Energy storage is an important factor when it comes to renewable energy sources. With solar energy, power is produced only while the sun is up and the solar panels are absorbing the rays. This energy needs a place to be stored for night time use.
One of the most abundant elements on earth is being used to create an energy storage system that can heat homes as well as store electricity.
South Australian company 1414 Degrees has developed technology to store electricity as thermal energy by heating and melting containers full of silicon at a cost estimated to be up to 10 times cheaper than lithium batteries.
Silicon is the second most abundant element in the earth’s crust after oxygen.
A ton of silicon can store enough energy to power 28 houses for a day.
Its high latent heat capacity and high melting temperature of 1414 C – make it ideal for the storage of large amounts of energy.
The process also generates large amounts of clean useable heat, which can easily be utilized for district heating or industrial purposes.
1414 Degrees has created a full prototype ready for commercialization in Adelaide, South Australia, of its patented thermal energy storage system (TESS).
The company completed its first trials in September with a small prototype test system using about 300kg of silicon to store about 150 kW of energy.
It is now scaling up its technology to grid-scale thermal energy storage systems with potential to dramatically improve the efficiency of wind and solar farms and will launch the first commercial machines this year.
1414 Degrees Chairman Dr. Kevin Moriarty said the company was waiting for AusIndustry, a division of the Federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, to sign-off on the 10-MWh project in February so manufacture could begin.
He said the company has two target markets: a device capable of storing 10 MWh of energy is targeted at industry, while the second 200-MWh device was suitable for a wind farm, large solar array or gas-fired power station.
As well as its ability to stabilize South Australia’s electricity supply, which relies heavily on wind power, the system is likely to appeal to northern European countries because of its ability to store the wind energy of a cold Scandinavian night while keeping residents warm and running their computers the next day.
Australian CleanTech Managing Director John O’Brien said energy storage would undoubtedly be a very significant part of the energy system as nations moved towards low- or zero-carbon targets in the next decade or two.
He said the relatively cheap price of silicon and its ability to be used over and over would help keep the overall lifecycle price down.
“The main alternative at the moment is large-scale lithium batteries — there’s plenty of lithium around as well and there’s some very large companies with massive factories producing lithium batteries,” O’Brien said.
“But if they can scale up what they are doing with silicon then that certainly has potential.
“Clearly the sun doesn’t shine at night and the wind doesn’t blow all of the time so we have to think a bit more carefully about how we manage it.”
This article was originally published by The Lead under a Creative Commons license and was edited for style and content. Read the original article here.
The storage of power is half the battle with clean energy sources. Advancements in energy storage will greatly help the push towards green energy.
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