In a Swiss In the valley, an unusual multi-armed crane lifts two 35-ton concrete blocks into the air. The blocks precisely inch above the blue steel frame of the crane, where they hang from either side of a 66-meter-wide horizontal arm. There are three arms in total, each requiring wires, winches and grab hooks to lift another pair of blocks into the sky, giving the device the appearance of a giant metal beetle and a brick pile with a steel mesh. Although the tower is 75 meters long, it is easily dwarfed by the forests of the Lepantine Alps in southern Switzerland, rising from all sides from the bottom of the valley.
Thirty meters. Thirty-five. Forty. Concrete blocks are slowly lifted by electric motors from the Swiss power grid. For a few seconds they hang in the warm September air, then the steel wires holding the blocks begin to unravel and they begin to descend at their slow pace to join the dozens of similar blocks piled up at the foot of the tower. This elaborate dance of steel and concrete is designed for the moment. As each block descends, the motors that lift the blocks begin to rotate in the opposite direction, generating electricity that travels along the side of the crane and through the thick wires running through the power grid. The blocks that go down in 30 seconds each generate about one megawatt of electricity: enough to power about 1,000 homes.
The tower is a prototype of the Switzerland-based Energy Vault, one of several startups exploring new ways to use gravity to generate electricity. A full-size version of the tower could hold 7,000 bricks and provide enough electricity for eight hours in a few thousand homes. Saving energy in this way can help solve the biggest problem facing conversion to renewable electricity: finding a zero-carbon way to turn on the light when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. “Our biggest hurdle is getting low-cost storage,” said Robert Piconi, CEO and co-founder of Energy Vault.
Without a way to decarbonize the world’s electricity supply, we will not hit net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Adds power generation and heat A quarter of all global emissions And, as you can imagine almost every activity requires electricity, there are huge knock-on effects for cleaning the power grid. If our electricity is greener, so are our homes, industries and transportation systems. This will become more complicated as more parts of our lives become electrified বিশেষ especially heating and transport, which will be difficult to decarbonize in any other way. As a result of all these electrification, power generation is expected to double by 2050 International Atomic Energy Agency. But without an easy way to save a lot of energy and then release it when we need it, we can’t undo our dependence on dirty, polluting, fossil-fuel-powered power stations.
This is where the gravitational energy storage comes into play. Proponents of the technology argue that gravity provides a clear solution to storage problems. Instead of relying on lithium-ion batteries, which are eroded over time and require rare-earth metals that need to be mined from the ground, Piconi and his colleagues say gravity systems can provide a cheap, abundant and long-lasting energy supply. That we are currently ignoring. But to prove it, they need to create a completely new way to store electricity, and then explain to an industry that is already running on lithium-ion batteries that the extremely heavy weights fall from future high heights of storage.