“Information batteries” are a type of battery in which energy is stored in the form of information. A paper co-authored by Jennifer Switzer from UC San Diego and Barath Raghavan from USC takes a deep dive into IB. The paper, Information Batteries Storing Opportunity Power with Speculative Execution, explains how the authors took a distributed systems perspective and evaluated how an IB storage system can be made practical through various forms of modern hyper-scale compute.
Information batteries, the authors pointed out, involve an approach of storing energy as completed precomputation that can meet or exceed the end-t0-end efficiency of grid-scale storage using existing infrastructure. Information batteries, the paper shows, has the potential to be a cost-effective means to handle the growing renewable energy intermittency by using large-scale computing infrastructure.
“With Information Batteries, we propose the storage of energy as information, using the large and growing footprint of computing to perform both the functions of storage and load shifting. This approach hinges on three observations. First, data centers worldwide consume large amounts of electricity (250–500 TWh in 2018) and are projected to become even more power (840–3640 TWh in 2030 ).2 Second, many computational tasks can be precomputed in whole or in part. Third, both power availability and compute demands are somewhat predictable, and thus it is possible to do speculative load shifting.
“Rather than storing excess energy as a chemical (lithium-ion) or gravitational (pumped hydro) potential, an IB system stores this as information—completed computations. When excess renewable energy is available, an IB system uses this excess to perform precomputable, energy-intensive computations. The results of these computations are then stored for when they are needed
It’s an interesting and logical approach to storing excess renewable energy generation. You can read the full paper here.
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