Sun + Wind= Renewables Working Around the Clock

Posted on December 29, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , |

Green Inc reports on a new project planned by Southwest Solar Technology that incorporates both solar and wind technology to overcome the difficulty of storing electricity. As Matthew Wald, the reporter from Green Inc, puts it:

“Electricity from renewable sources can be like a perfect luncheon served at 4 a.m., a nice thing but far more appreciated at a different hour. Electricity is hard to store, though, which is why nearly all of it is consumed at the instant it is generated, and energy storage is still in its infancy.”

Already, a potential method of storage is compressed air technology. Excess energy is taken from the grid at any time and used to push air into an underground cave. When electricity is needed, the air is released to push a turbine and generate electricity. In the southeast, the Alabama Electrical Cooperative has been using the technology since 2000. In its plant, the air is heated with natural gas to better drive the turbines.

 Southwest Solar Tech is working on working off of the existing compressed air technology to heat the air with solar power and intergrate wind farms into the mix. A solar dish will be used to heat a container of liquid to up to 1700 degrees fahrenheit. This will heat the air that is pushed into a cave by wind turbines at night, when the wind farm is generating surplus electricity that is not accepted by the grid.

This project is currently only in the planning stage, but as contintue renewables play a bigger role in US energy supply, the issue of storage will grow in importance.


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