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A frequent criticism of solar power is that the sun only shines brightly for part of the day, and that many of the times when there is significant electrical load (EG when people get home from work in winter) the sun light will be weak. One interesting solution to this problem is to store the solar power by splitting ammonia into nitrogen and hydrogen gases, storing them separately, and then reacting them to produce super-heated steam for power generation at any time that power is needed. The technology is based on three decades of research at ANU and the Federal government has allocated $7,400,000 for building a power station near Whyalla in South Australia.
The down-side to this is that it needs water for the steam part of the electricity generation process which is a minor problem as we are having water shortages in most parts of Australia. But the up-side is that the process of combining nitrogen and hydrogen to produce heat should be something that can be turned on rapidly. So it seems that there is potential for having a wind power plant designed to satisfy all the power requirements on windy days and store hydrogen and nitrogen for times when there the combination of sunlight and wind is not adequate to satisfy the power requirements.
Previous plans for the maximum possible use of renewable energy in producing electricity have included gas fired power plants for times when wind and solar power can’t meet the demand. It seems that with technology such as this one it will be practical to have all electricity produced from renewable sources of energy.Tags: Environment