With the rise of green energy sources, the need for industrial-scale energy storage has become more vital. According the New York Times, technicians around the world have turned to a host of physical forces and states such as temperature, friction, gravity and inertia to keep energy locked up for later release.
Germany, for example, hollowed out ancient, underground salt deposits to create two caverns where it compresses and stores air. When electricity demand surges, a motor pushes the air to the surface and into a combustion system that burns natural gas that spins a turbine to produce electricity.
One plant in Great Britain generates electricity through pumped hydraulic power. The Dinorwig Power Stationin Wales uses one lake at the summit of Elidir Mountain in North Wales and another lake at the bottom of the mountain. Using off-peak electricity, water is pumped from the bottom lake to the top lake. Then, when grid power is needed, the upper lake opens, sending water down through turbines to make electricity.
Out in the desert of Tonopah, Nev., about 200 miles northwest of Las Vegas, an enormous spiral of mirrors surrounds a concrete tower roughly 55 stories tall. It is the world’s first utility-scale concentrating solar power plant that uses extremely hot salt to extend the use of solar energy way past sundown. It produces enough electricity for 75,000 homes for as long as 10 hours past sundown. (Source: New York Times)
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