The “ocean battery” undersea energy storage concept is more similar to pumped hydro storage, in which renewable energy is used to pump water uphill to a reservoir. When extra electricity is needed, gravity is deployed to release the water downhill to hydropower generators.
The Dutch startup Ocean Grazer wowed the judges at CES 2022 with its contribution to the undersea storage field, garnering a CES 2022 “Best of Innovation” award for its Ocean Battery technology.
Relatively speaking, it’s been a short road trip from lab to market for the company. Ocean Grazer spun off from the University of Groningen in 2014 as a study project, then made a quick pivot into commercial development in 2019.
In one vision, offshore wind farms could use seawater to essentially store energy until it’s needed, helping wean humanity off fossil fuels.
Amid the growing push away from climate-warming energy sources like coal, stockpiling green energy is key, experts say.
That’s because nature does not always deliver wind—or sun—at the moment when electricity is most in demand.
Ocean Batteries are designed to be installed on the seabed near or between offshore renewable energy generators such as wind turbines, floating solar fields, tidal power systems and waves.
A water tank is installed on the seabed that holds up to 20 million liters (5.3 million gallons) of fresh water and stores it at low pressure. A system of pumps and turbines connects the reservoir to an acceptance body or bladder on the seabed. Water can be pumped from the tank to the tank. When it needs energy, the bladder is released and pressurized, pumping water into a concrete water tank and spinning turbines to generate electricity.
The Ocean Grazer team says the system is 70 to 80 percent efficient and must run an unlimited number of cycles over its 20-year operating life. Also, each concrete tank has a capacity of 10 MWh, so more of these tanks can be increased. To increase output power, more units of pump and turbine machines can also be added, if more energy is required.
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