Today’s Solutions: May 27, 2022

The generation of renewable energy from sources like wind and solar is one thing, but there are many other factors to consider when delivering renewable energy to consumers. A big one is the issue of storage. 

One Oregon startup, ESS Tech Inc. is fixing this problem with its flow batteries. 

Making storage more fluid

A flow battery is distinct because of the two external tanks full of electrolytic solution that gets pumped through the battery as it charges and discharges. These tanks are the defining principle behind this device’s lengthening of battery life, as the size of the tanks determines how long they can hold a charge. 

“For the whole machine, what you need to do is add more liquid rather than adding many, many more batteries,” said Jun Liu, a University of Washington professor and a fellow at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

A flow battery can be as small as a minifridge or as large as a shipping container that houses many tanks, like the ones being installed at a clean energy development area in San Diego. These could last as long as 12 hours compared to the typical four hours of their lithium-ion counterparts. What’s more, the ESS flow battery doesn’t require rare metals like lithium or vanadium since its main ingredients are iron, salt, and water. 

Flow batteries, however, are not yet thought of as a replacement for lithium-ion batteries. Developers and installers think of them as meeting the part of the market that is looking for longer-lasting energy storage, eight hours or more. Lithium-ion batteries are here for the foreseeable future for shorter-term energy storage. 

Flow batteries are also finding their place in terms of cost as a new technology in new markets. A 2020 report estimated an installed cost of $551 per kilowatt-hour for a 4 megawatt-hour system. Developers can still install lithium-ion batteries at a much lower cost. 

The continued interest in and installation of flow batteries like the ESS system in San Diego continues to grow and optimize the technology and the market, and flow batteries could grow to become a vital part of our renewable energy storage needs.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

US injects $3.5 billion into carbon removal technologies

The US has ambitious goals to reach and maintain a net-zero economy by 2050. To get the nation closer to this objective, the US Department of Energy (DOE) is accelerating its Carbon Negative Shot initiative ... Read More

Pennsylvania schools doubled their solar power in the last two years

Renewable energy production is taking off in the Keystone State. A new report from the nonprofit Generation180 reveals that Pennsylvania schools doubled their solar power capacity over the last two years of the Pandemic. This ... Read More

Recycled old tires could make roads last twice as long

Prolonged sun exposure is one of the main contributors to asphalt cracking. That’s because the heat from the sun dries up the road’s moisture content, making it brittle and prone to wear. A team of ... Read More

Germany slashes public transportation costs to reduce fossil fuel dependence

In the energy standoff between Europe and Russia, Germany has taken many measures to accelerate the phasing out of oil and gas. It has resolved to make energy cheaper for homes and businesses. It has ... Read More

Want to keep sharks and beachgoers safe? There’s an app for that

Sharks, as top predators, are a keystone species. This means the balance of whole marine ecosystems relies heavily on sharks' well-being. Protecting and conserving sharks is of the utmost importance, especially since they already face ... Read More

New gel film pulls drinking water from the air in even the driest places

Getting water to drought-stricken areas is an increasing concern for scientists. In the future, desalination systems will become simpler and more accessible to get water to those who need it, but another solution could be ... Read More


Emissaries, Log in to hide this reminder

You have read 23 aricles on The Optimist Daily. Support reader-funded independent journalism. Help us make a difference in the world, shifting consciousness towards a solution focused mindset.

For just $5 per month Emissaries have access to unlimited solutions and a community of like minded positive thinkers.