Storing Renewable Energy

Posted by Chuck Harrell on Jan 18, 2016 11:00:00 AM

renewable_energy.jpgOne of the problems with electricity is that it's really difficult to store.  Batteries leak, are slow to charge up, and are fantastically bulky and expensive for large amounts of power which is also the problem with renewable energy. When the wind blow and sun shines, electricity is generated but it can't be stored for use when it's calm or dark.  It also can't be stores for future use when there is exceptionally strong winds.  Subsequently, many of the benefits of these environmentally power sources are derided.

But now, there's a solution to this problem.  Canadian startup Hydrostor has developed a system of pressurized underwater balloons to store the renewable energy.  I don't pretend to understand how this works, so fortunately there is a nice little cartoon which does all the work for me.  But in essence, it uses compressed air to store energy and then as demand rises and falls, so too does the pressure in the balloons, the same variety as those used to raise sunken ships, as shown here.  

As Hydrostor CEO, Curtis VanWelleghem told Canadian Manufacturing, "Compressed air has been around for 40 years, it's finding places to store the air that's been the problem and why it hasn't been massively adopted.  We open it up to thousands more sites because we use hydrostatic water pressure."

At present, the trial on Lake Ontario stores enough energy to power 300 homes, but the company is confident this can be easily scaled up.

On the face of  it, it seems as though this is an ideal solution, and one day, as well as seeing towering windmills in the ocean, we'll also see orange balloons bobbing in the water.

Topics: Power & Energy

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