Lead acid batteries are the best known of all rechargeable batteries. These are the cells used in automobiles worldwide as well as for small-scale energy storage in homes and offices. Advanced lead acid cells have been developed for utility storage applications, the largest being for a 10-MW plant in California.
Lead acid batteries operate at ambient temperature and use a liquid electrolyte. They are extremely heavy and have a poor energy density but neither of these is a major handicap for stationary applications. They are also cheap and can be recycled many times, though they should not be completely discharged as this can cause problems.
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The solar Stirling engine is progressively becoming a viable alternative to solar panels for its higher efficiency. Stirling engines might be the best way to harvest the power provided by the sun. This is an easy-to-understand explanation of how Stirling engines work, the different types, and why they are more efficient than steam engines.