Windy Miller

A while ago I was reading about compressed air energy storage in natural underground caverns (probably in something from the IET) and I was surprised that something similar doesn’t get mentioned more along with renewable generation like wind power. On the other hand, the unpredictability of wind does seem to get mentioned as a limiting factor much more; understandably it’s a little hard to react to peaks in demand and energy price if you have no control over when the wind blows.

Given the growing number of off shore wind farms, I wondered if wind energy could be stored by pumping sea water out of something like a large diving bell, allowing the water back in to generate electricity on demand. Turns out that ‘something like a large diving bell’ is a submerged, open bottomed, anchored caisson.


(cc) some rights reserved. Thanks to phault and Zach Putnam for their photos.

The idea might not get a lot of air time but parliament seem interested in storage techniques in general, and there are examples of the possibility being researched and developed, so there may be a future for renewables without as much baseline capacity required from non-renewables. What do you think?

Update: not for offshore wind farms, but @USR_VRB pointed out a very interesting post about a compressed air project, where the air is used to improve the efficiency of gas powered generation. Some good discussion and links in the comments as well. (4 Sept 2009)

Update: there’s a much more in depth discussion of this idea on Salient White Elephant, and it doesn’t look promising unfortunately. (10 Sept 2012)

3 thoughts on “Windy Miller

  1. I was also thinking of a combination grey water header tank and a small scale pump/storage hydro system. But again I think this might not scale down far enough to be useful without filling the entire loft space with water tank.

  2. i think at the end of the day will be us as individuals that will make the difference ..and we can all do our little bit ..and with prices dropping to almosty a dollar a watt now solar becomes more affordable to everyone and with all the new technolgy about …see my blog will make it controlable affordable and practicle for everyone ..steve

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