Researchers across campus are seeking new solutions to the challenge of storing and transmitting renewable energy on the electric grid. In 2016, Stanford launched Bits & Watts, a research initiative focused on innovations for the 21st century electric grid. Most electricity delivered by utilities is produced at power plants fueled by natural gas, coal, uranium, hydro or geothermal. In recent years, grid operators have been adding solar- and wind-generated electricity to the mix. But wind turbines only operate in windy conditions, and solar cells do not work at night. Wind turbines and solar cells continue generating electricity even when demand is low, yet there is virtually no way to store that surplus energy on today’s grid. Stanford scientists and engineers are addressing the intermittency problem by developing new batteries, fuel cells and other grid-scale technologies to store surplus renewable electricity and deliver it on demand. Other researchers are designing smart grids, microgrids and transmission systems that can help manage the integration of wind and solar energy.
For more information, explore the Energy Storage & Grid Modernization research areas: