Storing Electricity At The Bottom of The Sea

seabed-energyMost countries have a new goal in mind for electricity. Around the world countries are expecting to be able to store electricity to use during peak demand times which is a new concept as around the world we currently rely on a real-time electric grid.

We generate our electricity the same time we need it. We literally power on natural gas and hydro plants during peak periods during the day as demand rises. We supply the energy we need so no one has a blackout or brownout during the day.

For appliances batteries work great but for storing the massive amount of energy we need for on-demand electricity for business in home use batteries are toxic and way too expensive for this purpose.

A new concept that makes the most sense when looking at all the alternatives is to store electricity at the bottom of the sea.

Basically the way this would work is as if you were to open a hatch to a submarine deep in the ocean. The water would come into the hatch with insane force which provides the energy potential needed to create a source for storing energy.

A company called Subhydro AS will be exploiting the pressure of the seabed by implementing a patented process to make this a reality.

The company has worked out a partnership agreement with SINTEF. This organization is the largest independent research organisation in Scandinavia.

SINTEF creates value through knowledge generation, research and innovation, and develops technological solutions that are brought into practical use.

The mechanical energy is converted at the seabed by a reversible pump turbine as is the case with a normal pumped storage hydroelectric plant.

In this type of seabed pumped storage power plant turbine you will have a depth of anywhere from 400 – 800 metres. The further depth the better the results.

The turbine will have a valve that can be open and closed. When the valve is opened water flows in and the turbine begins to turn. As the water lows in the turbine drives a generator that produces electricity.

There can be as many tanks connected to this system as needed which allows for an unlimited amount of time this plant can generate electricity as needed.

The energy storage capacity of this system is only limited by the amount of tanks that are connected to it.

What makes this technology worthy of mentioning is that it has a high level of efficiency compared to other competing technologies.

You may be asking, “What do you do once all the water tanks are full?” You simply run the turbine in reverse so that it works like a pump.

There is a little more energy that is used up in the process of removing the water than the energy used in taking in water but it isn’t much.

When comparing this battery system with a similar type on-shore system you find that the efficiency is the same.

According to studies the round trip efficiency is about 80 %. A typical plant they plan to build would produce 300 megawatts for a period of 7-8 hours which could power 200,000 homes with electricity for that amount of time.

This seabed battery could work very well with solar and wind farms in providing the needed backup power when the wind turbines are not spinning and the sun is not shining allowing for a truly off-grid 100 % renewable power grid.

With this you could get constant power coming into a city running totally on solar power even when it is night.

The company has its eyes on Norway because the deeper and closer to shore you can have these things the more they work. Norway has a deep seabed close to shore which would offer the best return on investment.

You would not get the same type of profitability with this seabed technology in Germany because the sea is too shallow. Other areas of interest for them are in Italy, Portugal, and Spain as well as North and South America.

The company is still refining the type of reinforced concrete they will use for the tanks. They need a good mix between strong and light weight concrete to be most effective and to keep costs down.

Right now the best idea has been to reinforce the concrete used to make the tanks with small steel fibers but this process is still be studied and improved upon.

In summary, this has been one of the most promising ideas I have heard of for storing and generating electricity and look forward to seeing it working live in the near future.

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