Vanadium: The metal that may soon be powering your neighbourhood

Hawaii has a problem, one that the whole world is likely to face in the next 10 years. And the solution could be a metal that you’ve probably never heard of – vanadium.

Hawaii’s problem is too much sunshine – or rather, too much solar power feeding into its electricity grid.

Generating electricity in the remote US state has always been painful. With no fossil fuel deposits of its own, it has to get oil and coal shipped half-way across the Pacific.

That makes electricity in Hawaii very, very expensive – more than three times the US average – and it is the reason why 10% and counting of the islands’ residents have decided to stick solar panels on their roof.

The problem is that all this new sun-powered electricity is coming at the wrong place and at the wrong time of day.

Hawaii’s electricity monopoly, Heco, fears parts of the grid could become dangerously swamped by a glut of mid-day power, and so last year it began refusing to hook up the newly-purchased panels of residents in some areas.

Read the article here