Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica
Scientists from all across the European Union are working on what could be the next large-scale energy storage option to combine with variable renewable energy technologies to increase their efficiency -- air.

Clean Power

EU Scientists Propose Air As World’s Next Big Energy Storage Option

Scientists from all across the European Union are working on what could be the next large-scale energy storage option to combine with variable renewable energy technologies to increase their efficiency — air.

Scientists from all across the European Union are working on what could be the next large-scale energy storage option to combine with variable renewable energy technologies to increase their efficiency — air.

According to researchers from SINTEF, Norway’s largest independent research organisation, storing compressed air in sealed tunnels and mines as an alternative to the more cheaper, though regionally restrictive method of pumped hydropower energy storage. Compressed air storage is in no way a “new” concept, but scientists from all over Europe, working under the auspices of the RICAS 2020 research project, are investigating the possibility of storing large amounts of compressed air in disused caverns and tunnels as large-scale storage sites.

The existing premise is already in use in some areas of the world, and essentially uses surplus electric power to compress air, which is stored underground, only to be released through a gas turbine that generates electricity when needed. Such energy storage plants help meet peak electricity demand.

“The more of the heat of compression that the air has retained when it is released from the store, the more work it can perform as it passes through the gas turbine,” said Giovanni Perillo, project manager for SINTEF’s contribution to RICAS 2020. “And we think that we will be able to conserve more of that heat than current storage technology can, thus increasing the net efficiency of the storage facilities.”

Currently, one of the problems with this technology — as experienced at two of the largest compressed air stores in the world, in Germany and the US — is the loss of potential energy through the compression stage, as there is no means to store the heat produced. This contributes to the fact that existing sites lose around 45 to 55% of the produced energy during the compression process. Participants in the RICAS 2020 project have developed a means to minimize heat energy losses in future underground storage caverns — essentially adding an additional station in the final solution:

  • On its way down to the underground cavern, the hot compressed air passes through a separate cavern filled with crushed rock.
  • The hot air heats up the rock, which retains a large proportion of the heat.
  • The cold air is stored in the main cavern
  • When the air subsequently returns through the crushed rock on its way to be used to generate electricity, the flow of air is reheated by the stones.
  • Hot air is then expanded through the turbine generating electricity

Energy storage technologies such as pumped hydropower and compressed air are significantly cheaper than battery storage, and the new SINTEF-developed solution could raise the efficiency of the system by as much as 70 to 80%.

“The project is based on the belief that our solution will offer better energy storage than batteries can ever provide, thanks to its longer lifetime and lower capital cost per kWh of stored energy,” added Perillo. “We also expect that it can be employed virtually irrespective of the type of geological formation available.”


Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 
 
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Written By

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.

Comments

#1 most loved electric vehicle, solar energy, and battery news & analysis site in the world.

 

Support our work today!

Advertisement

Power CleanTechnica: $3/Month

Tesla News Solar News EV News Data Reports

Advertisement

EV Sales Charts, Graphs, & Stats

Advertisement

Our Electric Car Driver Report

30 Electric Car Benefits

Tesla Model 3 Video

Renewable Energy 101 In Depth

solar power facts

Tesla News

EV Reviews

Home Efficiency

You May Also Like

Cars

The “Auto Shanghai 2021” auto show season is here from the 19th to the 28th of April, which means brands are showing off new...

Clean Transport

Originally published on Transport & Environment. By Eoin Bannon This press release is available in English, Italian, and Polish. Truck makers and environmentalists have joined forces...

Cars

Uber wants to electrify quicker than the rest of the market, and Europe is electrifying pretty darn fast. So, Uber’s got to get moving....

Air Quality

Originally published on Transport & Environment. By Eoin Bannon Almost two-thirds of urban residents support banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.