It is not always convenient or practical to generate electricity where and when it is needed. This is particularly true of renewable energy sources such as wind, wave, tidal and solar power. Similarly, hybrid and electric vehicles need to store electricity. Standby power supplies are essential for hospitals, nuclear power stations and other critical equipment. The traditional solution has been to use rechargeable batteries.
Many rechargeable battery chemistries exist, each with its own characteristics such as energy storage capacity for a given weight, operating temperature range and discharge characteristics. Nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries remain in use for certain applications. (They should be recycled responsibly at end-of-life.) Today, nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries are in widespread use for hybrid vehicles, portable power tools and electronic equipment. However, battery technology is evolving continually and lithium ion batteries are taking over in some applications. However, nickel still has a role to play there as well.
There are other approaches to energy storage on different scales. Pumped storage schemes use a hydroelectric installation to pump water to an upper reservoir using off-peak electricity. They can be brought onto load very quickly to satisfy a peak demand. See Hydropower.
More indirect is to use an electrolyser to produce hydrogen which can be stored under pressure or liquefied or as a hydride. All involve nickel-containing materials.
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