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Energy storage

New technologies emerge for storing grid electrical power

Tuesday, December 08, 2009 by: Paul Louis, staff writer
Tags: energy storage, power grid, health news

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(Natural News) As you and your neighbors turn appliances and air conditioners on and off, you're probably unaware of the power generation shuffling that goes on. At the central power stations, having to start up different generators in different stations or pull power from different grids translates to more expensive fuel consumption for generators and more pollution to the environment.

In order to help smooth out these transitions and maintain even electrical power output, battery storage is kept at some power stations. Currently, these battery storage packages use archaic technologies similar to what your car battery uses. But more efficient storage systems are being developed to install "smart grids". These smart grids will maintain power demands evenly with less pollution by reducing the need for starting up gas powered turbines to even out the distribution of power.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has recently allocated $620 million to 32 smart grid programs across the USA. Another $1 billion is being added from private investment money. A large portion totaling $770 million will be going toward putting recently developed storage technologies into real life applications.

In addition to new storage technologies for standard fossil fuel generator plants, new electrical storage technologies are being developed for the increased use of renewable power sources. These storage systems will also allow energy to be conserved for more use when fields of wind turbines or solar panels cannot meet power demands.

With wind generated power, stored compressed air from the wind turbines can be used to run forced air driven turbine generators. There are variations on this theme. In California, Pacific Gas & Electric has plans to store wind generated air in caverns below the fields. That air is compressed and then used to run turbines when there is more demand. Other plans involve compressed air tanks on the surface.

With solar energy collectors, oil or mixtures of salt and water can be used to store the heat, which can be released later to run nearby steam turbine generators for more electrical power. Better battery systems (and now flywheels) have been developed for standard grid operations also. The flywheels can be used for instant short power surges without starting up other gas turbine generators.

All this could lead to a future of cheaper, cleaner power.

Sources for this article include



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