Storage for renewable energy

One of the criticisms always levelled at renewable energy is that it’s intermittent. Or in layman’s terms, unreliable.
In recent years, that failing has become less acute thanks to all sorts of batteries, but to supply the kind of energy the modern world needs, the capacity of batteries has to become bigger, much bigger.

The link below leads to an article that describes an energy storage system being developed by MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology]. The system uses a variation of hydro power…under the sea:

The idea is that you’d build humungous hollow concrete balls and place them on the ocean floor. When wind farms floating on the surface produced energy, the excess energy – i.e. the energy not immediately needed by the grid – would be used to pump seawater out of the balls. Then, when the wind farms stopped producing energy, water would be allowed back into the balls via generators. That water would turn the turbines which would produce electricity until the balls filled with water again.

The bigger the ball, the better. 😉 Ahem…

I love the simplicity of the MIT concept. My Dad was a mechanical engineer and I loved watching his prototypes working simply because the laws of physics or whatever made it so. Think gravity, or water always flowing downhill etc. As a result, I absolutely love the idea of this underwater hydro system. Nevertheless, achieving such apparent simplicity would not be cheap. As the article says, there is no ship currently powerful enough to tow even one ball from the land to its resting place on the ocean floor. The problem is not insurmountable, but the startup costs would be substantial.

I’m really looking forward to the next ten years when so many of today’s wild ideas become reality. I hope this is one of them.

cheers,
Meeks

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

14 responses to “Storage for renewable energy

  • Widdershins

    We’ll each need to look to our energy needs from a personal perspective, because the larger-scale infrastructure just isn’t going to be there to support a ‘one-size-fits-all delivery system. Hell, it’s not even there now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Totally agree, Widds. I spent my inheritance on fire protection and solar panels. Sadly I didn’t get enough solar panels but hindsight is always better, right? I’m hoping for some form of small scale distributed networks to become cheap enough. I’m thinking one for each neighbourhood, with everyone in the network contributing to the energy and drawing from it at need. Of course all that assumes some kind of highly efficient energy storage system.
      I figure by the time I’m 90 it’ll be up and running. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Audrey Driscoll

    Despite our cleverness, I agree with those who say there are too many of us and we want/need too much. But I suppose it’s worthwhile to explore all kinds of options..

    Liked by 3 people

  • Jacqui Murray

    I haven’t read the article but am curious about the affect on the ocean ecosystem. I’m already mad at windmills for the birds they kill and all the noise polution!

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      Yeah, damage to the ecosystem is the elephant in the room. It seems that no matter how hard we try to do the right thing, there is always a negative side to our endeavours. I tell myself that it’s a sliding scale of damage – our rubbish probably does more damage to the ocean ecosystems than even massive oil spills. Then there’s runoff from our intensive agriculture, over-fishing and the global effects of our convenience first life-styles.
      We have to start fixing the godawful mess we’ve made but working out which thread to pull first is almost impossible. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jacqui Murray

        Good allusion–which thread to pull first. I hate the damage caused by plastic which includes the ever-popular plastic doggie poop bags so I’ve trained my dog to go in ‘appropriate’ locations. I almost never buy water bottles, just keep refilling. My protest of one against plastic!

        Liked by 2 people

        • acflory

          Go you! Before this damn pandemic, we’d all gotten used to taking our own bags to the supermarket, and I’d stopped putting fruit into individual baggies years before. Now, getting stuff delivered, I cringe at all the plastic waste.
          If every person on this planet made the same protest we could halve the crap we dump into the oceans. 😦

          Liked by 2 people

    • CarolCooks2

      I agree maybe China’s idea although maybe not the extremes of limiting family size has some traction?

      Liked by 1 person

      • acflory

        ZPG – zero population growth – has been around for a long time, and in a strange piece of irony, the richest countries have been doing it for years. Somehow, once people become prosperous enough, we no longer want a dozen kids. In theory, if we could bring up the standard of living of everyone in the world today, we could reduce our numbers within a few generations. The trouble is, third world countries need energy to become as prosperous as us, but they can no longer use the same path to prosperity. We screwed that path up for everyone. I guess this is why I’m so fervent about renewables. They hold a promise for the rest of the world, and ultimately back to us.

        Liked by 2 people

    • CarolCooks2

      I agree with you Jaquie wholeheartedly we see it time and time again that ideas are implemented with no thought of the environmental impacts or the impact on humans it just goes full steam ahead….

      Liked by 2 people

  • CarolCooks2

    It seems there are a few of these ideas floating about.-pun- not intended.
    https://newatlas.com/energy/ocean-battery-renewable-energy-storage/
    My concern is the environmental impact they could have …

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Yes, you and Jacqui both named the elephant in the room. To be honest it seems as if whatever we do or don’t do will have terrible consequences. 9 billion humans are a blight on the face of the earth. :/

      Liked by 1 person

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