How Should Texas Store Energy?

The next big challenge in using renewable energy like wind power is storage.  

By Laura RiceDecember 11, 2015 2:09 pm

We all know oil is big business in Texas, but so is renewable energy. Texas produces more wind energy than any other state and it’s also home to major investments in solar. But the challenge for years has been how to make energy that’s dependent on the wind blowing and the sun shining – available whenever you need it. It’s a challenge Paul Chu has been working on. He’s founding director and chief scientist at the University of Houston’s Texas Center for Superconductivity.

When we think of stored electricity, usually we think of batteries, which are a form of electro-chemical energy, he says.

“If you store it in battery form… usually it’s harder to draw the energy out,” Chu says. “Also, it’s harder to put a larger amount of energy in.”

Electro-magnetic energy storage means more energy can be stored and it can be drawn out more quickly. The technology already exists, Chu says, but it’s still too expensive for widespread use.

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– What an electro-magnetic storage system would look like

– How it’s different from chemical storage, like batteries

– What widespread use of electro-magnetic storage could mean for the Texas grid and how soon the state could implement it