Renewable energy technology is growing and improving in almost every category. Land based wind energy at least in the U.S. is now the cheapest source for electricity. Solar PV is improving it seems like everyday and the costs keep dropping.
Wave energy technolgy being tested in the lab
Offshore wind and even wave energy is starting to be more popular. Wave energy however, is a long way from commercialization.
Offshore wind farm Middelgrunden
The same can be said for biofuels and fuelcells. Alternative energy technology, even though it is a relatively young field is maturing rapidly.
In order for the maximum benefit of all of these technologies to be realized, we need to be able to store the produced clean energy. For utility scale wind and solar pv generated electricity we have to have a cost effective way to store the power at the grid level.
Solar thermal energy collectors Sunvapor
Solar thermal technology given the nature of it, allows for heat energy to be stored as heat for long periods of time. When needed this heat energy is converted into electricity to the grid. Alternative fuels also inherently are able to store their energy. Liquid or gaseous fuels are easily stored much in the same way as we do today.
One interesting idea for storing energy is to store it as compressed or liquefied gas. This video is of Highview’s new Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) project. The video animation shows how the LAES process works. It also shows the key benefits, scale up to a GigaPlant and the applications it can work with.
Storing energy as liquified gas
Does Storing Clean Energy in This way Make Sense?
It is true, that to store electricity as energy in this process you must first convert it to potential energy stored in the liquefied gas. Then you need to convert it back when needed. Conversion back and forth always causes a lose or inefficiency of some kind. However at the utility scale could it be used to store vast amounts of grid energy?
Well, what do you think?
About Gordon Smith Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.