Wind turbines have grown as a leading source of renewable energy due to their many benefits, including their low electricity cost. Their opponents frequently use the fact that they need backup or energy storage against to discredit them. However, Energy Vault and Enel Green Power have partnered to develop a gravity energy storage system that uses wind turbine blades as the weights. It’s called the Energy Vault (EVx) energy storage platform, and it is expected to compete with the cost of pumped hydroelectric storage plants.
Utility-scale wind turbine blades weigh thousands of pounds, and when the turbines have reach their end of life the blades could be repurposed as weights for gravity energy storage instead of spending money on their disposal. This is a way to reduce waste output and help operational wind farms to store energy as well. The gravity energy storage project will use power to lift the blades, and then they will be allowed to fall if energy needs to be extracted from them.
Gravity energy storage achieves this by using the weight to pull down a mechanism that drives a generator. Energy Valt and Enel Green Power’s design will consist of blocks weighing 35 tonnes each and utilize ‘computer vision’ technology. The blocks are made from shredded turbine blades. There is currently a 5MW commercial demonstration of this concept operating in Ticino, Switzerland. Enel Green Power’s head of innovation Irene Fastelli said that using the composite wind turbine blade materials makes the blocks more robust and stable, resulting in improved durability and lower costs.