Originally Posted by CynicalUnicorn
There are ways to store energy, by the way, that don't require batteries. Any excess produced by a dam outside of peak hours can be used to move water uphill, and at later, it can be flooded through a dam. Solar fields can heat water stored in tanks for nighttime use.
And, continuous operation or not, it's still better to supplement fossil fuels with emission-free energy sources. Any joule produced by a dam or windmill is one that isn't
produced by coal or hydrocarbons.
Actually they do it with oil, and a lot of research is being poured into molten salt, which has immensely higher energy density.
Originally Posted by Mand12
Only if you don't build enough of them.
We could power the entire United States electricity demand just by solar plants in Arizona.
We're gonna need a heckuva lot of energy storage to time shift all that solar production to peak usage times. That's the problem. Solar produces all the energy when no one uses it, in the middle of the day. Our energy portfolio would be much easier to manage, and much cleaner, if we didn't have such radical swings between base load and peak demand. Natural gas burner rigs are so popular because they can be turned on and off quickly to meet demand. Can't do that with the most efficient power sources, like nuclear. The dream of all renewable energy is currently held back by our lack of energy storage. A few MW, yeah, a big salt tank can store it to shift a handful of hours. Storing GW for the demands of larger cities is beyond us. It would take too much salt (our current best tech for massive energy storage).