I had a physics professor tell me about a motor/generator with flywheel system he built at an observatory in Chile. It was large enough to maintain the radio telescope and observatory computers for many minutes, and needed since the local power was often intermittent,
I've always thought that the flywheel concept for storage/capture of excess or intermitent energy is a solid one, though most of the discussion I've read here is focused on large scale (utility- based) application. Does anyone know of any attempts or assessments of small scale (individual) residential or commercial applications of flywheel storage?
It would seem to me that, particualrly for wind power capture, having a mechanical storage system could be that "bridge", absent the presence of the "smart grid" connection that would capture and utilize any excess power.
Finally, I think the entire issue of energy generation, storage and utilization has to be approached with the goal of establishing an integrated, multiple source system. Too, often I sense that the goal is to have these "renewable" sources be the replacement for fossil fuels and ultimately the sole source for power generation. I do not believe that is practical or doable in the near or even long-term, with current technologies. If in the evolution of technology we get to that milestone, so be it...
While it is quite convenient for people to bash Bill Gates and his software company, it goes without saying that the pro-active way in which fixes are delivered to problems have been adopted by several early and late-stage startups. Once you are past the early adopter stage and trying to commercialize your products, it is all about time to market. The other path is to do years of technological due diligence to come up with the mythical perfect product only to find that you are behind the 8th ball and a step away from bankruptcy since all those years of due diligence and R&D (= cash burn) has eroded your balance sheet. Key strategy is to get your product into the hands of the user once the fatal flaws are removed; follow through with a fixed-term maintenance contract, and solve the end-use problem that you developed the product for. In additiion to software, this philosophy is being adopted in commercializing solar-PV, fuel cells, flywheels, SMES (some day soon) and yes - batteries too!
This move by Bill Gates is a step in the right direction. It is good to see MIT's molten-salt large-scale energy storage technology being productized. With more renewable energy (RE) assets interconnecting to the grid, such a solution is a must from the standpoint of optimally harvesting the energy both during the generating phase as well as non-generating phase (no sunshine and/or wind). This also helps the utilities regulate the energy demand as well as fluctations of frequency and VARs which are direct results of RE integrated into the traditional power generation base. Some of the challenges for adoption of grid-tied energy storage are the cycle life, response (rate of charge and discharge), power/energy density, footprint and cost per kWh. Much akin to various kinds of power generating assets - both traditional and non-traditional, we can expect to see various kinds of energy storage technologies with different performance charactersitscs and ergo different problem solving capabilities. e.g. short-duration or long-duration storage, fast or slow charge and discharge - operate in harmony.
One additional thought is this: Would you want an individual whose company has a monopoly obtained by questionable means to be in the business of providing something vital? IN addition, would you want the business attitude that intentionally sells products that are deffective, repeatedly, to have a monopoly on high powered batterys that we would be depending on? Would you want your homes power source to be as reliable as Windows?????
IF you don't find those thoughts disturbing, you may not have a grasp of the situation.
The main premis behind the thinking that we must have storage in order to make intermittant power sources useful is based on the presumption that these renewable sources of power would replace the present ones completely, and that anything that allowed for less than 100% use of capacity is worthless. That presumption is based on the business plan that demands that there be no excess capacity, that all the KWH that can be produced must be produced and sold, to provide the maximum Return On Investment. That is the exact same reason as why expending the capacity of the electrical distribution system will do nothing at all to prevent another blackout. The instant that additional capacity becomes available the utilities will do their very best to assure that it is completely utilized, with the result being that there will be no spare capacity to handle the increased load on hot days.
REgarding rotating storage systems: People have been proposing them since at least 1956, when they were discussed in Popular Mechanics magazine. So the concept is not new. But I agree that there must be some problem with the implementation that has kept them from becoming a mainstream choice for all of these years. And the problem is certainly NOT a safety issue. And if guarding them was a concern, just install them in a basement, and any fragments would be stopped before they caused damage or injury. But I am certain that the problem hindering their useage is something besides that.
The negaive comments on flywheels is akin to rubishing airships because of the Hindenberg.
Modern flywheels are made from composite materials, not solid metal. As such, if they fail, they turn into a shredded ball of fibre with energy absorption everywhere. Yes, they still need a containement vessel to keep the bits in, but not to stop chunks of metal fling everywhere.
Look at Satcon if you want to see how the technology has advanced since the Hindenberg.
No offence taken, it just seems that containment of a flywheel assy is easily addressed, and as such is relatively a non-issue, IMO. I imagine that this is a technology that would best be scaled up to grid-level NOT by scaling up the flywheel size, but by scaling up the flywheel quantities per installation site. Oh, and while they are at it, a STANDARDIZED design would be nice so that unit costs could be managed, and site capacity would just be a matter of quantity of flywheel modules to install.
Not interested in getting into a flame war. Just playing devil's advocate.....
You could just as easily point to the Sony laptop batteries that burst into flames, to shoot down battery storage.
Just spitballin' here. My point could have been the perceived safety issue, or the capital costs of building something akin to a nuclear reactor vessel. I don't know.
I wasn't slamming flywheels. I have found however that when an idea isn't not pursued, there is an underlying reason. Sometimes technical, oftentimes political or economic. Without direct knowledge, or exhaustive analysis, am I not allowed to ask the question?
Design engineers need to prepare for a future in which their electronic products will use not just one or two, but possibly many user interfaces that involve touch, vision, gestures, and even eye movements.
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