Due to their decreasing costs, lithium-ion batteries now dominate a range of applications including electric vehicles, computers and consumer electronics.
Imagine if your clothing could, on demand, release just enough heat to keep you warm and cozy, allowing you to dial back on your thermostat settings and stay comfortable in a cooler room. Or, picture a car windshield that stores the sun’s energy and then releases it as a burst of heat to melt away a layer of ice. ccording to a team of researchers at MIT, both scenarios may be possible before long.
How to store energy has become as important a challenge as how to generate it. The types of batteries that power our electronic devices or vehicles are tried and tested, but they’re not suitable for really large-scale energy storage – the sort of batteries that can power whole communities, key emergency services and critical infrastructure.
A large solar thermal electricity plant will soon begin operating near Ouarzazate, Morocco, which will reportedly bring energy to a million people when fully complete. But what is solar thermal electricity and how does it differ from the method used to generate power from the solar panels you might be more familiar with?