Why the Future of Energy Storage is in Gravity
By Garrett Homes, GCC 3011 student
Gravity batteries are the solution to all our energy storage problems without having to rely on rare metals. Everyone is always talking about how the current lithium-ion batteries need to continuously be improved upon but what they don’t realize is that the solution to our energy storage needs could be in a form that has nothing to do with lithium-ion.
The Idea of Unconventional Energy
The idea of unconventional energy has been around for ages and comes in many different forms. One example, in particular, is the gyro bus invented by Swiss engineers in the 1940s. The gyro bus is a bus that is powered by a flywheel. The flywheel is “charged” by spinning a large flywheel storing energy in the form of potential energy. The potential energy is then released into kinetic energy which is what makes the bus move. The bus could move at about 40 miles per hour for 4 miles straight. This type of energy storage is great because it requires no fancy electronics or harmful combustion engines. Just a simple flywheel and maybe a gearbox. Its unconventional energy storage devices like these that are overlooked and could be the future of our ongoing battle against climate change.
The Contending Challenger
One storage type that challenges lithium-ion batteries is gravity batteries. Gravity batteries are great because they don’t require any rare metals that need to be mined for and can be used in a variety of different ways. Gravity batteries are a lot like flywheels in that they store energy as potential energy. It’s as simple as lifting a really heavy object to store energy and then dropping it when the energy needs to be released. A company that is currently doing this on a very large scale is a start-up in Edinburgh, U.K. called Gravitricity. This startup created a functional four-story, 50-ton, gravity battery that can produce up to 250 kilowatts of power. The gravity battery can be discharged in just under 11 seconds to combat high peak demands in the grid but is mostly used as a slow and steady drop that produces a constant amount of energy. Now even though gravity batteries like these are already available and in use today, the quantity and quality of these gravity batteries are extremely small.
The Future of energy storage
I can easily see gravity batteries taking off in the near future as cars become all-electric and the grid becomes completely renewable. One thing that most solar panels need is a place to store energy because the sun isn’t always shining. That’s where gravity batteries will come in. Gravity batteries are a great pair to solar panels because the number of solar panels is constantly growing, and the installation of gravity batteries doesn’t come with a lot of controversies. Gravity batteries don’t contain materials that are required to be obtained from ecosystem-destroying mines. Most of the materials are cheap common materials like heavy concrete and cheap metal. Another thing that makes gravity batteries way better than the competition is that their storage capacity doesn’t dwindle over time like lithium-ion batteries. The storage capacity of gravity batteries should be able to stand the test of time and require little to no maintenance at all.
Lastly, the cheap materials make it so the gravity batteries will be super affordable for most people looking to put solar panels on their homes. This combined with the durable materials means that people will be able to buy solar panels with gravity batteries and be able to never have to worry about energy again. With this many pros, it’s strange that more people aren’t talking about the future of energy storage however I believe there is still hope.
As the world moves towards a fully electric, all renewable society, everyone will eventually have solar panels on their roof that will be able to produce energy until the house can’t stand anymore. Along with the solar panels will be gravity batteries that will be right there with them. Gravity batteries are the solution that the world needs and will be the savior of our ever-dying climate.