A new solution to versatile, durable renewable energy storage.
The common problem with the production of energy from renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, has been the need for it to be stored for later as it is produced intermittently. Current methods of energy storage are batteries and hydroelectricity. These methods have proven to be problematic with the need to replace batteries often and hydroelectricity not being very versatile.
A new solution to these issues has been developed by the Swiss company Energy Vault. The technology works by moving concrete bricks in response to energy production and demand much like the way hydrotechnology works. When power is in abundance (sunny days for solar / blustery days with wind) the hydro plant will use the electricity to move the water up to a higher elevation. When power is in great need / scarce (overnight for solar / calm, no wind days for wind power) it drops the water down through a hydroelectric turbine to harvest the energy.
In much the same way as hydroelectriclty, Energy Vault's technology stacks 35 tonne bricks when power is in abundance and releasing them to generate the energy. It has none of the environmental impacts of hydroelectricty and doesn't need specific topography. According to Energy Vault the system delivers base load power cheaper than fossil fuels. They announced they are making the technology commercially available in November and have begun a partnership with Indian company, Tata Power to build its first plant in 2019.
This new system, Energy Vault says, is more efficient and cost-effective, with 50% savings or more compared to existing methods. The plant it's self has a life span of 30+ years and the blocks are made from waste concrete. There is also no issue with degradation, such as chemical storage solutions have which then need more batteries being manufactured.
Agreements have already been formed with new customers all over the world and is working with CEMEX Research Group AG to rapidly develop and deploy the technology.
Watch this 3D representation of the technology: