How To Store Wind Power: Pump It Into A Big Underwater Balloon
Testing Hydrostor model, University of Windsor
Tyler Hamilton recently wrote Mad Like Tesla: Underdog Inventors and their Relentless Pursuit of Clean Energy, and while the book may be out, he keeps looking for those crazy ideas that might change everything. Here is another: Hydrostor.
A big problem with wind power is that it doesn't always blow when you need peak power, but electricity is hard to store. Canadian startup Hydrostor takes that off-peak power from offshore wind turbines and uses it to pump up a big underwater balloon. "Electricity is converted to compressed air and stored in flexible underwater mounted accumulators. The weight of water keeps the air at pressure. Stored air is then released and converted back into electricity when required."
200 balloons could supply 2 megawatts for four hours.
It is such a simple idea, adding another benefit to offshore wind. There is lots of room for it, and you never even see it, the NIMBYs won't even know it is there unless they drop an anchor into it. Tyler Hamilton writes in the Star:
If [President Cameron] Lewis can prove it works reliably, the next step is to place a grid of about 140 bags -- much larger than the one currently being tested -- under the lake about seven kilometres offshore. The system would be capable of supplying 1 megawatt of power over four hours.
"Underwater there's a lot of free space," said Lewis as he gave me a tour of Hydrostor's Leslie Spit demo site. "We can basically build storage like assembling Lego blocks."
In the last provincial election, the Liberal Party lost almost every riding where there was a proposal for offshore wind because Ontarians would rather suck on CO2 than have those ugly turbines disturb their pretty views. But if Hydrostor works, perhaps offshore wind will be blowing back into Ontario. More at Hydrostor, via The Toronto Star and Clean Break
More on Wind in Ontario:
Ontario Cancels Offshore Wind Projects, Blames "Lack of Science"
Quotes Of The Day: Critics Of Ontario's Cancellation Of Offshore Wind Speak Out