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13 Jun 2019, 13:24
Sören Amelang

Siemens Gamesa starts operation of world’s first heat storage in volcanic rock

Clean Energy Wire

Wind turbine maker Siemens Gamesa has begun storing renewable power as heat in about 1,000 tonnes of volcanic rock in the Northern German city of Hamburg. Electricity heats the rock to 750 degrees Celsius and a steam turbine is used to turn the heat into electricity again when demand peaks, according to the company. The pilot project can store up to 130 MWh of thermal energy for a week. Siemens Gamesa plans to scale up storage capacity in a next step. “The goal is to store energy in the range of several gigawatt hours (GWh) in the near future,” it says. One gigawatt hour is the equivalent to the daily electricity consumption of around 50,000 households, according to the company.

Storing intermittent renewable energy on a large scale is considered one of the energy transition’s central challenges. There are many different proposals to achieve this, including the use of salt, a massive rock piston, or steel to store the energy, or to transfer it to Swedish or Norwegian hydropower plants.

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