Batteries can’t solve the world’s biggest energy-storage problem. One startup has a solution.
December 11, 2017
Sometimes, there can be too much of a good thing.
Every so often, from California to Germany, there’s news of “negative electricity prices,” a peculiar side effect of global efforts to generate clean energy. Solar farms and wind turbines produce varying amounts of power based on the vagaries of the weather. So we build electrical grids to handle only the power levels we expect in a given location. But in some cases, there’s more sun or wind than expected, and these renewable energy sources pump in more power than the grid can handle. The producers of that power then have to pay customers to use up the excess electricity; otherwise, the grid would be overloaded and fail.
As we build more and more renewable-power capacity in efforts to meet the emissions-reduction goals of the Paris climate agreement, these situations will become more common. Startups led by entrepreneurs who see this future on the horizon are now looking for ways to make money off the inevitable excess clean electricity.