Spain’s commitment to renewables is clear, but this type of energy has a major drawback: intermittent supply. There are alternative storage solutions based on materials such as salt or manganese dioxide that collect energy when it is generated and then share it when a source is scarce – the wind in wind power or the sun in solar power, for example.
With the idea of solving this problem, the Italian company Energy Dome has designed a giant battery. It is located on the island of Sardinia and is the first CO2 ‘battery’ in the world, with a system that uses carbon dioxide to store renewable energy and that, according to its creators, will make it profitable worldwide.
According to its creators, it is now ready for commercial development. This battery uses CO2 for the first time, and uses the unique properties that allow it to be charged and discharged at room temperature. Regarding possible emissions, the company ensures that the system is sealed to prevent carbon dioxide from escaping into the atmosphere. In addition, its design does not contain scarce materials such as cobalt or lithium, which makes it much cheaper and more sustainable.
The company maintains that its pilot plant in Sardinia uses equipment that has no international supply problems and that its technology could be deployed around the world quickly.
How does it work
The design is based on the property of CO2 to condense and store as a liquid under pressure and at room temperature. And according to its creators, it is the perfect fluid to store energy without the need to reach very low temperatures.
The system is completely new, although as the Italian company has explained, it is similar to the one used in biogas plants. The ‘battery’ is charged by taking the CO2 stored in a large vault at near-atmospheric temperature and pressure, and compressing it into a liquid. That process generates heat that is stored and used for the discharge phase. There, the liquid CO2 is heated and becomes a gas that passes through a turbine that generates energy. The gas returns to the sealed vault where it is stored until the next use
the price of electricity
The price of electricity will fall by more than 20% as the production of renewables increases. The biggest gusts of wind that have occurred in some parts of Spain in recent days are contributing to renewable generation, which allows gas deliveries to be reduced and, therefore, cheaper electricity. Thus, these solutions will be essential to avoid all obstacles and complete the energy transition.
I’m a science journalist and host of Cosmic Controversy (brucedorminey.podbean.com) as well as author of “Distant Wanderers: the Search for Planets Beyond the Solar System.” I primarily cover aerospace and astronomy. I’m a former Hong Kong bureau chief for Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine and former Paris-based technology correspondent for the Financial Times newspaper who has reported from six continents. A 1998 winner in the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Aerospace Journalist of the Year Awards (AJOYA), I’ve interviewed Nobel Prize winners and written about everything from potato blight to dark energy. Previously, I was a film and arts correspondent in New York and Europe, primarily for newspaper outlets like the International Herald Tribune, the Boston Globe and Canada’s Globe & Mail. Recently, I’ve contributed to Scientific American.com, Nature News, Physics World, and Yale Environment 360.com. I’m a current contributor to Astronomy and Sky & Telescope and a correspondent for Renewable Energy World. Twitter @bdorminey