Could cement and physics hold the key to a reliable green energy future?

Applying conventional physics fundamentals, a new energy storage solution employs a huge six-arm crane that lifts massive concrete bricks to orchestrate the storage and discharge of electricity.

Renewables have struggled to more fully replace fossil fuel power due to production unpredictability and intermittency from reliance on factors such as wind and sunlight. In the absence of more efficient and cost-effective storage, the amount of electricity that can be delivered to the grid from renewable energy sources, even though now widely affordable, has been limited.

Swiss start-up Energy Vault have announced the development of breakthrough technology inspired by pumped hydro plants that rely on the power of gravity and the movement of water to store and discharge electricity. The company’s solution is based on the same well-understood fundamentals used in those plants, but replaces the water with custom made concrete bricks through an extremely innovative use of low-cost materials.

These large bricks are combined with Energy Vault’s patented system design and proprietary algorithm-based software, which calibrates the energy storage and subsequent electricity discharge while accounting for a variety of factors, including power supply, energy demand volatility, and weather. As a result, the company can deliver all the benefits of a pumped hydro system, but at a much lower price, higher roundtrip efficiency and without the requirement for specific land topography and negative environmental or wildlife impacts.

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published on February 1st on www.energyinnovation.net.au

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