From the earliest days of personal computing, companies would announce, to much fanfare, a new piece of software that would do wonderful things, be user friendly, the next killer app., etc.. Then, after awhile, the buzz and hype would fade away, deployment would be delayed – and then forgotten. This phenomenon became know as “vaporware”.
I see the same cycle being repeated with energy storage. Now that energy storage is seen as crucial to integrating renewable energy, the press and media seem to be looking for any new and exciting concept or R&D that could result in a story, without really evaluating the potential for practical success or application to our need for storage.
For example, I have seen articles recently about storage from “bug farts“, “air fueled batteries“, and a new flow battery that is safer and more reliable, costs less, and would be a good fit for solar and wind farms- but they won’t talk about how it works.
I can’t say that all or any of these technologies will be the energy storage equivalent of vaporware, and some seem to have some pretty serious and knowledgeable people behind them. However, it seems easy to get a lot of press on a concept or technology that is years away from any practical application.
We should continue our R&D and enjoy discussing new and creative energy storage ideas – but we also need to be realistic about our need for energy storage, and our need to begin deploying those technologies that are available now. Vaporware isn’t going to solve our problems!