Of these technologies, the one with the most significant near-term impact is multi-junction solar cells.
Even so, solar will not deliver all the answers on its own. After all, the sun only shines for part of the day in many parts of the world and cloud cover can reduce energy capture levels for weeks.
Solar’s silver bullet? Advanced energy storage technology has the potential to transform not just solar, but all intermittent renewable power sources. It will enable integration with the modern grid, support greater use in remote
“Solar power will not be able to deliver all of the answers on its own”
and off-grid areas and balance short-term fluctuations in voltage. Innovation across the energy storage sector is gaining momentum.
Compressed air energy storage, for instance, has the potential to be the lowest-cost mass energy store available. Hydrogen storage, which involves compressed hydrogen gas in high-pressure tanks, is emerging as a central technology in a number of national energy strategies, while potentially revolutionary new types of batteries, some using graphene convert thermal energy of ions into electricity.
Advances in energy storage not only promise to support the wider use of renewable energy sources, but also create new business models – allowing renewables to be ‘banked’ and delivered when demand, along with the price, rises.
The widespread application of some of these technologies is still a long-term proposition. Yet molten salt, for instance, is already enabling utility level deployment of concentrated >