Our national electric grid has limited ability to store excess energy, so electricity must constantly be over-generated to assure reliable supply. Though wind and solar power are promising clean alternatives to fossil fuels, their natural unpredictability and intermittency present major challenges to delivery of the consistent power that is necessary to operate today's grid. The U.S. needs technologies that can store renewable energy for future grid use at any location. Flexible, large-scale storage would create a stronger and more robust electric grid by enabling renewables to contribute to reliable power generation.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
EaglePicher Technologies is developing a sodium-beta alumina (Na-Beta) battery for grid-scale energy storage. High-temperature Na-Beta batteries are a promising grid-scale energy storage technology, but existing approaches are expensive and unreliable. EaglePicher has modified the shape of the traditional, tubular-shaped Na-Beta battery. It is using an inexpensive stacked design to improve performance at lower temperatures, leading to a less expensive overall storage technology. The new design greatly simplifies the manufacturing process for beta alumina membranes (a key enabling technology), providing a subsequent pathway to the production of scalable, modular batteries at half the cost of the existing tubular designs.
If successful, EaglePicher would reduce the cost of grid-scale energy storage by as much as 50% and increase the grid's ability to store large quantities of renewable energy.
Grid-scale energy storage would provide a buffer against energy supply disruptions.
Electricity generation accounts for over 40% of U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Enabling large-scale contributions of wind and solar power for our electricity generation would result in a substantial decrease in CO2 emissions. This technology would also reduce CO2 by storing electricity that was generated above short-term demand.
This project could help establish a viable U.S. Na-Beta manufacturing industry. By 2013, the market for energy storage batteries is projected to exceed $1 billion, with the market for Na-Beta approaching $700 million.