Nowadays everyone knows we can use the power of the wind, of the Sun and even of the Earth itself to power our homes and plants. There are several technologies that use those “green sources”, such as Organic Rankine Cycles (ORC), advanced biomass gasification and biorefinition technologies, which are used to generate energy to use “on the spot”. But what would you say if we told you that soon we will be able to store that energy as well? Although it might seem overly futuristic, this is what is happening!
Apparently, Ireland is building a plant the purpose of which would be indeed to store energy supplies. The plant is located in Rhode and its revolutionary character can be thanked to a motor-generated flywheel that will be in charge of harnessing energy whenever there is major needs of it. The harnessed energy will be kinetic one that will be stored in the plant itself. And whenever there is a shortfall of energy due to changes in weather, the stored energy will be released.
So far we have had no satisfactory solution for times when there is not enough wind or sun. We have been dealing with shortfalls in a traditional manner – using fossil fuels, such as gas and coal. But even if we look at it from a financial perspective, being able to always use renewable energies is better. This is because the efficiency ratio of fossil fuel generators is much lower than that of the abovementioned flywheel – the latter’s 85-90% beats the 35-40% efficiency of the traditional methods.
Ireland is not the first country to implement the flywheel system, but all the already existing plants are operating on a limited basis only. Since the Irish project has received both government and EU funding, it is expected that it will take off and yield more results than in the US, for instance. It remains to see what kind of difference this will make, but it will surely be a significant one.