Time to lift the hood on innovation and reassert American Leadership.
— Frank Prautzsch, CEO, Birmingham Technologies, Inc.
DISTRIBUTED POINT-OF-PRESENCE ENERGY
Directly or indirectly, energy is used in virtually every product or service in this country. Historically, it has been generated centrally and distributed over very long distances. This expensive and vulnerable architecture could benefit from a clean distributed energy resource with high energy density that could satisfy all local loads – from milliwatt to megawatt requirements. BT’s goal is to develop such an energy source that would be long-lived, economical, and environmentally friendly.
Vast amounts of money are being expended in an effort to improve electrochemical batteries. The goals are to make them safer, longer-lasting, and cheaper. BT’s view, though, is that conventional electrochemical batteries will always be far less than an ideal solution. While lithium-ion rechargeable batteries have dropped in price, they still have limited discharge potential and a comparatively high levelized cost of energy (LCOE).
BT’s research and development suggest strongly that energy harvesting technology could provide a far longer, far cheaper distributed energy solution than any power storage solution. That is especially true in terms of resilience. Lithium-ion and other storage solutions could well be an excellent complement to BT’s energy harvesting solution, but the cost of enough systemic or distributed energy storage to handle longer-term power outages, let alone power blackouts, will remain extraordinarily expensive.
BT believes that very wide and deep market penetration of energy harvesting units installed adjacent to, or actually integrated inside, all manner of power-consuming devices from milliwatt to megawatt is entirely feasible. Structures could contain further energy harvesting capacity – as could local megawatt arrays to add layers of resilience, peaking, and stabilization to a grid of many microgrids. In time the technology might be more widely deployed to provide a new decentralized energy generation architecture. But our research and development efforts now are focused on producing energy harvesting technology, which can be reliably incorporated into today’s grid in small steps.