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    Solar Flow Batteries | A Record-Breaking & Cost-Effective Threat To Coal

    October 3, 2018 | Commercial Energy, Commercial Solar, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Sustainability

    14.1%. That number may not seem like much out of context, but it means a lot for the future of renewable energy. According to a recent scientific article published by Cell Press, new monolithically-integrated solar flow batteries have set the new record in solar-to-output electricity efficiency at 14.1%.

    The breakthrough technology is a result of the efforts of chemistry professor Song Jin (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and electrical engineering professor Jr-Hau He (Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology).  

    Their collaborative work combines the concept of conventional flow batteries with solar cell technology. Moreover, they aim to create a more compact and efficient single unit to integrate with existing renewable energy grids easily.

    How Conventional Flow Batteries Work

    A flow battery, or redox flow battery, relies on the motion of chemical components dissolved in liquid. A thin membrane usually separates these liquids. However, this is not always the case, as scientists have developed hybrid and membraneless flow batteries.

    Either way, these electrochemical cells are used like fuel cells and rechargeable batteries. The two liquids stay dormant in separate tanks until energy is needed. Then, when the fluids flow together into a stack, the battery discharges energy.

    To recharge, the battery merely pumps the liquids back into their respective tanks. The longevity of energy storage with this process is almost limitless. However, they are currently too bulky and not incredibly powerful on their own.

    The problem with conventional flow batteries is their impracticality. Unlike other forms of battery, flow batteries are still not extraordinarily efficient. This is where solar cells come in.

    What Solar Flow Batteries Mean For The Future

    Professors Song Jin and Jr-Hau He integrated a solar cell with a flow battery system, thus increasing the overall efficiency while also allowing for a more compact and practical all-in-one unit.

    The solar cell used for demonstration purposes is still a pricey one, but that doesn’t scientists cannot develop more economical solar cells. The professors believe it will soon be just as cheap, if not cheaper, than using solar cells and energy storage batteries separately.

    Furthermore, these solar flow batteries can operate in three different modes. Not only do they store solar energy, but it can provide power directly from the solar cell. In addition, the batteries can also recharge from any source of electricity.

    This makes solar flow batteries very easily integrate-able with existing energy grids. A source-neutral system allows for compatibility with other types of renewable energy as well.

    Overall, these solar flow batteries are the next step in the ever-important path towards 100% renewable energy. As renewable energy technology becomes cheaper and more efficient, it becomes more practical.

    The U.S. Department of Energy is planning for the future with their Grid Modernization Initiative. Energy stockholders are beginning to weigh the costs of renovating old coal plants vs. implementing new technologies.

    The time is now. Renewable energy is our future and businesses, investors, stockholders, and governments across the world are realizing this and investing in the future.

    Non-renewables like coal, fossil fuels, and natural gasses are on their way out and the energy industry knows it.

    Invest in the Future. Invest in Solar.

    In the transition to fully renewable energy, solar energy is a smart and attainable source of power. Solar energy reduces both energy use and consumer costs.

    Reduce your carbon footprint. Invest in the future.  Go green. Get clean. Save the environment and, consequently, your finances.

    The future of renewable energy is ours to create. Installing solar panels and other forms of renewable energy help in the fight for clean

    Take the first step in your path towards green energy with renewable solar energy for your commercial property.

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