In yesterday’s post I mentioned two Israeli companies that allegedly made big breakthroughs with solar power. Many of you noted that solar power is limited if you can’t store the energy in a cost-effective way for night use.
I did some Googling to see what’s new in battery storage, and this potential breakthrough popped up. Obviously it must be viewed skeptically until proven viable.
But I got to thinking that there must be a more natural way to store energy, using gravity. It might not surprise you to learn that I found exactly this sort of idea, appropriately, in the halfbakery.com web site:
I know, I know, you will point out that even if such systems of energy storage existed, they would be inefficient. It takes more energy to move a rock up a hill than you can capture from the return.
But how inefficient can your storage device be and still be viable? There is some theoretical amount of cheap energy production that compensates for almost any degree of inefficient storage. So if, for example, solar panels became 1,000 times more efficient and cost you next to nothing, it might not matter if your storage device could only capture half of what you generated. You’d still have plenty to get you through the night and charge your electric car too. I think it’s entirely plausible that we’ll have home battery systems, whether gravity based or not, that make oil obsolete except for specialty situations such as jets and maybe big trucks.
Some of you noted that oil has so much energy for its weight that solar power can never be expected to replace it for cars. But that too is more of a function of battery storage. Perhaps the nanowire battery or something like it will solve that. I think it will happen. And I think Israeli companies will be in the forefront, for national defense reasons, while the United States argues about flag lapel pins.