Wind and solar powered generation is expanding, but one challenge we face is how to store that energy when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. Here are three innovative companies searching for breakthroughs to solve this
challenge. For the first time ever, renewable power is cheaper than fossil intensive fuel sources. I mean that’s a remarkable statement. Malta’s mission is to enable the supply of reliable, resilient, and affordable electricity anywhere in the world. And we’re doing that by developing an energy storage technology that is long duration and cost competitive. The Malta system is very simple. On the front end as the electricity comes
in it basically operates a heat pump. What you’re doing is taking the hot side and storing that in molten salt and salt stores heat very well. And you’re taking the cold side and storing that in an antifreeze solution. And then when the electricity is needed to go back out to the grid, what you’re doing is basically reversing that
process. Quidnet is taking the largest form of energy
storage today, which is called pumped hydro storage. Effectively running water up and down a hill. And we’re just bringing that to regions where there are no hills and it’s all flat
terrain. For pumped hydro storage the majority of the cost is building the dam and constructing on the
side, and on the top of the mountain. With Quidnet’s subsurface, geo-mechanical
pump storage we take that cost and bring it down about
an order of magnitude. A Quidnet facility essentially involves a
surface pond, a mechanical room, and a well. When the system is charging water is pulled from the pond and pumped down into the well and kept at high pressure. When we’re discharging, the high-pressure water is allowed to come
back up through the well, flowing through the turbine, and back into
the pond. Form Energy’s bidirectional power plants are quite different from other kinds of energy
storage. Lithium ion is one that most people know. Whereas lithium ion batteries are fantastic
sprinters you would never take a sprinter and ask that sprinter to run a marathon. In our case what we are going after is a very different kind of race. In that marathon racer is a different electrochemical
challenge. To smooth out those intermittencies over long
periods of time. Days, weeks, or potentially even months. The bidirectional power plant operates under the same principles that any energy storage device does. You have a source of charging and then it’s discharged according to the value maximizing algorithm
that we have developed. We use earth abundant elements and we use elements which are non-toxic and
very benign. Every day I can wake up and tell myself that I’m doing something about climate change. That I’m doing something that matters, that will matter to my children’s generation. The window for solving these problems isn’t
that long. Being able to dedicate our capabilities by
doing something about that is what finally keeps us going and excited. Humans are incredibly and endlessly inventive. I do like the idea that we’re just going to
go do it.