I’m surprised Google Energy has still not got it…
How did they create the most competitive data centres in the world to grow so fast? How could they build the most competitive energy storage centres in the world?*
If you know the answer to the first one, you probably know what I mean in the case of energy storage.The key was and is to use inexpensive harware. With servers, rapid obsolescence meant they wouldn’t need to repair the PCs used for their servers, many of the servers wouldn’t ever work, and the design had to be optimized to work around these failures. Of course now they are interested in the most energy efficient server systems, as that is the main cost for operating data centres, but the cheap and fast concept remains.
In the case of battery storage, there is abundant inexpensive (used) hardware, from cellphone batteries, laptops to car batteries, that would have to be partially “recycled”, but still much cheaper than new. (with the ecological benefit of avoiding disposal to landfills, where unfortunately most batteries end-up) Although batteries represent 80-90% of an energy storage system, the case remains that the control system is key, as it must be designed to optimize charging and discharging and not be affected by battery failures. With the additional difficulty of different voltage levels for different battery types, both software and power electronics have to be optimized. Google should be able to revolutionize energy storage with the same idea that help them succeed with data.
…or a start-up such as Google when they designed the first servers.
*They could use for example for off-grid 100% renewable data centres
PS: It might seem I’m contradicting my previous article on why we didn’t need batteries without wheels. But using second life e-vehicle batteries or other second hand batteries for energy storage centres is working with what you have or recycling. Besides if these batteries are not valid for vehicles, no point putting them on wheels. But if a second-hand-battery electric vehicle is designed, much better! Actually that is what Local Motors (for example) could do to competitively democratize and open-source E-vehicles.