A novel energy storage solution featuring pipes and anchors

Posted: June 23, 2021 by oldbrew in Energy, innovation
Tags: ,

Image credit: buoyant-energy.com

That’s the headline, but is ‘novel’ its only merit? Buoyant Energy is described as promising but then, aren’t they all? Energy storage on a meaningful scale seems as far away as ever, having rejected the obvious ones: coal, oil, gas and sometimes even nuclear.
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What do pipes and anchors have to do with storing energy? More than you might think, suggests TechXplore.

A new IIASA-led study explored the potential of a lesser known, but promising sustainable energy storage system called Buoyancy Energy Storage.

There is general consensus that renewable energy sources will play an important role in ensuring a healthier and more sustainable future for the planet and its people, and many countries are indeed already seeing such technologies displacing “dirty” fossil fuels in the power sector in an effort to lower emissions. [Talkshop comment – CO2 emissions have absolutely nothing to do with dirt].

The biggest problem with renewable energy sources, however, is that power supply is intermittent, meaning that the energy output at any given time does not necessarily meet the demand at that time.

With solar power generation for instance, electricity generation peaks during the day when electricity demand is low, resulting in times of energy excess alternating with times of energy shortage.

The balance between energy supply and demand is a prerequisite for any stable energy system. In the case of intermittent renewable energy supply, reliable and efficient ways to store energy will be crucial to ensure the successful adoption of these technologies.

In their latest paper published in the journal Energy Storage, IIASA researcher Julian Hunt and colleagues explored one of the lesser known, but promising sustainable energy storage systems, namely Buoyancy Energy Storage Technology.

Continued here.

University of Innsbruck: Buoyant Energy at a glance [pdf]

  1. tom0mason says:

    The full PDF is available HERE

  2. ivan says:

    Oh, what a lovely pie in the sky idea for separating the tax payer from their money. It will use more money than it can produce electricity and will do so until it collapses on the ocean floor.

    I assume we will see more of these stupid ideas appear in the future as the time for the latest glorious climate romp approaches in Scotland later this year and I expect that Princess Nut Nut will go into paroxysms of joy at the high cost of it and encourage BoJo to embrace it with vigour. /sarc

  3. oldbrew says:

    They think they can smell the subsidies, in Germany at least…

    The present European policies (EEG, etc.) are not providing sufficient incentives for such technology innovation. In the course of the amendment of Germanys “Renewable Energies Law” (EEG, 2011) some approaches to change the situation were discussed. The implementation of suitable policies for the integration of storage technologies into the market within the European Union can therefore be expected in the near future.

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    They’re also talking up underwater compression of hydrogen — see main article in the blog post. But all these ideas smack of desperation, being mostly over-complex and expensive pinpricks (if they work at all) in the problems they’ve created by turning away from on-demand fuel burning.

  4. Graeme No.3 says:

    What is the difference between this and other pumped air storage** other than the increased cost of the storage ‘tank’?
    Pumped air storage, even with heat recovery, has never been an economic success.

    **No, I haven’t bothered reading this quest for subsidies.

    O/T? Here in South Australia we have had a couple of schemes proposed to use abandoned and flooded gold mines for a similar process. The compressed air is pumped down to a storage tank at the bottom of the water. In doing so it is cooled down allowing more storage. Reversing the flow warms the air as it expands. I don’t know of any progress with these schemes beyond media articles of the uncritical type (rhymes with hype).

  5. Curious George says:

    This is a “pumped hydro” with a twist. Instead of filling a tank with water, they are sinking a ship (water rushing in drives a turbine) and then pump water out again. They’ll need a REALLY big ship.

  6. oldbrew says:

    reliable and efficient ways to store energy will be crucial to ensure the successful adoption of these technologies

    Still waiting for those ways. Add ‘grid-scale’ to the adjective list.

  7. MrGrimNasty says:

    I don’t even need to get my calculator out (having looked at similar crackpot ideas before) to know that to scale it up to be remotely useful grid scale will be impossible.

  8. JB says:

    “BEST systems have the potential to become the backbone ”

    Code words for “We have not built a full-sized working model. We’re seeking investment suckers.”

    Notice that no consideration was given to the ocean’s geography and other environmental caveats, such as plumes, currents, fauna (or whatever the techy name is for deep sea fish), or mantle dynamics.

    This is not really new, either. Just a variation on basic ideas conceived at least a half century ago.

  9. Julian Hunt says:

    To be honest, while writing the paper, I had in mind that the BEST system will never be competitive with batteries for energy storage. But as a component of an deep underwater hydropower pipeline, it showed several benefits when comparing with liquid hydrogen tankers. Maily efficiency (90% efficient isothermal compression) and costs (the pressure inside and outside of the pipeline are the same. A thin HDPE pipeline will do). The sand in the pipeline is required to reduce the flotability of the pipeline and allow if to partialy float underwater.

  10. oldbrew says:

    JH – Maybe TechXplore could have been clearer about the likely applications.