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Response to yellowcanine (Reply #8)

Wed Jan 15, 2014, 06:29 PM

12. No.

The problem with storing solar energy is simple.

Batteries are big, expensive, and inefficient. Then, when they're worn out, you have a toxic mess to recycle and a lot of chemicals to dispose of. Bad.

Other ways of storing the energy are idiosyncratic--using the energy to pump water uphill, to pressurize gas. Then the potential energy can be converted (inefficiently) using turbines of some sort. Less polluting, but still wasteful.

This uses what amounts to the first part of photosynthesis. There was another breakthrough last year concerning this, but it was in a system that still had some drawbacks. This removes at least one of them.

Photosynthesis is pretty efficient.

The result is hydrogren, which can be used in fuel cells to produce electricity in a fairly efficient manner. Properly stored, the hydrogen is safe. Moreover, it can be transported (although that's a bit riskier). And there's no reason that you couldn't vastly overproduce the hydrogren for periods when the day was short or overcast.

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