Friday, 10 February 2017

A Perfect Low-Cost Energy Storage Solution For Ghana?

Some of our nation's politicians can sometimes say and do the strangest things. It is almost as if they inhabit a world all their own - a well-appointed bubble full of spoilt brats.

Yet, this is a time when all Ghanaians must work hard to make sure the new government succeeds -  for the sake of the younger generation.

Incredibly,  it  is precisely the time some of the extremists amongst our nation's mostly-feckless political class  have chosen to  rather fight over trivialities - when they need to cooperate in order to make the nation-building  effort in Ghana successful. Isn't it  time they grew up?

In a nation in which there is so much hardship, another front has now been opened in the daft propaganda war between the ruling  New Patriotic Party (NPP), and the main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Imagine that.

Apparently, the logo for the 60th Independence Day anniversary celebrations - which the Hon Ras Mubarak MP says is plagarised from that of a global  cultural diversity youth festival (which he doubtless attended because his party happened to be in power at the  time) - is an example of a lack of original thinking amongst NPP members.

On that basis, the Hon Ras Mubarak MP, the NDC member of Parliament for Kumbungu, is accusing the NPP of being bereft of original thinking and resorting to googling to seek ideas online. Wonders.

The question there is: Why waste time reinventing the wheel when there are countless  examples of successful models your party  can adapt for local conditions - especially when it  has only four years to fulfil the bulk of its promises to voters?

Perhaps the Hon Ras Mubarak - who himself is apparently no original thinker according to some of his critics - forgets that this is a nation where cultural practices kill curiosity in children: and rote learning then goes on to obliterate any vestiges  of creativity left in most young adults by the time they get to the tertiary-level on the educational ladder.

Is it therefore surprising that this is a society in which there is a dearth of creative and original thinkers?  When it comes to  improving the living standards of our people we must perforce be practical under the circumstances we find ourselves.

That is why it is vital that researchers for political parties in Ghana constantly scour the globe to find cutting-edge ideas that can contribute to the transformation of our country. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that if they are unable to come up with any original ideas of their own.

It is crucial that they also look for income-generation ideas to empower Ghana's base-of-the-pyramid demographic - for that is the strata of Ghanaian society most likely to embark on the kind of mass demonstrations that led to regime change in the Arab Spring that saw the toppling of the regimes of Tunisia's Ben Ali, Egypt's Mubarak and Libya's Gaddafi.

On our part, we do hope that the young Ghanaian entrepreneurs who regularly read this blog will be excited by today's culled article from RenewEconomy, written by Sophie Vorath, which  outlines a prize-winning invention by researchers in the University of South Australia that  offers a low-cost energy storage solution.

It is just the sort of idea that will be tremendously beneficial to our nation if adopted here.

Please read on:

''Molten salt storage for rooftop solar?

SA invention wins Eureka prize

By Sophie Vorrath on 27 August 2015

The University of South Australia researchers behind a low-cost energy storage solution that uses salt to store excess electricity have been honoured in Australia’s top science awards, winning the ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology.

The “phase change” energy storage technology, which has been patented and commercialised by Glaciem, uses surplus electricity – say from rooftop solar panels – to freeze salt compact coils inside a purpose-built storage tank, not unlike the old-style electric hot water heaters many Australians still have installed at their houses.

solar thermal salt

When that stored energy is needed – say, when the sun goes down, or when grid electricity prices go up – the compact coils release it through melting the salt.

Of course, the notion of using salts for energy storage is not a new one. Molten salt batteries are used at a number of large-scale solar thermal farms, including the world’s biggest solar tower and storage plant, the 110MW Crescent Dunes facility in Nevada, US.

And sodium-ion batteries are widely considered to be a contender to compete with, or replace, lithium-ion technology as the great new battery hope.

But the use of salt as a phase-change material for smaller-scale, rapid-discharge batteries for residential and commercial use – and at a cost of up to 10 times cheaper than batteries – is, apparently, unprecedented.

According to UniSA mechanical engineer, Associate Professor Frank Bruno, his team’s salt-based energy storage system has the advantage over other battery technologies currently on the market, because it is cheap, relatively compact for the amount of energy it can store, rapid discharge, and doesn’t eventually go flat.

He says in a demonstration video that the team used a “novel concept” to stabilise their phase-change materials, ensuring long life and improved responsiveness.

“The key was getting the price down, to try to develop energy storage that is effective and cheap,” Bruno told the Adelaide Advertiser.

“This energy storage technology can be used for refrigeration, or air conditioning for homes, or solar power plants, so, yes, it is a big change,” he said.

A full-scale commercial version of the technology is already being used at a farm in Australia, according to Bruno – not to store excess solar, but to store cheap electricity from the grid overnight, and then use that to power the farm’s cool rooms during the day, he told ABC Radio Nationals’ breakfast program."

End of culled RenewEconomy article by Sophie Vorath.

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