Amid the hum and heat of Berlin’s Reuter thermal power station stands a shining contraption that looks out of place in the decades-old machine hall.
Its silver pipes and vats contain a substance that Vattenfall, the plant’s operator, says could become a key ingredient for a fossil fuel-free future.
The energy company, together with a Swedish start-up, is testing the use of salt — though not quite the common table variety — to store heat, which accounts for more than half the power consumed in Germany.
If it works well, the system could help solve a problem posed by renewable energy sources like wind and solar the world over: they are unreliable, meaning they sometimes generate too much, and sometimes too little power.
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