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Thursday, 9 June 2011

Startup's Battery Could Provide Cheaper Grid Storage

Technology Review
June 8, 2011

A startup called Primus Power has received $11 million in venture capital to help it build the first full-scale version of a new, low-cost flow battery. The company earlier received $18 million via multiple government grants. Its battery is designed to help stabilize the power grid, making electricity cheaper, and making it easier for utilities to integrate intermittent renewable power sources like wind and solar.

Primus Power is trying to overcome one of the fundamental problems that have plagued flow batteries. The technology, in theory, at least, could be one of the cheapest forms of grid storage, since it requires inexpensive and abundant materials. But in practice, flow batteries have been very expensive, in part because they're large and have to be custom-built on site. Primus is hoping get around this with a new design that can be mass-produced in factories.

The need for such batteries has been growing as utilities anticipate increases in demand that could overload the power grid. Also, many states, most notably California, require the use of large amounts of renewable energy, but because such forms of energy are intermittent, it's difficult for utilities to maintain the match between supply and demand needed to prevent blackouts.
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