Mini-nukes and Musk’s batteries can solve the energy crisis –

Battery technology has followed an almost identical exponential downward path to solar panels. The cost per kilowatt-hour of lithium-ion has fallen by 89pc since 2010, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. 

The cost of electric cars, for example, is approaching parity with petrol-powered ones. As a solution for home storage, they are still prohibitively expensive – Tesla’s Powerwall starts at £8,700 – but prices will come down too.

A better solution would be improving energy storage connected to the grid itself. Large lithium-ion battery installations have proven troublesome partly because of fire risks associated with them, which have in turn provoked local opposition. Safer forms of batteries, such as vanadium-flow or sodium-ion, offer possible solutions.

Molten salt storage, which is being championed by the likes of Malta, a Google spin-out, presents another alternative. The company, which has been backed by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, stores thermal energy at high temperatures before being converted back to electricity through a heat engine.

Similar technology could be used for a new generation of mini nuclear reactors such as those being proposed by Rolls-Royce.

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