Just add water salt battery could help renewable energy use

BERLIN — 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.Frank Jordans, The Associated Press