A startup from Finland called energy of the polar night has developed a sand-based energy storage system. The idea is to store excess energy from clean power sources such as wind, solar, etc. to be reused days or even months later.
If it works, it will help solve the main pain point of intermittent clean energy sources by making their final energy delivery more predictable and therefore more reliable.
But how does it work and why sand? Polar Night Energy’s solution is simple and elegant. They use clean electricity to heat a large mass of sand that is well insulated from the outside. It could be in a silo or even buried underground.
Such a mass heated to 500 °C (930 °F) would store this energy for months. In theory, it could store the energy of the summer months to use in the fall and winter. The primary challenge is to monitor and control the heat release, and this task would be computerized.
The first commercial application of this technology was at a Finnish utility called Vatajankoski, and the stored energy will partially power the utility’s heating system.
If this design delivers what it promises, it would be an exquisite and affordable way to store clean energy. The sand doesn’t even have to be as expensive as construction sand, and no harmful chemicals are needed to build the storage system
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