- When renewable energy solutions decline due to a lack of wind† tideor Sunold-fashioned gravity can fill the gap to create energy.
- Using floating weights during times of energy demand, the gravity-based solution drops the weights to create energy.
- Whether it concerns modular buildings or existing ones underground shaftsinfrastructure needs for gravity-based energy projects are not a heavy burden.
Gravity never goes away – which is a powerful tool in the renewable energy world, often marred by the ebb and flow of wind, tide and sunshine. And this gravity-based energy is not a concept for the future, but it is already taking root: based in Switzerland Energy safe has several projects under construction using this technology, and Scotland’s Gravity (not just a clever name) has built a successful prototype and has plans to go commercial.
The basic concept calls for excess renewable energy to help pull a weight on a tower or shaft. That weight will stay in place until there is a decline in renewable energy production, allowing the company to slowly lower the weight and create electricity as gravity pulls it down. This electricity can help fill in the gaps left when the wind stops whipping or the sun stops shining.
These gravity-based solutions are based on the physics and mechanical foundations of: pumped hydroelectric energy storage, which uses two water reservoirs at different heights to create power as the water moves from one reservoir to the other through a turbine. But in this case you replace the water with blocks that can be made from different recycled materials.
Energy Vault already has a 20-story tower in Switzerland that uses cranes to lift 33-ton blocks. Now the company is rolling out its “EVx” system with thousands of weights on a trolley complex to create 100 megawatt hours (MWh) of power per day. Energy Vault’s EVx is on order from countries around the world, including China, which began build of the system in March. A new project in Louisiana, announced last month, will use a storage capacity of 200 MWh using the EVx system in the production of sustainable aviation fuels†
Meanwhile, Gravitricity’s first prototype included a 49-foot-tall steel tower that suspended two 22.5-ton iron weights via an electric motor before slowly falling down to create 250 kilowatts of power. “We have proven that we can control the system to extend the life of certain mechanical components, such as the lifting rope,” said Jill Macpherson, senior test and simulation engineer at Gravitricity, tells the BBC† “The system is also designed in such a way that individual components can be easily replaced rather than replacing the entire system over its lifetime. So there is real scope for a decades-long operational life.”
“Finding low-cost, long-lived ways to store renewable energy will be crucial in the journey to net zero,” said Charlie Blair, general manager at Gravisticity, in a statement. press release† He says the multi-weight concept was already proven, demonstrating the efficiency of the weight system and its ability to “scale up to full import or export capability in less than a second.”
“A multi-weight gravity system offers a lower cost per MWh of energy stored – more weights give more mass, or MWhs, while not increasing the number of lifting systems, which are a significant part of asset costs,” he says.
gravity plan now to search decommissioned coal mines around the world to use the shafts already in place to create the gravity fed force.
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