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Salt, air and bricks: could this be the future of energy storage?

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on The Guardian or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: Start-ups are exploring innovative energy storage solutions beyond conventional batteries, focusing on using common materials like salt, air, bricks, and hand-warmer gel to store energy in the form of heat
• This approach is particularly aimed at industries with significant heat demands and seeks to provide stability in energy supply during fluctuations in renewable energy generation

🔭 The context: Traditionally, energy storage has relied heavily on large-scale batteries, but these start-ups aim to utilize the inherent thermal storage capabilities of everyday materials
• This method aligns with a broader interest in diversifying energy storage techniques to include thermal batteries, addressing both the intermittency of renewable energy sources and the high heat demands of industrial processes

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: Thermal energy storage presents a low-carbon alternative to traditional energy storage methods, offering a potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a step towards decarbonizing industrial heat
• By enabling more efficient use of renewable energy and reducing reliance on fossil fuels, these technologies contribute to the global transition to clean energy

⏭️ What's next: The industry faces challenges in terms of policy recognition and commercial scalability
• However, recent investments and collaborations hint at growing confidence in thermal energy storage solutions as essential components of a flexible, resilient, and zero-carbon energy grid
• Success in this area could significantly impact energy storage technology, promoting wider adoption of renewable energy sources

💬 One quote: "With all the excitement about battery technology for electric vehicles, people have forgotten about the massive demand for heat for industries that can’t be produced from electrical batteries. Industrial heat is a big deal – we can’t afford to ignore it,” (Bjarke Buchbjerg, chief technology officer at Kyoto Group)

📈 One stat: A McKinsey report estimates the cost of producing steam heat from thermal storage at just $15-$25 per megawatt-hour, compared to $45-$55 for gas with carbon capture and storage, and $65-$100 for hydrogen

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