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Renewables – Undersea Energy Storage 1

Alternative Solutions to intermittent renewable power are in the offing. Here is one potential solution. See the link below for a non-technical description.

http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/onepercent/2011/08/green-machine-storing-wind-pow.html

Due to its higher capacity factor and proximity to densely populated areas, offshore wind power with integrated energy storage could satisfy > 20% of U.S. electricity demand. Similar results could also be obtained in many parts of the world. The offshore environment can be used for unobtrusive, safe, and economical utility-scale energy storage by taking advantage of the hydrostatic pressure at ocean depths to store energy by pumping water out of concrete spheres and later allowing it to flow back in through a turbine to generate electricity. The storage spheres are an ideal complement to energy harvesting machines, such as floating wind turbines (FWTs). The system could provide near-base-load-quality utility-scale renewable energy and do double duty as the anchoring point for the generation platforms. Analysis indicates that storage can be economically feasible at depths as shallow as 200 m, with cost per megawatt hour of storage dropping until 1500 m before beginning to trend upward. The sweet spot occurs when the concrete wall thickness to withstand the hydrostatic pressure provides enough ballast mass, and this will depend on the strength of used concrete and reinforcement. In addition, the required concrete would use significant amounts of fly ash from coal-fired power plants, and the spheres can serve as artificial reefs.
Proceedings of the IEEE (Volume:101, Issue: 4, April 2013)
Authors: Slocum AH et al.

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5 Comments

  1. Anna Korula says:

    Certainly sounds more viable than all the shale gas exploration, and attendant side-effects on communities which have not yet received sufficient attention. Is anyone trying to get this information to key policy makers? Hope so.

    • aviottjohn says:

      The current energy system, despite all criticisms, has evolved over the past 150 years, and represents enormous cumulative investments in infrastructure; not easily replaced. The energy industry, especially oil companies, also have a tremendous storehouse of technological expertise that the renewables industry has yet to gain. Additionally, there are other interesting, but as yet unproven, storage technologies being developed… of these more in the next week or two.

      • Anna Korula says:

        Maybe so, but the ca. one million shale gas exploitation wells in the USA alone, with no thought of short or long term environmental and health issues ought not to be criticized just because of the level of investment and length of development? The heavy and wasteful use of energy in the developed world in particular is what ought to be targeted as well as the motivating power and greed of the energy giants, who rampage and ravage across the globe, with far less investment in far less harmful alternatives, which need to take over more rapidly…

        Think too of all the overproduction of food–wasted daily in millions of tons by supermarkets alone, enabled by the easy availability of energy…

  2. aviottjohn says:

    Perhaps. But concentrating on solutions rather than problems might be a quicker way to go. Hence, a few more potential storage solutions in the next blog post.

    • Anna Korula says:

      The solutions are not being sought as robustly, due to all the huge investments (which you pointed out earlier) in the ‘wrong’ technologies, power, greed etc. …I rest my case

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