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Wizdom of crowds and tomorrow’s batteries

One book that fascinated me and changed my perspective about modern world is The Wisdom of Crowds, by James-Surowiecki

And today is the perfect moment to observe wisdom of crowds in action. As green energy usage has grown from an insignificant less than one percent amount, to a significant slice of the yearly average and more than 50% of power production for the peaks (very sunny summer days or extreamly windy days). But there is a but. The old power grid requires that the power usage equals power generation. This worked ok during the old days, when the power generation was constant, and has become a nightmare when power generation  massively fluctuates .

An extreme example: the solar eclipse at noon, on 20 March, if it will be a sunny day,  will make power management a nightmare for Germany, more  explanations here.

The problem is that we currently do not have a cheap battery technology to allow efficient and  with no significant environment damage to stock the peak green energy  output until the moment it is needed. And this problem is also a great business opportunity, someone could have huge gains from buying energy cheap and selling it at a high price when the demand is great. Not to mention that if the battery is highly reusable, the gain is multiplied by the number of reloads….

Of course we also need better battery technology for our mobile devices (smartphones and laptops), and mostly for electric cars. But this is a secondary issue, we have the current batteries, that do their job, and electric cars can wait, while we use electic common transport in the city, electric trains for efficient long distance travel and the extraordinary already available bicycle technology. The question is how to store for a few days the huge power output of a solar plant or wind farm. Until now the problem could be ignored, while these technologies were not significantly used, but this is not the case anymore, not in Germany, and not in the United States either.

So here it comes the wisdom of crowds. I did a quick search and found quite a few creative ideas for battery technology of tomorrow. Which technology(es) will win? Time will tell. The wisdom of inventors will team with the wisdom of users and the best will win.

Huge liquid metal batteries?

Compressed gas?

Hydraulic rock lifting?

Computer designed chemicals?

Molten salt?

Pumped water storage in dams?

 

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