Google unit seeks salt-based renewables storage breakthrough

Google parent group Alphabet has unveiled plans for new thermodynamic technology that could store renewable energy for weeks at a time in molten salts or antifreeze-like liquids.

Alphabet’s X division – its so-called ‘moonshot’ research arm – said it is at an advanced design stage with the technology, which has been developed under a project called Malta.

Maiden voyage for giant X power kite

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The system would see renewably-produced energy stored at scale in tanks of high-temperature molten salts or liquid coolant, before being reconverted to electricity via heat-exchange technology.

According to the Malta researchers, the finished system could be inexpensive, flexible and scalable, offering significant advantages over existing alternatives.

X said it is looking for partners to build a “ megawatt-scale prototype plant which would be large enough to prove the technology at commercial scale” and be connected to the grid.

Google and Alphabet have emerged as regular backers of the global clean energy push, either as consumers of renewable power or investors in generation and research projects.

The X stable also includes Makani, the company behind a high-altitude wind power kite system currently at the prototype stage.