Beyond (way beyond) lithium ion

Eric and I were discussing renewable energy at Christmas dinner, and how the challenge isn’t generation, it’s storage. I described hearing about pumped hydro storage, which was a new idea to the table (I’ve only run across it once myself, in, I think, a comment thread at Matt Yglesias‘ blog). So I googled it up, and found the above link, via this article about a proposed artificial island used for that purpose. So there you go.

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9 thoughts on “Beyond (way beyond) lithium ion

  1. Ananth

    Uhm, I think you are a bit off about the idea of generation vs storage. I don’t think renewable energy sources as it currently exists can generate nearly enough power to match the consumption needs as a whole. The storage vs generation has to do more with individual sources (IE if I put solar panels on my house, I can store enough power to run during the night). It also doesn’t really address cost per megawatt generated, which is the other problem….

    It you want good green house fighting energy, lowering our dependence on oil, and not retard progress, the only viable option is nuclear….

  2. Eric

    Rivers run, winds blow, the tides go in and out, deep ocean’s cold, deep earth’s warm, and the sun shines down a hell of a lot of photons and heat every day. Capturing and more specifically storing it is in fact the issue, especially as it relates to cost. You can easily double the price of a solar panel system for your home if you want to store enough energy for 3-4 days vs. one evening.

    Also, I read this months ago, so I could be off by a factor of 10, but I believe 1/10th of 1% of the earth’s surface covered in PV panels for one day would generate enough electricity for the world (at current consumption) for one year. Now that’s still a lot of land area, but I just read about some dudes at UC-Boulder that reportedly doubled the efficiency of current market solar panels.

    Truth be told I don’t know much about nuclear or its pros/cons, but I think it’s kind of far-reaching to say it’s the only viable option when so little brainpower or money has gone in to this area of study as of yet.

  3. Steve

    It’s only far-reaching if the goal is factual accuracy. If the goal is Trolling the Liberals, on the other hand, “nuclear power is the only way” is pretty low-hanging fruit.

  4. Ananth

    Yea, I get a response….

    Secondly, there is a difference between what is viable today and what may be viable tomorrow. I am not discounting that someday down the road, solar panels will be more effiecient, cold fusion will exist or whatever. But you have look at where we are now, what are needs and problems are, and address them the best way we know how to at the time. I mean the argument that so little brainpower has gone this area of study is like saying don’t waste time on repaving roads when so little research has gone into hover cars… but I digress.

    Capturing is very much the issue. Storage is the secondary issue. We don’t store energy in our current energy grid and we want things like brownouts so these kind of things have to be addressed before it can be considered a viable option. Perhaps it will be, but until it is, they aren’t truly viable alternatives for the kind of energy needs we have.

    But to say its trolling the liberals is wrong. The cofounder of
    green peace
    is for nuclear energy, as is many prominent global warming scientists. Somebody once said, if you want to know if someone is serious about Global Warming, ask them how the feel about nuclear power, and you’ll know how serious they really are.

    Interesting enough the article I linked to has a lot of the pros to it. Most people who are anti nuclear are living in the 60 and 70 where nuclear power=nuclear weapons. The two thing are unrelated.

    What are your options if not nuclear? And waiting for better technology to be developed, are investing in research doesn’t count, since it doesn’t deal the with the problem and may or may not result in a solution.

  5. Steve

    But you have look at where we are now, what are needs and problems are, and address them the best way we know how to at the time.

    No I don’t. Not when that wasn’t the subject in the first place. You can discuss whatever you want, and feel free to explore other threads of conversation, but give the other people in the discussion a heads-up first. I was discussing shit like windmills and solar power, where storage is indeed the issue, ’cause it ain’t always windy, and it ain’t always sunny. The reason we don’t have storage in our current energy system is that it’s unnecessary. You can always burn oil, or coal, or uranium (speaking now of day-to-day, rather than long-term, values of “always”).

    So if you want to tell me that we need to stop burning fossil fuels ASAP, and the best sort of emergency measure to cut down as drastically as we can for now, until more efficient versions of green power can be developed, is to build nuclear reactors, then I find that highly reasonable. But that ain’t what you said, and my telepathic helmet is broken.

  6. Ananth

    Sorry I left out the word quickly in my first post… did you wake up on the wrong side of bed? Where’s the love? Anyways, I would assume the reason you want to have renewable energy is for cost/ enviromental/ screw Opec reasons… Otherwise, you would just be doing it because you could, not because there was any benefit…

    Also Storage capacity in that mass amount would be a new technology, and rather expensive/ineffecient for a while thus further delaying viability in the near term.

  7. Eric

    “Also Storage capacity in that mass amount would be a new technology, and rather expensive/ineffecient for a while thus further delaying viability in the near term.”

    Isn’t that the point of this post?!?

    Also, I’d say our present course isn’t viable, so let’s sink some money in to making more efficient processes that we already know to be unlimited/renewable, safe, and possible on both small and large scales (assuming the previously discussed advances in efficiency).

    Note: I’m in the airport so I haven’t looked at your link yet. will do that soon…

  8. Ananth

    I am somewhat wary of funding a particular technology by the government. Then we get the unintended consequences of Corn subidized ethanol. It would better to simply have a fund for alternative energy that has certain guidelines ie)cost per megawatt

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