One criticism of renewable energy systems is that they do not function on demand. You need the sun to shine, the wind to blow, or another natural system to kick into effect. This means that energy will be created when it isn’t needed.
The solution is to take that surplus energy and convert into a storage system that can be turned on when it is demanded. In Toronto, there is presently a pilot project by Hydrostor that is converting that stored energy into compressed air. The air stays compressed thanks to the giant lake that sits on top of the balloon holding the air.
“Most of the world is saying we have to get off fossil fuels,” he said. “To do that, you need lots of energy storage.”
In the same way an everyday battery banks energy using chemicals, Hydrostor relies on compressed, bottled air. And because it produces zero emissions, the system can help Toronto adjust to a healthier low-carbon diet.
It works by stockpiling surplus energy generated during off-peak periods and converting it into compressed air. This air is then sent underwater, stored in balloons and saved, literally in some cases, for a rainy day.
Nissan has built a car that can charge on the road then use the excess charge it holds to power a home. This car can then be used to power a home in the case of a blackout or an emergency.
The system works by linking the car via a quick charging port to the house’s electricity distribution panel. Power can also be fed the other way if the house generates its own electricity with rooftop solar panels.
The Leaf batteries have a capacity of 24 kilowatt hours when fully charged, equivalent to the electricity used by the average Japanese household in two days, said the company.
The output from the vehicle comes to six kilowatts, enough to power electricity-guzzling appliances such as a refrigerator, air conditioner and washing machine at the same time, the company said.
A printer company has developed a prototype battery powered from quick vibrations that can power low-intestity electronics like remote controls. This is a good development in battery technology because it shows what’s possible and may entice companies to start selling batteries that are powered by a simple shake.
The idea behind the technology is to remove the need for toxic rechargeable batteries and other disposable batteries that can harm the environment, said the company.
So far, two of the AA sized prototypes developed produce a voltage of 3.2V or lower, which is just enough to charge low power consumption device such as TV remote controls.
Despite the low power, Carl Telford an analyst at electronics business consultants Strategic Business Insights, says the batteries are a significant break through with much potential.
“It’s great because they will work OK in a low-power application for AA batteries that one can shake without breaking; a remote control, for example,” he told BBC News.
“Of its size, it is small, compact, and directly compatible with existing power sources. Brother says that it can produce enough power at reasonably low frequencies, around 4-8Hz – this is impressive.
A small company has produced a boot that creates energy by walking. The boot has a battery that stores an electric charge from the energy spent by walking.
The ‘Power Wellies’, as Orange is calling them, convert heat from your feet into an electrical current. According to the blurb, twelve hours of stomping through the Glastonbury Festival will give you enough power to charge a mobile phone for one hour – the hotter your feet get, the more energy you produce.
In case you’re wandering what the science behind them is… Inside the power generating sole there are thermoelectric modules constructed of pairs of p-type and n-type semiconductor materials forming a thermocouple. These thermocouples are connected electrically forming an array of multiple thermocouples (thermopile). They are then sandwiched between two thin ceramic wafers. When the heat from the foot is applied on the top side of the ceramic wafer and cold is applied on the opposite side, from the cold of the ground, electricity is generated. Simples.
It’s true everything is bigger in Texas from trucks to people to batteries. A relatively small town in Texas is using a battery the size of a house for energy storage and transmission. It’s hoped that batteries like the Texas one can be used to store energy from more sustainable sources during high production periods for use later (capture solar during the day and store it for night).
BOB, short for “Big-Old Battery,” began charging up this week. The giant sodium sulfur powerhouse, which is literally the size of a house, can store four megawatts of power for up to eight hours. Before BOB came online, a single, 60-year-old transmission line was the only thing connecting Presidio to the grid. The town frequently experienced power outages. BOB serves as a much-needed back-up plan, and it holds enough power to generate electricity for the whole town.