products, like urine and poop. People who spend time in space ships and submarines are just as worried about preventing toxic levels of CO2 as they are of insufficient O2.

          Plants have more than enough CO2 to thrive at 350ppm in the atmosphere.

          You’re just pulling these assertions out of your ass. You’re saying you know better than
          – biologists
          – agronomists
          – lung surgeons and oncologists
          – ocean chemistry experts
          – people who measure and track atmospheric chemistry and aerosols
          – glaciologists
          – coral reef experts
          – solar scientists
          – paleontologists

          or anybody else who mentions some way that global warming is happening, that it is bad for our civilization, that it is caused by human-emitted greenhouse gases, that ocean warming is killing food stocks, and that ocean acidification is bad for many marine species in the food chain.

          Your “evidence” consists of irrelevant factoids (last record high in Moosebutt, Maine was set in 1923!) or contrarian cranks or pieces written by people who lobby for oil/gas/coal.

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          “The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement” Karl Popper

          Disagreement doesn’t teach you anything if you don’t test statements against measurable facts. I doubt that people come back as geniuses after having arguments at sports bars.

          “Skepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the unpardonable sin.” Huxley

          Yet you cited Roy Spencer, a man who puts his religious beliefs (that global warming isn’t happening because his god wouldn’t let that happen) above scientific evidence. The most brutal challenges to scientific hypotheses are from other scientists. The minute anybody publishes a climate change (or anthropology or genetics) paper, all the interested scientists start crawling all over it and checking the data, statistical analysis, the citations and the conclusions. That’s how the repeated errors in Spencer&Christie’s “the earth is cooling” paper were discovered.

          I’ve attended local skeptic talk and skeptic conventions. We learn about self-delusion, biased refusal to accept unwanted facts, logical fallacies, how it’s easy to fool yourself if something agrees with what you already believe, the importance of verifying sources, how “common sense” is often wrong, and that if you don’t check your math you deserve to be embarassed about it. We know why people are fooled by psychics and optical illusions and magicians.

          Do you know that many of your sources are from people who profit from the oil/gas/coal industries? Were you not skeptical enough to check their “facts”?

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          I do wish that rhymeswithgoalie could answer my request for the empirical experiment, that is repeatable, that demonstrates that the essential for all terrestrial life on Earth trace gas, that makes up only between .03-.04% of the Earth’s atmosphere and is 1.6 times more dense than that rest of the atmosphere, CO₂, has the ability to change the Earth’s climate.

          First you have to come up with an empirical experiment, that is repeatable, that demonstrates your statement that CO2, a trace gas, is essential for all terrestrial life on Earth.

          That sounds reasonable, right? Right?

          Personally, based on the profoundly ignorant statements you’ve made, that you don’t have the capacity to understand even the most basic aspects of the Greenhouse Effect.

          • John Swallow Says:

            rhymeswithgoalie Says: “Personally, based on the profoundly ignorant statements you’ve made, that you don’t have the capacity to understand even the most basic aspects of the Greenhouse Effect.” & then rhymeswithgoalie supplies two irrelevant You Tubes that make no mention as to how much CO₂ was introduced to absorb the heat of the candle. It appear that rhymeswithgoalie is so ignorant of history that he doesn’t know that John Tyndall did this experiment 162 years ago.

            “In 1859 Tyndall began to study the capacities of various gases to absorb or transmit radiant heat. He showed that the main atmospheric gases, nitrogen and oxygen, are almost transparent to radiant heat, whereas water vapour, carbon dioxide and ozone are such good absorbers that, even in small quantities, these gases absorb heat radiation much more strongly than the rest of the atmosphere.
            Tyndall concluded that water vapour is the strongest absorber of heat in the atmosphere and is the principal gas controlling surface air temperature by inhibiting leakage of the Earth’s heat back into outer space. He declared that, without water vapour, the Earth’s surface would be ‘held fast in the iron grip of frost’ – the greenhouse effect.
            The greenhouse effect works as follows. Most of the Sun’s energy is radiated as visible light. This is not absorbed by the atmosphere and passes through to warm the Earth. The warm Earth radiates heat back into the atmosphere as infrared radiation. This is avidly absorbed by atmospheric water vapour and carbon dioxide, trapping the heat and preventing the Earth from freezing”.
            https://archive.is/EC8Ig#selection-901.0-913.378

    • redskylite Says:

      Really? – “It is a fact that Pumped storage is the only proven way to store electrical energy that would be sufficient to power the grid”

      “There has to be a real attraction for these companies to be taking in huge sums of money to try to reinvent the wheel as far as storing electrical AC current energy.”
      ==================================================

      “Big $300m battery to be built without government aid in market first”

      Victoria will get Australia’s first grid-scale battery built without government support by the end of 2022, marking what its proponent says is a tipping point in the electricity sector as storage prices tumble.

      https://www.smh.com.au/business/markets/big-300m-battery-to-be-built-without-government-aid-in-market-first-20210705-p586z6.html

      • John Swallow Says:

        It is a fact that Pumped storage is the only proven way to store electrical energy but as this states below, it uses more power than it generates.
        “Pumped storage hydroelectricity generation is negative because most pumped storage electricity generation facilities use more electricity than they produce on an annual basis. Most pumped storage systems use fossil fuels or nuclear energy for pumping water to the storage component of the system.”
        https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3

        If wind and solar are so great, why after the billions of tax dollars spent on them, do they only supply 6.5% of the US’s electrical energy. I’ll await your answer.

        • J4Zonian Says:

          More ridiculous lies from Swallows about renewable energy. S/he’ll say anything to stop the deployment of the necessary solutions to climate catastrophe. Swallows lies to serve right wing lunatic psychopaths in charge of fossil fuels and the right wing in the US, Australia and other places.

          In fact, pumped hydro storage is a remarkable 70-80% efficient; possibly as high as 87% in some cases. That’s as good as batteries, and it’s a viable, valuable method of time shifting energy that already provides the vast majority of energy storage in the world and has potential for far more than humanity could ever need.

          https://www.eesi.org/papers/view/energy-storage-2019

          Earth holds 530,000 potential sites for pumped hydro energy storage
          https://cleantechnica.com/2019/04/01/pumped-hydro-energy-storage-poised-for-global-domination/

          Why is Swallows lying in service of psychopaths trying to destroy civilization? What exactly is his or her motivation for the deception and manipulation s/he engages in here? S/he’s said it’s not for money, but then, s/he told lies about pumped storage…and everything else, so the money claim means nothing.

          Until Swallows confesses to lying, retracts all the lies, apologizes, gets into psychotherapy, and explains everything, there can be no relenting in debunking the nonsense s/he spews, and no chance of forgiveness.

          • John Swallow Says:

            J4Zonian Says: “S/he’s said it’s not for money, but then, s/he told lies about pumped storage…and everything else, so the money claim means nothing.” It is no wonder that these poor illiterate fools that have allowed themselves to be so brainwashed by this anthropogenic climate change hoax cannot read and understand what they have read. What J4Zonian seems to be basing its ad hominem attack on me is this post that I offered up;
            “Pumped storage hydroelectricity generation is negative because most pumped storage electricity generation facilities use more electricity than they produce on an annual basis. Most pumped storage systems use fossil fuels or nuclear energy for pumping water to the storage component of the system.”
            https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3

            It is very telling that this poor fool is not intelligent enough to take ‘its’ concerns about what I posted to the source with ‘its’ complaints; but, that would take a certain degree of reasoning that most climate alarmist do not possess. I would hope that the source of my contentions regarding pumped storage, U.S. Energy Information Administration, would answer some of ‘its’ inane questions.

        • J4Zonian Says:

          Well, let’s see. Fossil and fissile fuels are well-established industries that get massive subsidies and externalities in the US and worldwide—many times more than renewables’. Even so, clean safe renewable energy is taking over quickly because they’re so much healthier, cleaner, more ecological, more democratic, more egalitarian…And cheaper. Better in every way. And taking over. More than 94% of all new US energy the first 5 months of 2021 was wind and solar, and that’s not even counting rooftop solar. It’s been going up steadily for years and that’s unlikely to change, since wind and solar continue to drop rapidly in price.

          https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/19/solar-wind-99-9-of-new-us-power-capacity-in-april-93-9-in-may/

          Again, Swallows is lying:

          Outright lies. Obviously, batteries store energy, too. They’re dropping incredibly fast in price as they expand incredibly fast in capacity.

          Cherry picking, misrepresentation. (How much was spent to build the fossil fuel infrastructure? Oops, Swallows doesn’t say. It was a lot. So it’s not surprising that it’s costing a lot to build massive amounts of solar and wind (and geothermal, and hydro, and other clean safe renewable energies.) But it will cost less to transition the entire US energy system to clean safe renewable energy than the oil wars the US has fought since 2000. They’ve cost more than $7 trillion so far, and that’s just limited costs, official numbers, and what we know about.

          The energy in the system we end up with will cost less than what we pay now, according to a number of studies, and common sense.

          Obviously, most energy stored by pumped hydro systems is fossil fuel energy because that’s most of the energy the world and US use now. That has to change for civilization to survive. Clean safe renewable energy will continue to expand, and will take over in the next 9 years, and then all the energy stored by everything will be clean safe renewable energy. This is obvious and Swallows is either trolling by pretending not to know it, is remarkably stupid, or is insane. Most likely all 3. S/he should get into psychotherapy to explore the reasons s/he’s vulnerable to the lies of psychopaths and is doing this inexcusable thing.

          • John Swallow Says:

            J4Zonian Says: “(How much was spent to build the fossil fuel infrastructure? Oops, Swallows doesn’t say. It was a lot. So it’s not surprising that it’s costing a lot to build massive amounts of solar and wind (and geothermal, and hydro, and other clean safe renewable energies.)” J4Zonian, does not say, How much was spent to build the fossil fuel infrastructure because, other than spread hate and trying to attack anyone that does not agree with ‘its’ renditions of what are the facts, J4Zonian is capable of only putting forth unsubstantiated assertions? Instead of wind and solar, why isn’t geothermal, such as what I have seen on each of my three trips to New Zealand and to the Wairakei, New Zealand’s first geothermal plant, that was opened in 1958, not being built in the US where there are many geothermal sites available. Instead of going with what works in the US the idiots squander $billions on such pieces of crap as this site.

            Lights Go Out at Massively Taxpayer-Subsidized Solar Power Tower
            Monday February 24, 2020
            https://blog.independent.org/2020/02/24/lights-go-out-at-massively-taxpayer-subsidized-solar-power-tower/?fbclid=IwAR0xIpcVDktHdSu-it04wSI8kYrttAs22ZIFzL5eEAI7mfjFQPHP3qZ0RHU

  5. J4Zonian Says:

    Of course the trolls are lying again, just making things up to keep pushing fossil fuels, which are destroying civilization and most life on Earth.
    Are we sure this isn’t Donald Trump? I mean, he lies as much, as ridiculously, as blatantly, and as stupidly, so…?
    The unsubstantiated assertions are all coming from the right, too, including ARFTrump.

    I’ve already pointed out that many right wingers seem to be unable to tell the difference between anger and hatred, and the insane hatred is all coming from them. The trolls show their contempt for humanity and every living being with each lie they tell.

    They do everything they can to keep us from replacing fossil fuels with clean safe renewable energy, then say the US doesn’t have enough geothermal. It’s a common troll tactic—disparage whatever you don’t like that’s in front and boost things in the back; once the front runner is disabled by lies, abandon what you were pushing and start dissing that. It’s one thing that was used by Republicans against the 2009 Waxman-Market climate bill.

    The US is first in the world in geothermal energy capacity, and it’s increasing as it also comes down in price. It’s valuable because it’s dispatchable, but it’s still not as cheap as wind and solar, including Concentrated Solar Power, (CSP) so in our pathological warlord capitalist system it hasn’t been used to its full potential and is only a small part of US energy. Its main value, as with hydro, is to increase the amount of wind and solar that can be integrated into the grid, including solar-geothermal hybrid systems. But it’s not increasing nearly as fast as we need it to because of right wing fossil-fueled lying psychopathic trolls. They continue to deny climate catastrophe, trying to stop clean safe renewable energy like wind, solar, and geothermal.

    http://www.thinkgeoenergy.com/newest-list-of-the-top-10-countries-in-geothermal-power/
    Geothermal could supply somewhere from half the energy the US uses, on up to astronomical amounts. The technology required to reach higher levels is more ecologically damaging, however.

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24032000-300-supercharged-geothermal-energy-could-power-the-planet/

    The US has increased its geothermal capacity since that 2015 graph, despite rabid opposition of right wing fossil fuel dupes and shills, telling hundreds of thousands of lies trying to prevent ditching fossil fuels for clean safe renewable energy. That right wing trolls are now suggesting there’s not enough geothermal is inexcusably hypocritical, absolutely disgusting, and exactly what we’ve come to expect.

    • John Swallow Says:

      J4Zonian Says: “They do everything they can to keep us from replacing fossil fuels with clean safe renewable energy, then say the US doesn’t have enough geothermal.” That is what I had mentioned and if you had the ability to read and to understand what you had read, you have noticed this in my comment that you are babbling on about.
      “Instead of wind and solar, why isn’t geothermal, such as what I have seen on each of my three trips to New Zealand and to the Wairakei, New Zealand’s first geothermal plant, that was opened in 1958, not being built in the US where there are many geothermal sites available”?
      In case you have any interest in what may someday make for the intermittent wind and solar power to ever be able to work, you can look at this site. I for one think that money is being squandered on both “ugly wind generators or ugly solar panels” Meanwhile geothermal is totally ignored in spite of it working well at the Navy’s China Lake facility in CA.
      “Currently, two geothermal power plants at China Lake are the only ones on military lands. A private company, which built, owns, and operates the power plants at China Lake, sells the electricity to a utility company and pays the Navy royalties on these sales as well as other types of compensation.”
      http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-04-513

      • J4Zonian Says:

        Somebody said this once, I guess Swallows hasn’t seen it:

        “They do everything they can to keep us from replacing fossil fuels with clean safe renewable energy, then say the US doesn’t have enough geothermal. It’s a common troll tactic—disparage whatever you don’t like that’s in front and boost things in the back; once the front runner is disabled by lies, abandon what you were pushing and start dissing that. It’s one thing that was used by Republicans against the 2009 Waxman-Market climate bill.”

        “They do everything they can to keep us from replacing fossil fuels with clean safe renewable energy, then say the US doesn’t have enough geothermal. It’s a common troll tactic—disparage whatever you don’t like that’s in front and boost things in the back; once the front runner is disabled by lies, abandon what you were pushing and start dissing that. It’s one thing that was used by Republicans against the 2009 Waxman-Market climate bill.” [sic]

        One of the lies Swallows tells in service of the psychopaths s/he serves is to deny climate catastrophe. That lie, spread by billions of dollars funneled through organizations like the ones Swallows wallows in, removes the pressure to build clean safe renewables, including geothermal, which Swallows falsely claims to support while minimizing the need for, and Concentrated Solar Thermal, which s/he disparages with yet more lies. Wind and solar are the energy sources of the foreseeable future, unless the lies prevent there from being one. Swallows should grow up, get over the 2 year old NO!s and get into psychotherapy to figure out why s/he’s compelled to lie to help malignant narcissists destroy civilization and most life on Earth.

        has caused doubt and confusion and given cover to the fossil-fueled right wing

  6. J4Zonian Says:

    So let’s talk about costs.

    A more accurate estimate of the costs of the US Middle East oil wars just since 2000, including future costs we’re committed to, is $13.5 trillion. The cost embedded in the global fossil fuel infrastructure is about $20 trillion. Global air pollution, mostly fossil-related, costs $250 billion and kills 9 million people a year.
    healthdata[DOT]org/news-release/over-7-billion-people-face-unsafe-air-state-global-air-2018

    The IMF has said that fossil fuel externalities globally are $5.3 trillion/yr. while in the US “direct and indirect subsidies for coal, oil and gas in the U.S. reached $649 billion in 2015. Pentagon spending that same year was $599 billion.”
    rollingstone[DOT]com/politics/politics-news/fossil-fuel-subsidies-pentagon-spending-imf-report-833035/
    Study: imf[DOT]org/~/media/Files/Publications/WP/2019/WPIEA2019089.ashx

    Despite repeated pledges by the US and other G20 countries to end FF subsidies, “The U.S. is set apart from other G20 countries by the sheer variety of tax exemptions for fossil fuel producers,”
    ibtimes[DOT]com/us-fossil-fuel-subsidies-increase-dramatically-despite-climate-change-pledge-2180918

    That includes $15 billion in Covid relief.
    commondreams[DOT]org/news/2020/11/23/time-cut-dirty-energys-lifeline-report-details-how-fossil-fuel-industry-feasted?cd-origin=rss&utm_term=AO&utm_campaign=Daily%20Newsletter&utm_content=email&utm_source=Daily%20Newsletter&utm_medium=Email

    The cost of completely powering the US with clean safe renewable energy, will likely be $4.5 trillion.
    Inst. for Policy Studies
    https://www.businessinsider.com/the-true-cost-of-a-high-speed-rail-for-the-us-is-more-than-500-billion-2009-5

    Including grid upgrades and a national high speed rail network hooked into public mass transit systems in every city, retraining every fossil fuel worker, and many other aspects of the transition might make it $8 trillion. Because the lunatic climate denying delayalist right wing has delayed the implementation of solutions the situation is now so dire we only have 9 years left to stop all emissions and try to avoid global catastrophe. So it will cost more than it would have if they had simply admitted reality and said yes to solutions. The amounts needed average out to $500 billion to $900 billion a year, although money spent on this in 2030 will be largely wasted, since we’ll already be in the middle of collapse by then if we don’t stop emitting carbon sooner.

    “if nations fail to rein in greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently, as agreed upon in the international Paris Agreement, the global economy stands to lose at least $150 trillion to as much as $792 trillion by the end of the century.”
    http://www.climatecrocks.com/2020/04/16/acting-on-climate-will-boost-economy/

    That means if we do meet the Paris goals (though they’re pathetically weak) that $150-$792 trillion will all be savings garnered by $20 trillion investment in the energy, agriculture, forestry, and industrial future of the world.

    Research has shown that the health benefits alone from getting off fossil fuels are massive and would more than pay for the transition toward clean energy.
    vox[DOT]com/energy-and-environment/2020/8/12/21361498/climate-change-air-pollution-us-india-china-deaths
    vox[DOT]com/22397364/earth-day-us-climate-change-summit-biden-john-kerry-commitment-2030-zero-emissions

    In the end it’s pointless to put a dollar amount on the collapse of civilization. The only rational response is to avoid it by ditching fossil fuels as fast as possible, taking whatever peaceful actions are necessary to remove the right wing from power.

    • John Swallow Says:

      At the request of Congress, the Energy Information Administration (EIA), an independent agency of the U.S. Department of Energy, evaluated the amount of subsidies that the federal government provides energy producers for fiscal year 2013, updating a study that it did for fiscal year 2010.[i] Over a 3-year period, from fiscal year 2010 through fiscal year 2013, total federal electricity-related subsidies increased from $11.7 billion to $16.1 billion, an increase of 38 percent over the 3-year period. The largest increases in federal energy subsidies were in electricity-related renewable energy, which increased 54 percent over the 3-year period, from $8.6 billion to $13.2 billion. Total fossil fuel subsidies declined by 15 percent, from $4.0 billion to $3.4 billion. Total federal energy subsidies declined 23 percent, from $38 billion to $29 billion due to the expiration of tax incentives for biofuels, the depletion of stimulus funds, and a decrease in energy assistance funds.
      http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/analysis/eia-subsidy-report-solar-subsidies-increase-389-percent/

      • J4Zonian Says:

        More of the usual irrelevant cherry picking nonsense from the fossil-fuel pushing troll.

        What is making Swallows do this?

        What kind of mental illness would compel someone to aid in the destruction of civilization and most life on Earth?

    • John Swallow Says:

      “Taxpayers Are Footing Bill for Solar Project That Doesn’t Work March 29, 2016
      The latest example is the $2.2 billion Ivanpah solar thermal plant in California. (Note: Solar thermal plants do not use solar panels to directly convert sunshine to electricity; they use sunshine to boil water that then drives conventional turbines. Here’s the story so far. Ivanpah…
      is owned by Google, NRG Energy, and Brightsource, who have a market cap in excess of $500 billion.
      received $1.6 billion in loan guarantees from the Department of Energy.
      is paid four to five times as much per megawatt-hour as natural gas-powered plants.
      is paid two to three times as much per megawatt-hour as other solar power producers.
      has burned thousands of birds to death.
      has delayed loan repayments.
      is seeking over $500 million in grants to help pay off the guaranteed loans.
      burns natural gas for 4.5 hours each morning to get its mojo going.
      Brightsource, which is privately held, is owned by a virtual who’s who of those who don’t need subsidies from taxpayers and ratepayers.”
      http://dailysignal.com/2016/03/29/taxpayers-are-footing-bill-for-solar-project-that-doesnt-work/

      • J4Zonian Says:

        All nonsense. All cherry picked deceptions. All spread by an anti-renewable troll as part of a meta-Gish gallop of cherry-picked deceptions.

        How can someone have a mental illness so serious it makes him or her not just want to destroy civilization and most life on Earth but actually help do it, apparently pretty much full time, and yet not do anything to have that illness healed? Why won’t Swallows see someone about this devastating illness?

        • J4Zonian Says:

          The Daily Signal is the mouthpiece of the Heritage Inst., one of the most ultra-conservative PR firms in the world, helping to form right wing policy and funnel billions of dollars from some of the most despicable right wing mbillionaires in the world (Kochs, Mercers, DeVos, Coors, Exxon, Scaife, Donors Capital, Rumsfeld, Cato, and many others to extremist causes including climate denying delayalism (including the Heartland Inst. one of the most despicably deceptive organizations in the US, at least.)

          It relies on disgraced scientists and non-scientist pretenders like Patrick Michaels, Sallie Baliunas*, Thomas Gale Moore, Robert Balling, Fred Singer, Steve Forbes.

          When Swallows started citing lunatic propagandists like Spencer and Tony/Steven Heller/Steven/Goddard/Heller/Tony I said to watch out for more of the people on this unwanted poster:

          Here they are.

          https://www.desmog.com/heritage-foundation/

          *With Wei Hock (Willie) Soon**, Baliunas wrote a paper blaming climate catastrophe on the sun. The paper was so bad, when it was accepted by an editor of a credible science journal, 6 other editors resigned. Soon has at last count (by me, anyway) had received more than a million dollars from Exxon Mobil. She’s associated with equally credible people as Craig Idso, Jo Nova, Ian Plimer, Tony Heller, Spencer, Anthony Watts, Bjorn Lomborg, and organizations like Competitive Enterprise Inst. George C. Marshall Inst. Heartland Inst. Hoover Inst. and CFACT, all part of the extreme right wing jackal pack of PR firms pretending to be think tanks. It’s a tangled web of crazy, a who’s who of climate denial and proto-fascist election stealing, voter-suppression, deceiving-the-public action.

          desmog[DOT]com/sallie-baliunas/

          ** According to Greenpeace, every grant Dr. Soon has received since 2002 has been from oil or coal interests.” desmog[DOT]com/willie-soon/

  7. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    But J4, I thought the US warships in the Strait of Hormuz were being buzzed by the Iranian Guard over the installation of solar farms in the region!


  8. From Mateo Jaramillo, Form CEO and co-founder:

    Jaramillo, who previously led Tesla’s energy storage arm, said he considers the Form Energy technology as “complementary, not in competition” with shorter-duration lithium-ion batteries. [emphasis mine]

    https://www.utilitydive.com/news/form-energys-20kwh-100-hour-iron-air-battery-could-be-a-substantial-br/603877/

    Complementary? Doesn’t that mean you have to buy both? These $20 per KW can’t replace $50-$80 per KW lithium ion? What aren’t they telling us. One thing they’re not telling us is the round trip efficiency. I did find a tweet with a claim of 60%:

    • J4Zonian Says:

      canman seems not to realize—well, anything—but at the moment s/he isn’t catching on that if you have 2 forms of batteries, one best for vehicles BECAUSE IT’S LIGHTWEIGHT* and one best for much larger, stationary grid applications BECAUSE IT’S HEAVIER, they are complementary. Can you say that? “com-pla-men-turry”. That means they work well together, even though they do different jobs and fill different niches. (Or because they do different jobs. Hmmm.)

      So yes, when you have 2 different but complementary forms of storage (actually 3, with pumped storage, which other trolls here seem to not be getting just as thoroughly as canman doesn’t get these 2… you use them together.

      Lithium batteries can turn on and off in milliseconds, making them extremely valuable in preventing outages (though not outrages like we see the trolls committing here). Pumped storage can then take over, allowing the batteries to be used only when needed, at least until there are enough stationary lithium, iron-air and other batteries on the grid, and vehicle batteries doing double duty to provide grid-wide, short and longer term power as needed. Iron-air and other batteries will fill in as they can; we don’t yet know how fast they can ramp up but it sounds like they’ll at least be able to help instant lithium batts the way pumped storage can, and with all 3 together, provide all the capacity the world needs to reach 100% clean safe renewable energy by 2030.

      Thralls
      Of course, if the people the trolls here are serving get their way, that won’t happen and civilization and nature will collapse. I often wonder how the trolls will feel and what they’ll think about that when they realize how destructive what they’re doing was.

      *like the trolls

      • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

        The best analogy I know of is to liken costs and trade-off of energy storage to data storage.

        RAM gives very quick access that can keep up with a processor, but is very expensive compared to a magnetic-surface spinning hard drive, which (by CPU perspective) is extremely slow. In large database systems most of the data was archived and almost never accessed, so it would be stored on racks of tape in a silo (think juke box) where the robotic arm loads the requested tape into one of its drives).

        Each of these is a tradeoff among cost, size and access time.

        A pre-tech analogy would be the shelves in the retail store, a room with some pallets in the back and distant warehouse storage with huge amounts of inventory. A couple of decades ago it was fashionable to cheap out on warehousing and have “just in time” deliveries of goods to the factory or store that ordered it. Inevitably supply chains got disrupted and stores and factories come to a standstill until production and transport resume. Right now I’d bet carmakers are re-thinking their approaches to ensure a multi-week/month supply of chips, because they’re definitely losing money from the stopped production lines.


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