Image source: Gravitricity
Renewable energy, in whatever form, has been shown to have significant investment costs over time, necessitating its use where its resources are abundant. However, due to its fluctuating nature, which does not always meet demand patterns, the critical difficulty after creating the energy is determining the most cost-effective storage method. Due to the intermittent nature of renewable energy, energy storage and release will be crucial in the following decades. Eventually, countries will have to embrace solutions for renewable energy storage. A gravity battery is a solution to this problem. A gravity battery is an alternative power supply system that utilizes renewable energy sources such as solar panels to store and transmit mechanical and electrical energy using high-efficiency electrical equipment as an energy conversion mechanism. It is a form of energy storage device that stores gravitational energy, also known as potential energy, which is the energy stored in an object due to a change in height caused by gravity.
The most prevalent application of gravity batteries is in pumped-storage hydroelectricity
A gravity battery works by taking extra energy from the grid to lift a mass, subsequently lowered to convert gravitational potential energy into electricity via an electric generator. Gravity battery energy is a source of renewable energy. A gravity battery generates energy by lowering weight, such as a concrete block. Predominantly, gravity batteries are employed in pumped-storage hydroelectricity, where water is transported to higher altitudes to store energy before being released through turbines for power generation.
In 2012, Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves, created the first working prototype of GravityLight, a small-scale gravity battery that is currently available commercially in several countries.
Gravity batteries appear to have some benefits over conventional energy storage methods. For example, Gravitricity's technology might last ten times longer than a massive lithium-ion battery and would have no cycle restrictions, implying that the company's gravity battery could be recharged indefinitely if properly maintained.
Gravity batteries are set to replace fossil fuels and pose fewer environmental hazards
Since practically all renewable energy sources have restricted use owing to their operational state, gravity batteries may be utilized everywhere on the planet regardless of location, weather, time, and fuel. This can also be used as a mechanical battery, implying a significant potential to replace chemical batteries in solar street lighting. Gravity batteries are intended to be used in conjunction with renewable energy sources whose sources (sunlight, wind, and so on) are frequently changing and do not always correspond to demand. It is thought that they would be less expensive in the long run than chemical batteries while also posing fewer environmental concerns than other traditional storage options like pumped-water storage.
Gravity is used in roughly all of the world's already active energy storage facilities, which have an overall capacity of 174 gigawatts. Gravity batteries are a promising technology that has the potential to help us break our long-term reliance on fossil fuels. They are expected to be able to swiftly produce electricity during peak use, perhaps supplementing or replacing fossil fuel peaking power plants. Single-weight systems should be capable of generating full power in less than a second. Gravity batteries on a bigger scale would thereby reduce the requirement for fossil fuels, resulting in considerable reductions in CO2 emissions. They are better for the environment than lithium-ion batteries since lithium-ion batteries have a shorter lifespan and issues with disposal.
Energy Vault and Gravitricity - developing a radical new grid storage alternative to conventional batteries
In the upcoming years, interest is being observed, including in Europe, the US, the Middle East, Australia, and China, regarding gravity batteries. Some of the companies investing or dealing in gravity batteries are doing quite well. To name a few – Gravitricity, Energy Vault, Gravity Power, Cascadia Carbon Inc., and New Energy Let’s Go. Key developments observed in the areas of gravity battery include
- In May 2022, Green Gravity, a start-up proposing to use old mine shafts for gravitational energy storage, has raised US$ 1.4 million in its first formal capital raise.
- Energy Vault, which was established in 2017, is also conducting research and testing to construct larger-scale gravity batteries.
- The Switzerland-based company - Energy Vault is now in the process of scaling up what GravityLight produced. Energy Vault is working on a crane that creates power by dropping concrete blocks instead of water. Prototypes of Energy Vault's products are being developed, and the idea is being developed as a possible long-term storage method.
- The company erected six cranes in a 110-meter high tower in Arbedo-Castione in late 2020 to move a 35-ton concrete block that can store 80 megawatt-hours of electricity up and down.
- Gravitricity, founded in 2011, created a 15-meter 250-kilowatt gravity battery prototype in Scotland, which began trial operations and grid connection in 2021. Gravitricity constructed a gravity battery in Edinburgh in April 2021, which provided its first power.
Slowly and steadily, many more companies are expected to resort to gravity batteries due to their numerous advantages. In the longer term, as power grids increasingly rely on intermittent renewable energy - gravity batteries and other forms of energy storage are set to even out the bumps in supply and demand.
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Market Research and Consulting | Productivity and Growth Strategist