With innovative thoughts and technologies people are now Renewable Energy Solutions
In the world today, there is a growing shift towards renewable energy solutions, such as solar and wind. Because of this shift, there needs to be a way to store the energy received to be released later when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. And so far there have been discoveries like Tesla’s ground energy storage that plans for the utility battery power pack systems to successfully power Kawaii and island on Hawaii using solar energy and battery storage systems. Tesla is also installing systems in South Australia to sort out their power troubles and more Tesla power packs are set to be installed in New South Wales as well. These solutions are all based on lithium-ion technology, and these underlying technologies are improving drastically with time in terms of the charging speed along with the long-term cycle of the battery life. The same is true for energy density in addition on a utility scale; battery technology does have the distinct advantage of a rapid install time and a rapid response time to energy fluctuation needs. But there are still some questions when it comes to the application of utility energy storage, namely the long-term cost and the real long-term battery cycle life.
With technological advancements, we will be seeing other energy storing methods sooner that involve the storage and release of energy using mountains as natural pressure vessels. This method is achieved by the company, Alacaes, promises relatively low cost and high efficiency. In a nutshell, energy storage solutions, Alacaes is planning to do an attempt to smooth out the fluctuations in electricity production due to the nature of renewable energy. The excess energy used from the system from the grid to pump pressurized air into a cavity within the mountain and the air is then cooled down using a technology, thermal energy storage and then stored within the pressure cavity. When it’s time to generate electricity this air is then heated up again and pushed out to run a turbine that produces electricity. Alacaes, the company claim over 72% round-trip efficiency with this system.
Although geology has to be taken into account the markets that would be suited for this technology include the continent of Europe, America, Canada but especially India and China. For those last two markets, looking at recent trends it is not hard to see why they would be a fit. These two countries have had very aggressive goals and providing renewable energy to help run their country’s infrastructure. By 2027, India is aiming for 60% of its energy to be provided by sources outside of fossil fuels meanwhile in China, they have decreased their coal usage by five percent year-over-year and have just overtaken the U.S. as a leader in renewable energy and with populations of about 1.3 billion a piece, a huge market for electricity storage solutions for renewable energy.
Why Mountains matter for energy: we need a container basically to store a pressure right there. We probably know mountains have the potential that sustainable energy production through solar, wind power considerably, which will be going to benefit the remote mountain communities as well as downstream stream cities. However, for a small container it is reasonably cheap and easy to do but with a large container having hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of air, it is unable to make a sealed container to holds that, so basically that is why they want to exploit the geology and weight of the mountains or the weight of the earth to contain this air.
In 2016, the company completed their first power plant located in the Swiss Alps, the plant is in the shape of a 120 meter long and five-meter diameter tunnel with an energy capacity of a 1-megawatt hour. The Swiss Federal office of energy finance 40% of the cost plan as they could see the benefits of the country from this kind of technology. Economically, mechanically storage that uses compressed air is still cheaper than batteries. The tools and machinery have been there for long and right now the technology is of a factor of 4-6 times less than batteries on a per kilowatt-hour scale. However, the falling cost of batteries is at risk and the company would be keeping an eye on that. Under sustainability part there is a couple of interesting studies that look how much energy can be stored in storage device compared to how much energy was used to create that storage device so now for battery system, about 10 times the amount of energy that is used to make the battery during the whole lifetime of it can be stored and with compressed air, it is 260 times. The two plants are already been running, one in Germany and the other in the U.S., both use salt caverns underground, basically, dig underground forming soil formation compressing the air. It has goals with the carbon dioxide reduction efficiency and so on. At a time there were not machines to store the heat or the heat that is produced during compression hence they were to cool down to protect the machine. But with the availability of tool machinery that can be used to compress air at the same time and also reduce the heat that is being created. The one component inside the cavern, the thermal storage which stores all the heat and gives it back to the air, when it is going to expand and this way there is no need of the gas burning anymore. Thus there are no carbon dioxide emissions and much higher efficiencies at lower cost. A cost of about 100 million to 200 million US dollars for about 200-500 megawatt-hours output but the larger the project, more it makes sense and becomes more value for money. This kind of technology isn’t really something that a small start-up or a set of consultants can tackle. Alacaes, is targeting big institutions as partners for new projects.