Energy Vault is a Swiss company that is working on the fringes of energy storage. The company is exploring storing potential energy through the use of stacked concrete blocks! Through an investment from SoftBank in August 2019, Energy Vault now has two full-scale models of its concept in Italy and in India.
Energy Vault’s renewable energy battery concept
These batteries consists of an almost 400-foot tall, six-armed crane with custom-built concrete blocks weighing almost 35 metric tons each. As solar or wind energy is siphoned into an Energy Vault tower, an A.I. directs the concrete blocks to rise up. Then, according to the company’s website, the blocks are “returned to the ground and the kinetic energy generated from the falling brick is turned back into electricity.”
That kinetic energy then turns a motor, which passes through an inverter, sending the energy back into the grid. Energy Vault claims the process had a “round-trip efficiency between 80 to 90 [percent].”
Energy Vault says its tower design means it can scale up or down easily, based on a location’s needs. The company’s website discusses options of 20, 35, and 80 MWh storage capacity as well as anywhere between 4 to 8 MW of continuous power discharge for 8 to 16 hours.