The problem of matching the production of renewable energy with electricity demand has been a major challenge standing in the way of wider adoption of solar and wind powered plants. While electricity demand can be forecast with a great deal of accuracy, it is much harder to predict when peak energy will be available from solar and wind sources.
A Wall Street Journal article and a related video which appears below provide more information regarding alternatives for storing energy for later use. One option is to use large scale batteries to store energy that is produced at times of weak demand. At a later point, the energy can be released from the batteries into the grid. Berkshire Hathaway’s MidAmerican Energy subsidiary has been exploring this concept with BYD, as I discussed in an article several months ago. While BYD has been in the news in recent months for its efforts to build an all-electric vehicle, the company’s roots are in battery technology.
Short of a wide-spread expansion of nuclear power, the desire to limit greenhouse gas emissions will require more renewable sources of energy in the future and companies like BYD may benefit from this trend. However, several other options for energy storage are discussed in the video which do not require batteries for storage.
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Disclosure: The author owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway.