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On the Catalyst with Shayle Kann podcast this week:
The good news: the U.S. has about 47 days’ worth of energy stored up for later use. The bad news? Virtually all of it is in the form of fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas. By comparison, if you add up all the energy stored in batteries, pumped hydropower and other zero-carbon storage, it adds up to just a few seconds’ worth.
This small scale of low-carbon energy storage is a big problem. We’re building out intermittent renewables fast, and we need enough energy storage to back up wind when turbines slow down and solar when the sun isn’t shining.
But there are technologies that could get us there. In this episode, Shayle talks to his colleague Andy Lubershane, who is a partner and head of research at Energy Impact Partners. Andy recently wrote a piece called Four ways to store sunlight, which compares lithium-ion batteries, heat storage, ion-air batteries, and hydrogen. Andy and Shayle cover topics like:
- The storage trifecta: short duration, diurnal, and multi-day seasonal
- Andy’s guess at how low the price of lithium-ion batteries could go
- Why we would use heat storage and hydrogen, despite their low round-trip efficiencies
- Why molten-salt heat storage didn’t take off
- High hopes for iron-air batteries’ low costs
- Blending hydrogen into gas turbines
- How all these technologies are competing against carbon capture and storage (CCS)
- Andy Lubershane: Four ways to store sunlight
- Form Energy: Enabling a True 24/7 Carbon-Free Resource Portfolio for Great River Energy with Multi-Day Storage
Support for Catalyst comes from Climate Positive, a podcast by HASI, that features candid conversations with the leaders, innovators, and changemakers who are at the forefront of the transition to a sustainable economy. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
Catalyst is supported by Scale Microgrids, the distributed energy company dedicated to transforming the way modern energy infrastructure is designed, constructed, and financed. Distributed generation can be complex. Scale makes it easy. Learn more: scalemicrogrids.com.