The World's Largest Battery Isn't What You Think

Published 2022-04-19
Exploring the world's largest batteries. Old tech could still be the future of energy storage. Go to to sign up for free. And also, the first 200 people will get 20% off their annual premium membership. Because of the intermittency of renewable energy like wind and solar power, storing large amounts of electricity is a necessity for the decarbonization of our energy system. However, we still don't have enough batteries to compensate for renewable energy slumps across the planet. When thinking about the biggest utility-scale energy storage installations, a huge cylindrical lithium ion battery powered light bulb may go off in your head. But what if I told you the world’s largest battery taps into water rather than lithium? Can an old technology, even one still learning new tricks, be the answer? Let’s see if we can come to a decision on this.

7:04 Clarification - $100/kWh is the build cost.

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All Comments (21)
  • @brucec954
    Seems like desert pumped Hydro would benefit from adding floating solar panels which help reduce evaporation and keeps the panels cooler.
  • @jasonta12
    This definitely reminded me of an article by low tech magazine where they talked about using compressed air for home energy use. It's always interesting to see what we can do with older tech to deal with modern problems
  • Great video Matt!
    I think we need to maximise the use of the simpler solutions that you covered along with other low tech ones in order to save lithium and other materials that have to be mined and processed for more important uses. Processing all those elements requires a lot of energy and comes with a lot of environmental baggage.
  • @lukedorny
    Matt, your powerfully-presented presentation puns pack a pretty impressive punch, as such improving your persistently pleasing presentation is practically impossible. Your persona and presence are a plus and you’re persistently on-point. Props. applause 👏
  • Interesting topic and pleasant presentation. There's still a recurrent problem with units here such as at t=576 "Projected Li-ion capacity increase = 28GW/year". KW, MW and GW are units of *power*, for example the instantaneous output from a storage plant. KWh, MWh and GWh are storage *capacities*. GWh/year is an annual increase in power storage capacity. Any given storage plant needs rating in terms of three things, power eg in MW, capacity eg in MWh and storage efficiency as a %. Sorry for the nitpick!
  • Just like our current methods for energy sourcing, our strategy for energy storage will and should be diverse. While Im a huge fan of it, pumped hydro is very limited in terms of Geographical constraints. It seems like the stars have to allign for pumped hydro to be effective, large elevation changes, close enough to populated areas, and a viable source of water. Considering the location and scale of these systems the construction costs are very high.

    What I really enjoy is how energy storage can be in many different forms: chemical, mechanical, gravitational, thermal, pneumatic...ect. Whether it be conventional batteries, flywheels, raised weights, water, molten salt, or pressurized thicc air, there are plenty of options for price range and scale for these systems.
  • @Daekar3
    I would love to see an update on flow batteries. They take up a bit more space, but I was under the impression that they are reliable and far cheaper per unit of stored energy. There is even a company that makes shipping container batteries that use salt water (or something close to it) as the electrolyte.
  • I absolutely love your take on pumped hydro. It seems that every time I point out on social media that niche solutions aren't the answer, I get a lot of hate. A lot of peoples have yet to figure out that viable solutions need to be scalable to industrial scales.
  • Hey Matt! It is incredible how your videos are becoming more and more interesting as time passes by. This video is one of your best in my opinion. I left Discord. Sorry for not being around your channel anymore. You are a great guy, always answering even when people are not friendly. Still uncertain of why this channel is called "Undecided". 😆 Congrats!
  • @rickrys2729
    Lithium Ion is great for high power, but costs a lot to store a lot of energy. Great presentation Matt. In New England I can image that we use offshore wind in combination with 35GW of Quebec hydro operated to store energy. Not a trivial problem but perhaps our future.
  • @RN1441
    Thank you for making this video, as storage really is a missing link in the renewable energy supply chain. It seems that many countries and regions have in recent years dramatically scaled up their renewable energy production but done nearly nothing in comparison for renewable energy storage leading to reliability and cost problems.
  • personally I am a fan of the iron/salt water batteries in combination with graphene capacitors. It's simple, elegant and can work pretty much everywhere. and the materials are both cheap and abundant. graphene capacitors are still struggling to be mass produced though.
  • @ErikGsson
    ”You cant store the energy in thin air, but you can in thick air” -Matt Ferrell 2022
  • @FKeyPianoMan
    Always love your videos! I feel a little smarter after watching each one. And they give me some hope for the future. Thank you Matt
  • @xaninator
    I wonder if the underground compressed air could also do some sort of geothermal process to get even more energy, or at least use geothermal to heat/cool buildings nearby
  • So thank you for posting this video, as I had not really thought too about these methods of producing and story energy, and so I find this to be quite interesting, and a real eye-opener too. Cheers!🥂
  • @joelwolski
    I saw a video recently about a "gravity battery" that uses an automated crane to lift massive blocks of concrete with excess power and then lower them to generate power. I think the prototype they showed was in Switzerland and it almost felt like a work of kinetic art.
  • @davids6977
    I must say, your channel is awesome.. I wish you could do more content on other issues.. I know one man can only do so much... I for one thank you for your time and efforts...
  • @greggrant4614
    Thanks for your update on pumped hydro and compressed air storage alternatives for addressing the storage needs for peak power times, particularly for integrating more renewable energy into our electrical generation systems. Cost comparisons between energy storage alternatives are very dependent on the duration of storage, whether the duration of the peak is for a few seconds (for voltage/frequency control), minutes, hours, days or even months at a time, like seasonal loads. Can you please try to qualify your cost comparisons accordingly, so we can better appreciate that different technologies might be more advantageous for these different duration peaks. Otherwise, you may leave us all more confused rather than better understanding the alternatives in this crucial, rapidly developing arena, particularly for better utilizing more renewable solar and wind power generation in our overall energy picture.