A rare example of how tax money should actually be spent

Rhubarb

Hey, Warren Buffett, how’s the rhubarb crop this year?

The Nevada Legislature set up Buffett to make millions in profits from his newly acquired toy, NV Energy, by passing a law that requires lots of capital investment in new power plants — mostly wind and solar. The more investment by the monopoly utility the more return on equity.

But for how long?

As I’ve suggested in the past, who needs a power grid when everyone can produce — and store for later — their own power? People could generate power with wind and solar technology. They just need the ability to cheaply store the power when the wind doesn’t blow or sun doesn’t shine.

I quoted the Edison Electric Institute awhile back as saying:

“While we would expect customers to remain on the grid until a fully viable and economic distributed non-variable resource is available, one can imagine a day when battery storage technology or micro turbines could allow customers to be electric grid independent. To put this into perspective, who would have believed 10 years ago that traditional wire line telephone customers could economically ‘cut the cord?’”

So, where’s rhubarb, Bub?

Greenwire is reporting today that Harvard University researchers have created a low-cost battery that could power a home or backup wind farms and solar panels.

The battery uses quinones which are common organic molecules that plants and animals use to store energy. The team sorted thousands of quinone molecules to find the best for a battery, and the one they settled on is almost identical to one found in rhubarb, the common bitter vegetable.

“The whole world of electricity storage has been using metal ions in various charge states, but there is a limited number that you can put into solution and use to store energy, and none of them can economically store massive amounts of renewable energy,” Greenwire quotes Roy Gordon, a professor of chemistry and materials science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy provided $590,000 for the project — much less than was blown on all those “green” energy companies that went bankrupt. That’s where tax money should be spent — research, not padding the pockets of cronies of Obama and Harry Reid.

The team’s findings were published today in the journal Nature.