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Energy Storage Draws A Crowd But Solution Remains Elusive
CNBC.com | June 13, 2011 | 10:01 AM EDT

If the fear of running out of power on an interstate has given you pause about buying one of the new gas-electric models — even with sky-high gasoline prices — then you understand one of the major sticking points keeping electric utilities from generating huge amounts of solar and wind-powered electricity .

Often called the holy grail of renewable energy, large-scale electricity storage is a requirement for utilities like Duke Energy), which must ensure 4 million customers’ lights will stay on even when the wind stops blowing and the sun isn’t shining.

Even when renewable energy is relatively cheap to produce, current costs to store huge amounts of solar and wind power can be two or three times the value, according to a recent report by the Electric Power Research Institute , an industry-funded nonprofit research group.

“The person who can invent a way to store large amounts of energy is going to be the next Bill Gates,” says Jacques Besnainou, North American head of the French nuclear conglomerate, AREVA.

AREVA, like other major suppliers to the utility industry, is developing its own energy-storage system, as it supports growing demand for renewable energy.

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