How to Store Wind Energy
Written by Greg Allen   
Monday, 30 June 2008

Often we are asked about how to store wind energy. Let's talk about it a little: Wind energy has a broad range of applications, from water-pumping to telecommunications to powering both remote and utility-connected homes. In fact, wind power is probably the most rapidly-growing segment of the renewable energy business, but it is challenging due to its variability and uncertainty.  Because wind usually doesn’t coincide with peak load, appropriate storage solutions are absolutely necessary. Wind Energy Storage

Compressed air energy storage is one technology that has received widespread attention.  With CAES, as it is commonly known, wind energy is harnessed to compress air in an underground storage chamber, such as a salt cavern or aquifer. The compressed air is later released to drive an electricity-generating turbine.  However, the geologic formations needed to store the compressed air are not widely available, and above-ground storage solutions have yet to be developed, thus limiting this technology’s contribution to an energy system. It also typically requires natural gas to operate, although it is possible to use alternative biofuels instead. 

Batteries are another storage option, but traditional electrochemical batteries are expensive and have relatively short life-spans.  

Fuel cells could potentially be used to capture wind energy and convert it to hydrogen, which can be stored and in turn used as a large-scale power source, but this method still faces significant hurdles, both technological and economic in nature. 

The flow battery is another technology that is receiving increasing attention as a means to harness intermittent wind power. Flow batteries don’t require an external fuel source, such as hydrogen, to recharge the system. Unlike fuel cells, they are not based on rare materials and are less expensive to manufacture.  While their low energy density doesn’t lend itself well to powering an automobile, they are well-suited to significant grid applications and have great potential for large-scale projects that require high power storage. 

A technology recently in the news is the "UltraBattery" which is a hybrid that combines a supercapacitor and a lead acid battery in a single unit. It is being talked about more and more.  It was developed to power hybrid electric vehicles, it also promises to be an efficient and cost-effective way to store renewable energies such as solar and wind power. 

So.. there is no doubt that modern energy storage technologies could bring intermittent energy sources, such as wind power, to the mainstream.  This is an exciting time for the green tech market, and for those seeking to develop strategies to manage what can be considered a “free” raw material.

Readers have left 5 comments.
 No.1  Untitled
I wonder if they will be called something like ultrcapbattery or supercapbattery?
Guest (Unregistered) • 2008-06-30 09:48:17
 No.2  Yes, it must be super-ultracapacitor
Super-ultracapacitor can store "tens time energy density of battery" with less than $0.3/WH. I think the globle energy problem is the energy storage not energy source. If we have very low cost battery (saying $0.05/WH), we can save utility transpotation cost and the current power plants will be enough.
Chan (Unregistered) • 2008-07-04 09:08:14
 No.3  How about the Hyper-capacitor?
Right, Hydrogen is not an energy "source" just a method of energy storage. But since the best made tank still cannot hold Hydrogen for long (gases away at 4-5% a day) we need other options. If the new caps can hold an awful lot of energy and be made cheap then thats Hyper.

Guest (Unregistered) • 2008-07-18 08:54:53
 No.4  Untitled
Hydrocarbons are an energy storage medium. The hydrogen fuel is stored on carbon atoms. This makes hydrogen into a liquid compound which is easy to store, transport and distribute. Hydrocarbons, like water, are the "ash" of a previous oxidation/reduction reaction.
Mike Johnston (Unregistered) • 2008-07-20 06:23:55
 No.5  Fuel cells do not convert wind to hydrogen
Fuel cells convert hydrogen into electricty. You would need to produce hydrogen from wind via electrolysis,then store the hydrogen, then when needed, feed that hydrogen into a fuel cell to produce electricity.
CNBC Sucks (Unregistered) • 2008-09-11 10:29:29
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