Nano-technology improves energy storage

  • The nanocable, produced with techniques pioneered in the nascent graphene research  field, could be used to build next-generation energy-storage systems.
  • A recent study reports that the capacity of the nanocable is at least 10 times greater than what would be predicted with classical electrostatics and improves on previous results from micro-capacitors.
  • It may be possible to build a large-scale energy-storage device by arranging millions of the tiny nanocables side by side in large arrays.
  • Energy systems are more efficient when coupled with effective operating reserves, providing the link between production and demand peaks whenever these are not in sync. This discovery may provide the basis for developing effective energy storage systems which can improve the UK’s capacity to deliver energy more efficiently, reducing costs and energy loses.
  • Improving the capacity to store and deliver energy may impact the current energy framework in two particular areas: 1) The baseload plants (coal and nuclear plants) produce the bulk of energy to meet demand. However, these are limited in their capacity to increase or decrease output in response to daily variation in demand. Currently, to meet demand variability relies on smaller, more responsive but less efficient, units. The use of efficient storage devises allows for smoothing out energy production spikes, allowing for a more efficient use of resource and reducing energy costs. 2) In renewable energy the maximum penetration of power is limited by the intermittent nature of the energy input. Fluctuations in power production also make it difficult for renewable energy plants to compete in electricity markets. Energy storage devices with the ability to store large amounts of energy could provide the necessary flexibility for smoothing power spikes.

Improvement of mass storage capacity may ease the management of energy sources in the UK, creating an opportunity to improve integration of renewable energy into the grid system.

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About Joao Delgado

Joao is a Research Fellow in Futures Research and leads on medium-large scale futures projects at CERF. Amongst other projects, he has led the development of scenarios for the future of river basin management for the Environment Agency. His professional interests include veterinary science, epidemiology, risk and systems thinking.
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