WUEG February 2016 Newsletter

whartonundergradenergy

February 2016

alternative to batteries, and it would similarly work

to incorporate renewables into the power grid and

to fulfill consumer demand. The technology

behind efficient energy storage is in the process in

which the energy that is harvested from a windmill

or solar panel is converted to compressed air.

Energy from wind or solar farms is first used to

compress air to up to 200 atmospheres. The

compressed air is simultaneously cooled with

water that is sprayed into it. The water captures

the heat from the compressed air, and the warm

water is then saved. Lastly, the compressed air is

stored in carbon fiber tanks. When the air is

expanded, the warm water is sprayed into back

into the air, thus doubling the efficiency of the

energy transfer.

LightSail’s first energy storage system will take

place this year as part of the Liverpool Wind

Energy Storage Project (LWES) in Nova Scotia, the

world's first wind energy project using compressed

air storage. Currently, this method is capable of

storing energy in the order of half a megawatt;

however, to make a competitive difference in the

energy market, there would need to be storage of

renewable energy on the scale of terawatts. Fong

is still working on increasing the storage capability

of this storage technology; however, venture

capitalists in clean technology are less eager than

they were in 2009, when she founded LightSail. To

continue developing the storage tanks while

making profit, there would need to be a shift in the

market away from dependence on oil and coal.

The other path that LightSail Energy is working on

is the storage of natural gas and industrial gases.

These high-pressure storage tanks would allow

natural gas to be transported to areas with less

abundant supplies of natural gas, and would

therefore, provide fossil fuel dependent areas with

an abundant source of carbon free energy. Fong

recently announced that these storages are the

long term plan for LightSail Energy. She described

natural gas storage as the base camp for LightSail

while large scale energy storage of renewables is

the company’s “Everest.”

Fong’s energy storage technologies provide two

viable mechanisms for solving the large scale

carbon emissions problem associated with energy.

It is estimated that within the next four years, both

of these products will become commercialized and

contribute significantly to the global power grid.

Sources:

Wall Street Journal

Wired

Fortune

MIT Technology Review

LightSail Energy

Future vs. Fiction: Offshore Wind

Anika Ranginani – Member, Academic Committee

Wind energy has definitely been a large part of the

discussion on sustainable energy development.

When we talk about “wind energy” people can

easily visualize the stark white turbines turning

away in some remote rural landscape, but with wind

energy we can go beyond just land. The technology

for offshore wind already exists, so the challenges

to making offshore wind a reality lie in the

implementation and the need to reduce costs. The

potential to generate offshore wind energy

represents a huge increase in the potential capacity

of the wind energy market, one that nonetheless

comes with its own political and economic

challenges.

Conceptually, moving turbines to sea doesn’t seem

that difficult. All we have to do is take that mental

image of the wind turbine on some rural region of

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