Interesting energy storage solutions?

Rechargeable batteries

Photo credit Tom Raftery

I published this post on the IBM Global Eco Jam last week and it generated some interesting feedback so I thought I’d re-publish it here too to solicit your thoughts –

I was at the NewNet CleanTech Investors Summit in London last November.

At this event a poll was taken asking which CleanTech issues were perceived as being most important/having the most potential by the investment community – the answers were Energy Efficiency and Energy Storage.

I have seen several posts here on efficiency but none on energy storage so I said I’d start one.

What are the most interesting energy storage solutions people are seeing emerging.

I’ll kick off –

The two most interesting I have seen are
1. Thermal storage using heavily insulated bricks (!) for domestic energy storage (resistive heating) and
2. Metal air batteries – zinc air batteries are scheduled to come to market later this year. Zinc is abundant, cheap, non-toxic, non-explosive and readily recyclable. Zinc air batteries have an energy density about two to three times that of lithium ion batteries.

With that energy density and price point, it should be possible to build utility scale storage (allowing renewables to store excess energy when the wind is blowing strongly, and sell it when the wind drops or demand increases, for example).

Are there any other options people are seeing (and let’s leave pumped hydro out of this discussion – it is old tech, expensive and has significant environmental impacts).

One of the respondents pointed me to news out of Stanford in December that Stanford scientists are harnessing nanotechnology to quickly produce ultra-lightweight, bendable batteries and supercapacitors in from everyday paper!

What other interesting forms of energy storage have you come across?


The network is the computer

RJ45 ethernet connector
Photo Credit Olivander

I see a news item on CNET this morning about IBM which says:

IBM is set to debut a technology at the VMWorld conference in Las Vegas that executives say reduces storage costs by up to 80 percent.

That’s a pretty big claim and if it were anyone else I’d have a hard time believing it but IBM bring a lot of credibility as well as resources to the table when making an announcement like this.

The CNET story goes on to quote the IBM release (which is, as yet, not available on the IBM News site):

Based on an algorithm developed by IBM Research, VSO [Virtual Storage Optimizer] dramatically reduces the large physical storage requirements associated with storing virtual images. The solution also allows organizations to streamline operations by creating new desktop images in mere seconds or minutes, a process which previously could take up to 30 minutes – a 75% reduction in the time required to create and deploy new virtual machines. This represents a tremendous operational savings for clients, and allows them to realize more immediate returns on their investments.

If this is the case then the main barriers to virtualization, cost and complexity, are no more and we may well see a move to massively more efficient computing which can only be a good thing!

John Gage, one of the founders of Sun, coined the phrase “The network is the computer” and it sure looks like that vision is now coming to pass.