How will future energy storage work? Five alternatives to grid-scale lithium-ion batteries.

There’s a lot we are dealing with in the global platform as we talk about the global cost of storage batteries and how they continue to fall. There have been many aspects to it and many changes over time that demand nothing but a little intervention. Yet when it comes to future energy storage methods, a look beyond lithium-ion batteries can open a pathway to a wealth of innovative solutions. That is partly because the current lithium-ion batteries achieve a maximum of storage that lasts for four hours. This makes it a very frustrating and tough ordeal for large-scale wind and solar power projects. This also furthermore creates a rift for baseload energy when wind and sun aren’t available.

Here is a look at the five breakthrough forms of energy storage that are being trialled by renewable energy companies looking for renewable alternatives to grid-scale energy.

  1. Compressed air in use as renewable power storage.

Many companies use electricity to compress air with water. This, in turn, generates heat which is in turn stored. The heat, further when released, forces water through a turbine generator. This converts the energy back into electricity. The energy used to compress the air is generally renewable, and this results in a system that emits no emissions, making it a suitable alternative.

  1. Liquid air storage for solar power.

If one wishes to, there are many alternatives that they can wish to choose from given the recent advancements in the field of science and the ways energy can be harvested. The power that is being talked about uses liquid air for energy storage. This form of energy is way cheaper and longer-lasting than lithium-ion batteries. Many places are now using a recent innovation to use off-peak electricity to chill air to around -196°C.

This is then followed by storing the same in metal tanks in a liquid state. It is also worth mentioning that pumping and heating turn the liquid back into gas. This releases energy to drive a turbine, and the result is creating clean electricity as and when needed. Various such initiatives are now taken to promote these healthy alternatives. Also, there are various setups by the commercial plants in many powerful countries that have already begun to take the initiative to make more amends to their power sources.

  1. Gravitational mine energy that promotes the idea of renewable energy storage.

Many well-renowned names are experimenting with gravitational energy with the smart use of mine shafts. There are reportedly companies that are hard at work on a 50-ton demonstrator.

The process in talks uses renewable energy to lift a weight within a mine shaft. The weight could even be as huge as that of 3,000 tons. The weight then falls, which in turn releases electricity that lasts as long as eight hours. The winches and cables are also estimated to have a life of around five decades. This can be a potential winner for future energy storage. As more and more efforts pour in to perfect this, there’s a possible chance of this process taking over other forms of alternatives.

  1. Future energy storage with the aid of pressurised water.

There have been many eminent power companies who have been brainstorming ideas to store energy using pressurised water. This plan in turn requires a steel-jacketed piston made of rock and concrete. The weight of this requirement may weigh up to 8.5 million tons.

The piston releases pressure that in turn unleashes the stored energy. It also drives a turbine creating electricity that lasts up to 16 hours. As the companies progress further there are possibilities of setting up a demonstration plant for this future energy storage method.

  1. Tower block gravity

Mostly the giant Swiss companies are involved in this idea of alternative power source.  They have been constantly working on a more complex version of the Gravitricity model through various modifications like the use of tower blocks.

For starters, the storage process works by stacking thousands of 38-ton blocks. This is then sent to a tower that can reach up to 160m in height. Mostly a robotic crane is administered in the process which then plucks them off the tower and lowers them to the ground. The weight of the blocks is what is used to drive the generators. Though many were sceptical, the system can deliver as much as 80 MWh of electricity. This can produce power around 60,000 homes for an impressive span of 16 hours.

Many global leaders have put in efforts to balance the intermittency of renewable energy in electric grids. This has been achieved by utility-scale batteries, mostly lithium-based. But now as time goes by there are innovations to help in adding storage all the while making renewable energy more profitable,

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