May 2017

Alternative Energy and the Need for a Proper Storage Technology

May 4, 2017

Many different energy storage technologies are available now for electric power applications. The most popular ones are as follows:

  • Pumped hydropower
  • Flywheels
  • Batteries
  • Super-capacitors

As you might know from your JC Physics Tuition classes or elsewhere, conventional energy sources are getting depleted rapidly. That is why, it is safe to assume that alternative energy will be the way forward in coming years.
Without a doubt, the sun remains the most valuable energy source. More and more people are using solar power to meet all or a part of their energy requirements. It’s not only individuals who are using solar energy in great numbers; companies too are jumping on the solar bandwagon.
In the past few years, a large number of companies have started making solar cells, both polycrystalline and mono-crystalline. These cells have found use in many sectors such as the aerospace, automotive, and aviation industry, among others. Solar energy offers two key advantages. One, is renewable, and two, it doesn’t harm the environment.
Here’s a brief description of each of the listed storage technology:
Pumped Hydro
This is oldest central station energy storage technology. The working mechanism of a pumped hydro setup is fairly simple and involves use of 2 large reservoirs. One reservoir is situated at the base level, and the other an elevation.
The upper reservoir is filled with water, which is stored for future use. When there is a demand for electricity, water is allowed to pass to the lower reservoir, where it is made to pass through hydraulic turbines to generate electrical power.  
In the last few years, scientists have started exploring the possibility of using flywheels for energy storage. There are two main components to flywheel: the flywheel itself which spins at an extremely high velocity and an electrical apparatus which, depending on the need, can act as a motor for turning flywheel and storing energy or a generator for producing electrical power whenever there is a demand for it.
Much of the focus in the last few years has been on batteries for storing electricity. Many different types of batteries are available commercially. Additionally, there are many more which at present are in their designing phase.
One common type of battery is chemical battery, in which the energy is stored in chemical form. Whenever there’s a demand, chemical reactions allow release of electricity from the battery to grid.
The newest entrant in this space is valve regulated lead acid battery. It requires low maintenance and is leak and spill-proof. Compared to other commercial options, this battery is more compact.
As you might have learned in your physics tuition class, super-capacitors, which are also called ultra-capacitors, are currently in the nascent stage of development as a viable energy storage source. One can find small capacitors in the market right now. The range of these capacitors varies from 7 to 10 watts. They are usually used in electrical devices used in homes.
While no one has the future, it is safe to predict that we will be relying more and more on alternative sources of energy in coming years.

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