Today’s Solutions: April 19, 2024

We’ve previously written about how gravity can serve as an incredible ally in our quest to find viable solutions to storing excess renewable energy. Now, using a similar principle, Swiss startup Energy Vault has come up with a simple technology that can collect excess energy by lifting giant bricks with cranes. When power demand is high, the bricks are lowered, utilizing the kinetic energy to run electrical generators.

Though relatively basic, the concrete battery setup is pretty ingenious: First, cranes use excess energy to stack 35-metric ton bricks upon one another to create a 35-story tower. When energy demand is high, the cranes let the blocks fall, powering a generator and thus producing electricity.

The simple process is similar to hydroelectric power, where energy is stored by pumping water uphill to a reservoir and is recovered by letting that water flow and turn turbines connected to a generator.

Energy Vault recently secured $100 million in series C funding for its bold vision. Now it plans to scale up its demonstration plant, which is only one-tenth the size of a commercial unit.

Larger versions are expected to include 120-meter-tall cranes that would lift blocks weighing 35 metric tons each, with the potential to store 20 megawatt-hours of energy — enough to power 2,000 Swiss homes for a day.

The company plans to deploy its weighty platform across the US, Middle East, Europe, and Australia.

Image source: Energy Vault

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