With renewable energy increasingly being located at sea, its worth asking what offshore energy storage systems could be used alongside the wind farms and tidal and wave arrays. Photo credit: MIT
The renewable energy storage concept announced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) earlier this year is quite literally a load of balls. Aimed at storing excess power from offshore wind farms, says MIT: “The key to this concept is the placement of huge concrete spheres on the seafloor under the turbines.
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Working with the energy company Hydrostor, a team at the University of Windsor, Ontario, has been testing a unique CAES system that stores compressed 50 – 500 meters below the water’s surface in high-strength polyester bags when power supply outstrips demand.
When the grid demand increases, the weight of the water itself pushes the air back to the surface where it is then run through Hydrostor’s expander/generator system to generate the required electricity.
The team has already tested scale models of their system in the university’s swimming pool, plus a full-sized system in Lake Ontario. It is hoped that a commercial system could be online by the latter part of 2013.