I recently came across this site that talks about a group in the Netherlands who combined a Nickel-Iron battery with an alkali electrolyser. For the cost of a membrane and a couple of fittings, you get an electrolyser. I think this makes a lot of sense. Nickel-Iron batteries will last a long time before having to be refurbished, and the hydrogen can be used for seasonal energy storage (my preference is methane, others want straight hydrogen or ammonia).
Continuing on the theme I started in my curtailment post, this is a detailed look at a renewable chemical plant centered around a Sabatier reactor, which converts CO2 and hydrogen into methane. The idea here is a floating plant fed with power from wind turbines and solar panels that produce methane that can be used to displace fossil methane from natural gas. Plant Overview The plant consists of four main units, the electrolysis unit that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, a distillation unit that extracts pure water from seawater to feed to the electrolysis unit, an liquid amine-based direct air capture unit to extract CO2 from the air, and a Sabatier reactor that turns hydrogen and carbon dioxide into methane.
That power outage that looked likely did occur. No grid power for about six days. The Good The pile of candles, the boxes of matches, the oil lamp, the propane camp stove, flashlights, piles of blankets, refilled water bottles, rain barrels all worked as they needed to. The Bad As soon as the power when out, I ran to the local Big Box Store™ for an inverter. I had previously heard about the inverter on car battery trick from The Survival Podcast, but never got around to picking one up.
As happens from time-to-time, my mind drifts to designing a solar-battery-inverter system in my head. This usually happens when it looks likely there will be power outages. With the power flickering periodically throughout the day, it was easy to get my mind to focus on the problem. There are several main rechargeable battery types used to build stationary battery systems: the lead-acid types (open/closed/agm), lithium ion, and the one that I’m fascinated by: Nickel-Iron batteries.
Since I’ve had the issues with renewable energy on my mind recently, I’m going to fill some of this space with some of my thoughts on the matter. tl;dr I think that storing excess electricity as hydrocarbons and using existing storage and infrastructure is the best way to deal with large amounts of intermittent generation. Intermittent Renewable Energy There are some well-known issues with renewable energy. If you read the comments section of just about any article covering renewable energy on a right-leaning site, you’ve seen the phrase “The sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow”, referring to the intermittency of the solar and wind power generation.