NewEnergyNews: Storing More Energy Cheaper And Faster Than Batteries

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    Thursday, April 18, 2019

    Storing More Energy Cheaper And Faster Than Batteries

    These huge towers of bricks are an ingenious solution to our energy storage problem

    Adele Peters, April 8, 2019 (Fast Company)

    Energy Vault uses cranes powered by renewables to lift [35-metric-ton bricks] into a tower. When the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing, lowering the bricks back down creates new energy. It’s one of Fast Company’s 2019 World Changing Ideas Awards winners…[A full-size commercial demonstration in Milan, Italy, will show how] the system uses gravity to store energy as it raises and lowers the bricks…Running a wind or solar farm is now cheaper than many old coal plants, but the economics of storing energy is still an issue…[W]hen a utility needs to store electricity for more than a few hours, it’s still hard for the cost of that storage to compete with fossil fuels…When a solar farm produces extra electricity during the day, giant cranes use that energy to lift and stack the bricks, storing energy through the elevation gain. When the energy is later needed, software tells the system to lower the bricks, and that spins generators to send electricity back into the grid. The system can respond within a millisecond…

    Energy Vault is in talks with other customers about more than 1,200 potential towers…[The cranes can be delivered within months and erected within weeks, without the huge investment of a battery factory. The bricks themselves can be made on-site from materials such as concrete construction debris–which would otherwise go to a landfill–or soil. At a coal plant that plans to close and reopen renewable energy on-site, the bricks could be made from coal ash that companies would otherwise have to spend money to clean up…The [few cents per kilowatt hour] cost of storage over the lifetime of the new system is seven times cheaper than lithium batteries…” click here for more

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