When the sun shines, we may use batteries (technically energy stored as electrochemical potential) or supercapacitors to store the power created by solar cells or steam-driven turbines (energy stored in an electric field, due to the spatial separation of positive and negative charges). When it’s overcast or late at night, we can then discharge electrical energy.
There are at least two other methods for storing solar energy for later use. First, the heat capacity of a molten salt (the liquid form of an ionic chemical like sodium chloride) at a high temperature may be used to store the thermal energy of concentrated sunlight. Heat is transported from the molten salt to water via a heat exchanger to create steam, which drives a turbine when power is required later.
The use of sunshine to make a fuel is a second technique of capturing and storing solar energy. A photoelectrochemical cell, for example, splits water into hydrogen and oxygen gas, which may then be stored as fuels. In a device called a fuel cell, these gas are then recombined to create electricity. The fact that the fuel cell reaction’s output is essentially water is an appealing characteristic of this technology.
Another alternative for storing solar energy is battery storage. Batteries from companies like Tesla, LG, and sonnenBatterie are making solar with storage more accessible to homes. With batteries, you may be more self-sufficient from the grid. Instead of switching to grid power when the sun goes down, you may draw energy from your battery at night. In the event of a power outage, a battery backup is very useful. A solar battery might power your appliances and devices for a day or two. That should give your utility ample time to get everything back up and running. Of course, when it’s sunny, your solar panels will start up again, giving your battery a respite.
Solar energy may theoretically be retained mechanically for as long as potential energy is maintained. In all energy transmission, energy is lost, and leaks always occur during storage and release in the case of mechanical storage. The same may be said with batteries. A conventional solar battery can typically keep a charge for 1 to 5 days.
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