I agree that this is an idea who's time has come. It reduces the environmental footprint and enables a certain degree of direct control by the end user. Hopefully the heat from these solar panels can be captured also and used for water heating and building heat when the temperature falls. They also reduce the load on AC units since they block the suns heat a certain amount.
I live in eastern Canada where Hydro is king but I have an idea for a Wave Energy Converter which I am working on and I am also interested in energy storage.
If you look at the link shown, I believe it can be used within large Hydro reservoirs to store other types of energy. This would enable solar, wind and others to have a common storage facility easily connected to the grid. it can be compared to a bank or credit union whereby depositors store money for a period of time until needed and then withdrawn.
It is interesting that ships were mentioned in the article. It is high time we looked at a new design for ships whereby ocean going vessels would buy/generate electricity from renewable sources such as wind, wave and tidal, store this energy on board and use it to power the entire ship with excess stored power sold back to the grid on the next port of call.
The solutions needed for wind mill blades may be found in nature. Maybe we should study birds and see how their wind structures are evolved to adapt to certain conditions and apply these principles to turbine blade design.
I think we should demand that all levels of government look at geothermal heat pumps as the main and preferred source of heating and cooling for all houses and buildings. This combined with sound insulation practices, solar panels and ever evolving battery technology could remove heating and AC from the grid altogether.
Nega-watts are always better than Mega-watts any day.
The new swimming pool in my community has an energy form of a different mix. Geothermal and waste heat from the nearby hockey stadium are used to heat both the pool,gym and public centre while the new structure also collects rain water for use in the toilets.
Sports complexes when planned as multi use facilities can seriously reduce the amount of energy used as compared to when built as stand alone structures.
Ideally we could compare Hydrogen production with other energy production forms. Even at %40 efficiency we are not far off from the tar sands which produce at about 1 barrel of oil to refine it into a marketable product for every 3 barrels actually produced. Remember that the CO2 emissions from renewable energy production and storage are zero whereas the Tar Sands in Alberta (and Bakken shale deposits also) are probable greater than coal.
Myself I would favour using existing hydro facilities and pumped storage as well as another type of storage that utilizes "holes" in the water or pumped storage in reverse to store excess electricity production. This is pegged at about %70 efiiciency.
You should include in that list a group called Ethical Oil disguised as a promoter of the Tar Sands instead of imported Mid East oil. Their aim is the same. To promote oil development and use above all else.
I think rather than refueling stations we should be concentrating on storage exchange stations. A driver would simply exchange the empty storage container for a filled one. This would eliminate the need for expensive infrastructure such as pipelines and could use the already available electrical grid to produce the hydrogen from excess renewable energy with filling stations strategically located for safety, transport and access.
Dennis: I like your way of thinking. Efficiency and conservation should and must take precedent over all other developments. This is the only way renewables will overtake fossil fuel based energy systems.
Excellent article. I would have hoped that the author would have commented on Flow Batteries and the recent development from Harvard researchers regarding the use of quinones, an inexpensive and environmentally sound chemical that makes the storage of large amounts of electricity possible.