As renewable energy grows across the globe, we have to make the decision of what natural resources to exploit. Hydro plants can’t work without rivers, solar panels are limited in cloudy regions. But a new method attempts to use one of the most powerful and constant forces on the planet for energy—gravity.
Energy Vault, a company based out of California and Nevada, had just announced its first two clients based on for its gravity-centric energy storage solution—the Indian power giant Tata and the Mexican building materials company CEMEX.
The company says that its gravity towers are based on hydroelectricity, but without the need for water. Instead, they use “custom-made concrete bricks” that the company says will not degrade over time. These bricks are lifted when there’s excess energy to go around, then are given a controlled drop when more energy needs to be generated. Energy Vault claims its system can deliver a capacity between 10 and 35MWh, and that Tata has ordered a system delivering a full 35. This, obviously, does not generate power, but rather serves as a way to store it indefinitely. Lift the bricks when there is excess power, then lower them to regenerate it when need be.
Energy Vault claims the round trips of a given brick are 90 percent efficient when it comes to power use. Even better, gravity towers could be placed virtually anywhere there’s land and open sky.
“The world needs rapidly scalable and sustainable energy storage solutions to meet one of the most urgent challenges – the need to decarbonize our energy generation – and we’re thrilled to launch Energy Vault’s unique technology to help solve this problem,” says Robert Piconi, Energy Vault’s CEO and co-founder, in the press release.
The towers plan to be up and running—and falling—in 2019.
Originally posted on Popular Mechanics