Ann, there is no need to cobble together DC systems, storage, AC or otherwise as they have been done for well over a century.
I came to off grid as a boat electrician designing cruising boat electric power systems to run friges, lights, fans, etc. Boats, ships have been doing these as standard since 1900. Subs still run on batteries even nuke ones as do forklifts, etc.
It's really very old tech now for instance small wind was perefected in the 30's many of which are still running including one by Admiral Byrd at his, US arctic station they use to keep diesel cost down.
I think Jerry's point is also well taken: that there are a surprising number of energy generating and storage technologies already available to us, especially if we're willing to do some innovative "system design" and hands-on cobbling together, or buy a system from someone else who does this. Even in First World countries, people have been doing a lot of DYI portable/DC power systems for a long time, most of them out in the country where there are no distribution systems, for oil, gas, or electricity grids, or in a marine/aquatic context.
I did not say I consume as much power as I want. I consume as much power as I am willing to pay for. When the bill goes up, I consume less, or seek my own generation. At this time, the cost to generate my own versus paying the electric bill is motivating me to seek out these capabilities. My point is that many people do not want to change lifestyle for the sake of technology. They want technology to make that choice null and void!
If energy generation and storage are affordable, lifestyle maintained and/or improved, new technology is embraced by the free markets and mass production commences. Anything else is a mandate on my choices and counters my inclination of freedom.
GTOlover, that's certainly true to some extent about changing energy quantities when moving off the grid (although I wasn't talking only about going entirely off-grid in the sense of lowering electricity usage: fuel cells don't exactly qualify for that status). OTOH, that's a very First World perception: that we can, and should, use as much as we want. As Mydesign points out, in many countries electrical power is scarce. I find it interesting that many innovative portable energy production schemes are being devised in those countries that use less energy and also cost less, because those were among the design goals from the start.
We are already there where homes, buildings make their own power and store it cheaply.
RE are really simple machines, devices, more simple than a moped or A/C system that cost no more than $2k/kw with almost no costs after installing for 20-50 yrs!!
PV is already there and an A/C run in reverse as a solar, biomass/pellet or combo heat engine can supply power/heat on demand yet cost no more than a home central air system.
Wind also is simple only a 2kw alternator with 3 7' blades, some bearings, other minor parts can supply in many cases the power a home, build needs.
EV's can be intergrated into the system as part of the storage.
There is no new tech needed, just needs to be produced in mass production.
My 4 person sail/solar/wind/tidal powered 34' trimaran I'm building now taking just 2 months will only need a $1k-1kw PV array for all my power including A/C which PV tracks perfectly which I'm retiring onto. The others are for preproduction testing.
So $1k for most of the energy I need for the rest of my life is rather a bargain and no way a utility could even come close to competing with.
My EV's get 20-30 miles/kwhr because they are light and aero. My new 2 seat, 2wh Streamliner will not only give me cross-country ability at under $.01/mile energy and $.03/mile total.
Plus as good crash protection as a car has is like home, building made power, the future.
Storage is already very low at about $10/yr/kwhr using golf cart batteries well shopped so that isn't a real problem anyway.
I would also like to point out that generating your own energy to move "off the grid" may involve a lifestyle change. I refuse to change my electrical consumption as long as I can afford to pay the distribution network.
Now a day may come that I will have to make that choice, but that may require me to lower my standard of living, or rely on technology to improve. The latter is not a sure thing so my immediate prospect is to champion ALL energy resources!
TJ, that's the idea: many previous forms of energy--like sunlight for example, or firewood--were "delivered" to individual local households. My point is, if the house itself is generating the energy--or even a block of houses--no "delivery" is needed, thus no distribution channels, no middlemen charging an arm and a leg, etc. I've become a lot more aware of this after moving out to the woods where my house, for example, is heated via propane and firewood. I'm also considering wind power. But local "delivery" is even the model for local fuel cells. The more locally the energy is produced, the less of a problem storage becomes.
Though I agree with you on people living "off the grid". I always caution the idea. I use solar cells to supplement my home power use, but I do not have enough available roof space or open ground for additional arrays. The alternative is to change my lifestyle. Call me selfish, but if I can afford to pay the electric company, I do not care to change. To implement the idea of everyone generating their own power would require everyone to adjust their lifestyle to their capability. Look how we treat people who make more money than others. Imagine what we would do to those prolific in generation of their own energy!
Energy storage may be useful for balancing loads, but I do not believe it will ever develop enough for mainstream power source (assuming they are only used for renewable energy storage devices). The expansion of power storage will benefit the transportation industry the most!
I don't think this would be portable energy storage. I see it more as a tank farm where the chemicals are moved for a "discahrged" tank to a charged tank. Then a demand excededs the supply from renewable sources, the fluid is moved back form the "charged" tank to the "Discahrged" tank and the energy re-claimed. Otherwise we would have a mechanical system that would be dropping off "charged" fluid at everyones house and picking up "discharged" fluid. Probabbly much more efficient to move the energy through power lines to everyones house as it is a much simpler system, and requires very little human interaction to make it happen. Also it would require that these systems be installed in every house and business. And more cost to maintain them scattered all over. One locatin with pumps and tanks and the related skilled people to maintain. And in some areas they might even be able to use gravity for part of the move.
Something similar is done with Hydro-Electric power. There are a number of places (Niagara Falls for one) where the Hydro Plants move water to lakes and ponds during the low demand hours overnight and use that pumped water during the day to increase flows and power output.
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