Technology - 29/April/2019

Crushed hot rocks to store wind energy

The bulk storage of electricity as a flexibility tool will become economically viable with the growing availability of large volumes of low-cost renewable energy. Crushed hot rocks could provide a cheap storage solution

One big pot, five tonnes of crushed rocks and a giant hairdryer may sound like ingredients from a fairy tale, but a Danish energy company believes they could be a solution for storing electricity as heat when supplies of wind energy are in excess of immediate needs. As its pilot project comes to an end, SEAS-NVE says it is ready to scale-up operations

Flexibility: Balancing the ups and downs of supply and demand in a power system with a high proportion of variable input from renewable energy will require flexible management of both, helped by digitally enabled electricity trade and injections of stored power as required

Latest solution: Denmark is exploring the idea of storing energy from wind power by using it to heat packed layers of crushed rocks

Advantages: Relatively cheap, uses readily available materials, low maintenance costs, durability, ability to provide electricity and heat

Disadvantages: Needs a fair bit of space and the conversion to heat and back to electricity does not make for an efficient process

Key quote: “Stone storage technology represents coupling between the power sector and the heating sector, which is a gigantic advantage if we are to be 100% renewable” ...

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