Professor Steven Chu, a former Obama-era energy secretary, has said that battery plants are too expensive to be used for long term energy needs, due to their lack of storage capacity.
The Nobel laureate said that Elon Musk’s lithium-ion battery in South Australia had cost 40 times the amount it cost for an equivalently powered hydro-electric dam and would never be cost efficient enough to handle the vast shifts in renewable power production.
Chu told the Australian: “You need other new technologies to convert cheap renewable energy into chemical fuel when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.”
Serving in Obama’s cabinet between 2009 and 2013, Chu was the first scientist to hold a senior US political position.
He also said that the manufacturing cost for utility scale storage would need to be below USD 100 a kilowatt hour, with power economies would be determined by variable factors such as carbon pricing and the need to stabilize the grid.
In November last year, Chu criticised South Korea’s plans to increase its use of renewables, saying solar and wind were not viable.