As global output from wind and solar balloons, Recharge’s coverage again proved that the urgent race to develop storage technologies to firm-up renewable power supply won’t be a one-horse race for the ubiquitous lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery.
A novel zinc-based battery offering up to 10 hours of storage – and claiming significant cost and safety benefits over Li-ion systems – made a commercial breakthrough when it secured 1.5GWh of orders in the US.
Across the Atlantic in Scotland, meanwhile, a very different type of storage technology that uses giant weights dropped down decommissioned mine-shafts is preparing to head for trials with an ambition to operate at half the cost of Li-ion. Gravitricity’s system should start trials in the spring of next year, Recharge reported.
And to zinc and gravity you can add nuclear, in the form of small-scale reactor and molten salt technology under development by a start-up backed by Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates.
The success of all these innovations remains to be seen, but the size of the commercial prize on offer is already beyond doubt. Storage is booming, as proved by a record US deployment of systems in the second quarter of 2020 despite all the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Floating wind power hit another milestone with the unveiling of plans by oil giant Total and Macquarie for a 2GW-plus portfolio of projects off South Korea, the biggest single ambition announced in the fast-growing sector so far.
The allure of floating wind to the world’s fossil-focused players becomes more apparent by the week. Recharge reported how offshore oil driller Odfjell is investing in floating, while the CEO of newly-formed oil & gas sector spin-off Aker Offshore Wind reckons there is almost limitless potential for deep-water turbine deployment.
Technical innovation will be key to honing floating wind’s economics, and Recharge revealed the latest step forward in the sector with a deal to develop a novel synthetic mooring line between French floating pioneer Ideol and Scottish offshore oil contractor Bridon-Bekaert Ropes that would slash anchoring and operations costs.
“Quite staggering” – that was the verdict of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) as it put a $3.1 trillion figure on the subsidies enjoyed in one form or another by the fossil fuel industry in 2017, a cool twenty times the level governments offered renewables in the same year.
The result of 18-months of number-crunching by Irena was an attempt to put a definitive figure on a gap climate campaigners have long labelled a scandal.