Monday, May 21, 2007

Thermal storage for wind power

Engineer-Poet found this several months ahead of me, not to mention ZDnet, but I must say the Night Wind project is an interesting proposal for storing energy. The idea is not really new, but the scale of the project is significant.

The short version is that a group in the Netherlands is planning to over-chill freezers at night when the wind is blowing and turning off the freezers during the day at peak demand times. Basically they use ice to store wind energy, and “deploy” it in a predictable fashion. I haven’t done the math but they claim to be able to store 50,000MW of energy this way.

Clearly one can also store energy as heat…limited only by the size of the thermos (and its rate of energy loss).

Many people are concerned that intermittent sources of energy like wind and (from our perspective at least) solar can’t contribute to the grid because they don’t offset baseline power. Not that we will have to worry about this for another 6-8 years, but as we build intermittent capacity we can develop storage solutions.


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