Researchers to reduce renewable energy waste

Researchers are attempting to overcome electricity sourcing issues related to renewable energy storage.

Research from Stanford University added up the costs of manufacturing storage devices for renewable energy in an effort to find the most efficient way to improve performance, according to Laboratory Equipment.

"Our primary goal was to calculate their overall energetic cost – that is, the total amount of fuel and electricity required to build and operate these storage technologies," said Charles Barnhart, researcher at Stanford's Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP). "We found that when you factor in the energetic costs, grid-scale batteries make sense for storing surplus solar energy, but not for wind."

As lead author of the study, Barnhart helped measure the energy consumed over the lifecycle of a battery, starting from sourcing the raw materials and setting up the finished product. While batteries could help contain energy that would be otherwise lost, the process of storing energy in turn consumes more fossil fuel over their lifetimes.

This process not only wastes energy but would also cancel out the benefits of using renewable energy. Researchers said the best course of action would be to increase the lifecycle of batteries. This solution allows them to enhance the performance of these devices as well as improve the energy return on investment.

German facility converts water into gas using wind power

While Stanford researchers are attempting to break through obstacles related to storing green energy, new technology is helping to use surplus wind energy without having to contain it, Greentech Media reported.

Installed by energy company E.ON, the wind power to gas (P2G) unit in Falkenhagen, Germany, is able to produce hydrogen with wind energy that is in turn used for a natural gas grid. The Falkenhagen facility is able to generate 2 megawatts of electricity and 360 cubic meters of hydrogen per hour.

"To ensure that Germany's power system remains stable and that our economy continues to have the energy it needs, we not only have to rapidly expand energy networks," said Philipp Rösler, economics minister of Germany. "We also need innovative solutions like the P2G unit here in Falkenhagen."

Rather than attempt to use a battery to store surplus energy, which is what some researchers are studying, the P2G unit in Falkenhagen employs wind power to convert water into hydrogen through electrolysis. With the success of E.ON's P2G facility, this could be a promising start to generating more wind powered energy in the future.

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