‘Sand battery’ could solve green energy’s big problem, suggests BBC

Posted: July 5, 2022 by oldbrew in Batteries, Energy, innovation
Tags: , ,

Finnish capital Helsinki in winter

They admit so-called green energy has a big problem, namely intermittency. Getting rid of reliable electricity generation from power stations creates it, but that’s what the likes of the climate-obsessed BBC constantly advocate. The sand idea may have some uses, but it’s admitted that ‘The efficiency falls dramatically when the sand is used to just return power to the electricity grid’. No, the big problem will remain.
– – –
Finnish researchers have installed the world’s first fully working “sand battery” which can store green power for months at a time, says BBC News.

The developers say this could solve the problem of year-round supply, a major issue for green energy.

Using low-grade sand, the device is charged up with heat made from cheap electricity from solar or wind.

The sand stores the heat at around 500C, which can then warm homes in winter when energy is more expensive.

Finland gets most of its gas from Russia, so the war in Ukraine has drawn the issue of green power into sharp focus.

It has the longest Russian border in the EU and Moscow has now halted gas and electricity supplies in the wake of the Finland’s decision to join NATO.

Concerns over sources of heat and light, especially with the long, cold Finnish winter on the horizon are preoccupying politicians and citizens alike.

But in a corner of small power plant in western Finland stands a new piece of technology that has the potential to ease some of these worries.

The key element in this device? Around 100 tonnes of builder’s sand, piled high inside a dull grey silo.

These rough and ready grains may well represent a simple, cost-effective way of storing power for when it’s needed most.

Because of climate change and now thanks to the rapidly rising price of fossil fuels, there’s a surge of investment in new renewable energy production.

But while new solar panels and wind turbines can be quickly added to national grids, these extra sources also presents huge challenges.

The toughest question is about intermittency – how do you keep the lights on when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow?

Adding more renewables to the electricity grid also means you need to boost other energy sources to balance the network, as too much or too little power can cause it to collapse.

The most obvious answer to these problems is large scale batteries which can store and balance energy demands as the grid becomes greener.

Full article here.
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American version: NREL Options a Modular, Cost-Effective, Build-Anywhere Particle Thermal Energy Storage Technology (2021)

  1. […] ‘Sand battery’ could solve green energy’s big problem, suggests BBC […]

  2. Goran says:

    Oslo is the capital of Norway, not of Finland

    [reply] my brain fade! – corrected, thanks

  3. oldbrew says:

    The developers say this could solve the problem of year-round supply, a major issue for green energy.

    The BBC says that. The developers are a bit more down-to-earth…

    “It’s a bit crazy, if you wish, but I think it’s going to be a success.”

  4. JB says:

    “cheap electricity from solar or wind”


    Another myth like Biodiesel

  5. Curious George says:

    What’s the specific heat capacity of sand?

  6. Saighdear says:

    Saw this article somewhere earlier today, – just after I paid some attention to that doughball german advert about our ‘Future Heat’ – could never figure out the big deal with them unitl t’othr day it’s CLAY filled heaters …… Uhuh ! Clay, eh? dried gutters to me or Nigg mud, maybe. Well now, I remember well being told aboutthe grest Heatof 76 – or was it 77 up here ( long time ago – late 70’s will do. ) when the Highland ROcks got soooh hot ( not) and all that energy stored in Megatons of the stuff, disappeared very quickly – and wasn’t that a very cold winter ? Point is: These ‘batteries ( ha ha ha )’ have to be charged and as the Heron and stork knows – if there ain’t no fish wind, there aint no power gonnae be generated. And like our Economy 7 Storage Heaters ( filled with a cemented sand + other stuff – so nothing new there ), they are next to cold within 24 hrs after a good charge. ( dunno how you fill them to overflow ) and how quickly can you draw them down to still workable lower temps ? How long does a Cast Iron Block or Steel Billet take to cool down? Sp.Heat of materials provides the answer….

  7. […] ‘Sand battery’ could solve green energy’s big problem, suggests BBC […]

  8. Kip Hansen says:

    Using “excess” electricity to make “heat” through resistive heating coils is massively wasteful but better than throwing the energy away.

    Using the heat as heat is better than suffering the losses involved in trying to use that heat to re-generate electricity.

    The “sand”-ness of the plan is an idiotic media push. Any material that retains heat — any substance used as “thermal mass” — would do as well. Installing thermal mass (thick brick wall) inside a house as floors and walls on which the sun shines through insulated glass is an old idea and individually heats homes. ( https://www.buildwithrise.com/stories/thermal-mass-in-the-home )

    Efficiencies in this system are probably lousy — but, again, better than throwing the energy away.

    Much of New York City has city supplied centralized steam heating….

  9. catweazle666 says:

    Instead of merely using the stored heat, wouldn’t it be more effective to use some type of molten salt compound with a high latent heat of fusion?
    Remembering the old hypo crystal experiment from “O” level physics, chosen correctly it wouldn’t even have to be maintained at a high temperature while it was storing the heat.

  10. MrGrimNasty says:

    As I posted on NALOPKT, I reckon 100T of sand raised 480C stores about 11200kwh. Roughly the yearly gas use of 1 UK home.
    It’s yet another dumb wasteful pointless plan.

  11. Graeme No.3 says:

    We are saved, at least according to the BBC. Install a 100 ton sand bunker in your lounge room before winter.
    Most of the comments under the youtube version are from gushing gullible greens but this one sums them up
    “Oh thank god, I’m Stepping over corpses daily on my way to work because of climate change here in the UK and the whole experience has just been truly heartbreaking and horrifying..”

  12. oldbrew says:

    Green energy has another big problem…

    Mining Industry Warns Energy Transition Isn’t Sustainable
    Jul 03, 2022

    There is a glaring problem in the energy transition that not many people are acknowledging.

    It is being built on the back of finite resources, and the mining industry is already warning that there aren’t enough metals for all the batteries the transition will require.

    Because of the short supply, prices are on the rise, as are prices across commodity sectors.
    . . .
    A lot of the battery metals that the energy transition needs are sourced from Africa, a continent fraught with poverty, corruption, and political uncertainty. It is also a continent that is currently threatened by a new sort of colonialism because of the energy transition.


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