Ultracapacitors: the game-changer for renewable energy sources?

Paul Raven @ 21-09-2009

Sf author Karl Schroeder points us to a development that may redraw the map for renewable energy use. EEStor, long suspected by some to be the sort of vapourware company that spends a few years making big promises before dissolving in a puff of evaporating venture capital, are believed to have applied for certification of their ultracapacitor technology.

There’s a Wikipedia page on ultracapacitors, which have existed for some time in smaller form, but here’s Schroeder’s summary:

… the ultimate in electricity-storage technology:  a device capable of running your car for hundreds of miles on one charge, and of recharging in under five minutes.  A device that is not a battery, and hence never wears out.  A technology that would make intermittent power generation sources such as windmills directly competitive with baseload generation sources such as coal.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? As pointed out by Schroeder, there’s a great deal of justifiable skepticism around the technology in general and the EEStor news in particular – snake-oil is still a thriving business in the information age, after all. But signs suggest we’ll find out the truth behind the speculation pretty soon… and if we dare to hope that this is the real thing, perhaps we’re about to see what Schroeder calls “a truly disruptive change […] nothing less than the first nail in the coffin of the fossil fuel age.”