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Photo by Steve Johnson / Unsplash

Hosts: Jeff Goldmeer & Brian Gutknect
Guest: Jason Burwen | CEO | Energy Storage Association
Category: ⚡ Renewable Energy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[1:24] “Energy storage refers to a diversity of technologies that all have a singular goal, which is to take an input of energy, usually, but not only in the form of electricity, store that energy, by some means, that can be electrochemical, mechanical, thermal, and then redelivery it on demand. That is something that most […] are familiar with, through batteries and battery technologies, also known as electro chemical technologies. But this is a technology class that has been around for a little bit, mostly in the form of pumped hydro power, where you pump water uphill with electricity, and then hold it up above a dam before running it back through that dam later on. […] And the reason why these are all called energy storage, is to differentiate them from fuels. In general, we think of energy storage as a way in which you mostly take electricity or thermal inputs, and are able to hold on to that energy for exactly when, and often where it's going to be most useful to have.”

[3:03] “[Traditionally] electricity has to be consumed, the moment it's produced. You can't hold on to it effectively. And traditionally, we haven't had a way that's widespread and available, and cost effective to do this. But when you have that capability, it opens up an enormous amount of new operational possibilities on an electric system that is otherwise designed for that physics constraint.”

[3:34] “When you can relax that constraint of matching supply and demand precisely at all moments that allows you to do things like […], use your existing power plants or wires infrastructure more efficiently. […] It allows you to be more resilient and reliable in your system. […] And you can adapt your supply mix more readily regardless of what supply mix that is. The energy storage is going to help make non dispatchable resources like wind and solar more dispatchable. It's going to help inflexible resources like nuclear and some coal be more flexible.”

[7:56] “The space where I think there's a lot of innovation is what's generally referred to as long duration storage, where you're getting beyond sort of this diurnal intra day storage, but going to inter day. So we're talking about 24 plus hours, and sometimes up to weeks or months. And that is a space where you have all sorts of different technologies, different kinds of battery chemistries, not lithium ion, but others that might be sulfur based, for example, different forms of mechanical energy storage. […] There are folks who are working [with] […] liquid air, […] you've got underground or geo mechanical pumped storage, which instead of an above ground reservoir, it's a below ground reservoir that could potentially be significantly larger. You've got thermal storage technologies, like using molten salts or molten metals in order to be able to run steam turbines for days.”

[14:11] “I think the key thing to understand is that you're gonna have different project economics based on different technologies. So some of these technologies are very sort of installation driven, pumped hydro is a perfect example. That's more of a civil works than it is a product. […] Versus what I think folks are used to with batteries, which is a highly commoditized unitized product, that you can't actually follow a cost trajectory precisely because it is a commodity. And so that's a way to […] differentiate how to think about how these evolve over time and why some of the plays look the way they do.”

[18:47] “A flow battery [has the] same principles as the current batteries. […] The difference is that the electrodes […] in conventional batteries […] are metals or solid materials. In a flow battery, those are liquids. […] And so the reason why folks are interested in flow batteries is because they solve a certain scalability issue with batteries, which is that if you want longer duration or more power, you just make your tanks bigger. How much liquid electrode you store really becomes the limit. Whereas for battery arrays, you have to array them into modules and racks and containers and then build more of those. And so it's a slightly different strategy for scaling and installation in the flow battery.”

[23:10] “We have an enormous industrial organization capability here in the United States focused on subterranean everything. The US has the most advanced oil and gas sector in the world. And we should be looking at that as an enormous benefit for these kinds of energy storage opportunities, such as in underground compressed storage, or underground hydrogen storage, or geo mechanical pump storage. These are opportunities to repurpose that expertise into an asset class that can also be very much a part of the solution for decarbonizing power systems.”

[26:59] “We at ESA see a vision of 100 gigawatts of new energy storage by the end of this decade. And I think that that's driven, of course, by two overarching challenges. The challenge to decarbonize and the challenge to be resilient. For both of those challenges, energy storage is extremely well suited as a core part of the solution set.”

Rating: 💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 30 min | 🗓️ 07/22/2021
✅ Time saved: 28 min