Underwater Renewable Energy

Last month, we discussed a rather interesting way of generating energy in an unconventional and renewable manner. However, the constant problem facing all energy producers is how to store it once it’s been “created.” Well, wouldn’t you know there are innovators out there designing new ways to do just that.

For instance a company called Hydrostor in partnership with Toronto Hydro has developed a system of storing energy in underwater “balloons” and recently launched its demonstration project off the south shore of Toronto. In a Cleantech Canada article detailing the company and its new system, the technology is described as such:

“To store electricity, the Toronto startup converts electrical energy into compressed air using an advanced compression system. The air is then sent through the company’s three-kilometer pipe and stored in the lakebed balloons. To reduce the amount of energy loss, the company uses a series of heat exchangers to store as much of the hot air created through the compression process as possible.

“When Toronto’s energy grid needs more electricity, the charged underwater balloon battery can then jolt into action. To discharge, the system uses the natural pressure of the lake water to push the compressed air back through the pipe, where it powers a turbine.”

When discussing the technology with Cleantech Canada, Hydrostor CEO Curtis VanWalleghem said that even though the compressed air portion of the system has been widely available for decades, his company’s storage method makes it possible to use in far more locations.

“Compressed air’s been around for 40 years. It’s finding places to store the air that’s been the problem [and] why it hasn’t been massively adopted. We open it up to thousands more sites because we use hydrostatic water pressure,” VanWalleghem said.

The demonstration system currently in use has a capacity of 660 kilowatt hours, which is enough to power 330 homes, but Hydrostor claims the technology is entirely scalable, making it possible to work in much larger systems.

Leave a Comment