For all the excitement over the next big thing in lithium-ion batteries, the simple fact is that plain old water is the only large scale, long duration energy storage medium available today in the US and in many other parts of the world. The challenge is that water batteries — aka pumped hydropower — require expensive new infrastructure, which limits their application. That could be about to change, and it looks like the US Department of Energy is determined to be the change maker. A new pumped hydro energy storage breakthrough leverages plain old water to shepherd more wind and solar power onto the grid (image via NREL). But First, A Word About Seams To get a snapshot of how pumped hydro fits into the national energy profile, let’s go back to last week when The Atlantic published an account of the Energy Department’s ill-fated Interconnections Seam Study under the title and subtitle, “ How a Plan to Save the Power System Disappeared: A federal lab found a way to modernize the grid, reduce reliance on coal, and save consumers billions. Then Trump appointees blocked it.” The Seam study was a wide-ranging, collaborative effort aimed at enabling more electricity […]

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