Over the past few years we have been witnessing incredible developments in the world of renewable energy generation. Unfortunately, while new solar cells, wind turbine designs, and biofuel-producing technologies keep bombarding us, the same cannot be said about energy storage.
Since improvements in battery technologies seem to be emerging very slowly, any new alternative invention or development in the field of energy storage is welcome, regardless of how crazy or strange it might appear to be. One such technology is compressed-air energy storage (CAES), a method that has been known for hundreds of years, yet still explored by very limited few companies, who try to implement it on land.
A recent report published in IEEE Spectrum, hints that as early as in August, the Canadian start-up Hydrostor, will introduce the first ever commercially available CAES, which will operate underwater and store excess wind energy. Giant energy bags that resemble balloons, will be fixed to the bottom of Lake Ontario and will be filled with compressed air, using the excess electricity, and whenever needed, the air will be converted back to power through a huge turboexpander.
The predictions seem very promising. According to the CEO of Thin Red Line Aerospace, the makers of the energy bags, only 23 of these forty-one-meter in diameter balloons would be sufficient to store the incredible amount of 812,000 cubic meters of compressed air, generated daily by the biggest offshore wind farm, London Array.
Currently, Thin Red Line Aerospace is making energy bags of a relatively modest size- only five meters in diameter, however they do have the capacity to go big on this one. It does sound quite futuristic, and it might not be the best solution, but it is a solution. Underwater CAES should not be neglected, especially since the world’s leaders in wind energy production release more and more plans for construction of new wind farms.
Increase in energy production, means increase in demand for energy storage. The last thing we want is to have the technology to generate electricity from renewables, and then let it all go to waste.
Image (c) Thin Red Line Aerospace