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ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

Beyond batteries – new energy storage options

30/3/2022

6 min read

Large warehouse storage with stacked shelves and forklift truck Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Energy storage is key to the transition to greener systems. Among new technologies being explored is a set of thermo-mechanical technologies that often involve heat as well as electricity. Andrew Mourant reports.

Never has improving energy storage capacity had a greater economic and political importance than now. Any transformation will depend not only on meaningful backing through government policy but looking beyond existing battery and pumped hydro storage systems. No one denies the value of these, but they have drawbacks – a short lifespan and reliance on minerals such as lithium in the case of some battery set-ups; and, with hydro, a drastic impact on the environment.

 

In 2021 the share of global electricity produced by intermittent renewable energy sources was estimated at 26%. The International Energy Agency and World Energy Council say a storage capacity in excess of 250 GW will be needed by 2030. The race is on to find alternatives; and progress is being made on refining new technologies.

 

The main focus is on thermo-mechanical energy storage (TMES) systems. These are considered the way forward for longer-duration storage, offering high reliability, durability and long lifetimes. They can also deliver useful vectors beyond electricity – heat and cold, for example – to end users.

 

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