Energy Storage for Renewables – The Pros and Cons 

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Renewable energy needs to be stored, just like any other energy. Wind turbines may capture power from the wind, and solar panels may capture power from the sun, but without effective energy storage, most of that power would disperse before being used.

There are also inherent limitations with most renewable energy. For instance, wind turbines only work when the wind is blowing. Solar panels only work when the sun is shining. Any house or business that relies on that energy will need an effective energy storage system or be left without power when the wind is still, or the sky is dark.

Where things get tricky is that energy storage itself poses sustainability problems. Capturing renewable energy in order to protect the environment does little good if our energy storage creates waste and pollution.

The Current Energy Storage Landscape

Currently, energy storage for renewable devices is dominated by traditional chemical batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are the most common. The issue with these lithium-ion batteries is that they produce massive amounts of pollution to create. The mining process alone creates a lot of carbon emissions and dumps pollutants into local water systems. Lithium is mined from salt brines, and the resulting flow of saline water into local water systems ruins the drinking water for locals.

There are social concerns, as well. Many chemical-batter mining operations are done in countries with little or no worker protections. This means that unethical employment practices abound. Child labor is a serious problem, generally unsafe and miserable working conditions.

Chemical batteries are also not very recyclable. Even the meager recycling that can be done requires a lot of work and, therefore, waste. The batteries need to be physically shredded to get out the recyclable parts. Many would say that an unrecyclable energy storage solution for renewable energy is patently absurd. Fortunately, there is a solution on the market.

Flywheel Energy Storage Technology

Flywheel technology has grown out of the potter’s wheel of ancient Mesopotamia. However, the people of that ancient place would not recognize modern flywheels. The devices are so massive that they use high-powered magnets to help support their weight. They function by using a dual-use motor to spin a mass around an axis and then store the created energy.

Flywheel energy storage has many pros over chemical battery energy storage, including:

  • 30 years of productivity per flywheel (and the technology is still improving)
  • High recyclability
  • Significantly fewer operating and maintenance requirements
  • No need for air conditioning, ventilation, or heating to operate effectively
  • The ability to function efficiently in both extreme heat and extreme cold
  • Greater than 86 percent round trip efficiency
  • No fire hazard posed

Flywheels do not require the harsh mining operations that chemical batteries do. They are, therefore, a kinder environment and socially.

As we discuss the merits of the technology, remember that it is still severely under-adopted. The technology has huge room to grow as it becomes more readily and widely used.

Amber Kinetics is the Company to Usher in the Dominance of Flywheel Energy Storage

Much of the world is just now waking up to the need for flywheel energy storage, but Amber Kinetics has been at it for over fourteen years. The company was founded in 2008 by Seth Sanders (Chief Scientist Dr) and Ed Chiao (Chief Executive Officer).

Amber Kinetics created the world’s first four-hour discharge, long-duration kinetic energy system. As of 2022, they produced over 916-megawatt hours and more than 578,000 hours of cumulative flywheel runtime. They’ve powered more than 302 houses and generated enough energy to power more than 67,000 houses.

Amber Kinetics did all of that while most of the rest of the world didn’t even know what flywheel energy storage meant to create a massive competitive moat around their business. They are a mission-driven company that saw a need more than a decade before the rest of the world started to recognize it.

Many competitors are starting to rise and make their claim to fill the world’s renewable energy storage needs. The world needs any companies that can do so successfully, but the fact is that Amber Kinetics is heads and shoulders with any competitor in the flywheel energy storage space. They have been living there all this time, waiting for when the world would fully realize its need for their solutions.

That time is now.

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