Renewable energy like solar and wind are becoming part of the power mix as nations look to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, but power generation depends on favorable weather.
Mass storage batteries such as the vanadium redox flow battery can help by capturing the energy as it is generated, storing it and releasing it as needed.
China is investing heavily in the technology. Prudent Energy recently raised $30 million to try to reduce the cost of its vanadium battery systems, while China Strategic Holding is spending nearly $300 million to build the world’s largest vanadium battery, according to industry reports.
“Once you get energy storage into the whole smart grid technology, it can largely reduce the cost and lead to the faster implementation,” said Liyu Li, a chemist with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
“With just a little more work, the battery could potentially increase the use of wind, solar and other renewable power sources,” said Li. “But we need to make sure the cost is acceptable compared with other technologies.”