A Concrete “Battery” could be energy storage of future. Energy Vault, a Swiss startup, has created a way to store electricity in concrete blocks that is really a great innovation. The innovation in Energy Vault’s plant is not the hardware. Cranes and motors have been around for decades, and companies like ABB and Siemens have optimized them for maximum efficiency.
A tower of the concrete blocks, weighing 35 metric tons each can store a maximum of 20 megawatt-hours (MWh), which Energy Vault says is enough to power 2,000 Swiss homes for an entire day. According to Quartz, the Swiss startup is planning to build their first commercial plants starting early 2019.
Almost 96% of the world’s energy-storage capacity comes in the form of one technology: pumped hydro. Whenever generation exceeds demand, the excess electricity is used to pump water up a dam. When demand exceeds generation, that water is allowed to fall - thanks to gravity and the potential energy turns turbines to produce electricity.
Energy Vault’s idea is similar to hydroelectric power, but instead of using water and dams, it uses concrete blocks and cranes. The science underlying Energy Vault’s technology is simple. When you lift something against gravity, you store energy in it. When you later let it fall, you can retrieve that energy. Because concrete is a lot denser than water, lifting a block of concrete requires—and can, therefore, store—a lot more energy than an equal-sized tank of water.
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