Russia 'already targeting' Sweden and Finland says Rinkēvičs
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These revolutionary new batteries can store renewable electricity for months at a time, overcoming a major hurdle in energy storage. The device uses low-grade sand, which is then heated up in the battery using electricity generated from wind and solar energy, which is generally cheaper. The sands can store that energy in the form of heat at around 500C, which can then be deployed to warm homes in winter when there is higher demand and the energy is more expensive.
Storing any excess electricity generated has now become vital to Finland, as Russia, the country’s biggest gas source, has halted its supplies to Finland.
This came after Helsinki refused to pay for Russian gas supplies in rubles after Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an ultimatum to do so.
As a result of this loss of gas supplies, many in Finland are concerned for the winter, as fears of energy rationing and blackout grow across Europe.
However, this battery, with its 100 tonnes of sand stored inside a grey silo, has the potential to alleviate some concerns.
These coarse grains of sand could be a major, cost-effective of storing energy, solving a critical issue with renewable energy, by storing power for when it’s needed the most.
Electricity from renewable energy is often generated at sites far away from busy city centres with high demands, meaning that massive interconnecting infrastructure is needed to transport this energy to prevent it from going to waste.
Furthermore, sources like wind and solar are intermittent, meaning there are times when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.
A major way to prevent waste of energy is to build massive batteries, that will store energy when electricity demand is low but the supply is high.
Currently, most electric batteries are made from lithium, which makes it relatively expensive, particularly as the global demand for lithium to build batteries for electric cars is at an all-time high.
The International Energy Agency estimates that the global demand for lithium could rise by around 40-fold in the coming years as major carmakers shift to electric vehicles.
However, in the town of Kankaanpää, a team of young Finnish engineers launched Polar Night Energy, which built the first commercial installation of a battery made from sand.
They believe that this battery can solve the problem renewable energy has with a high demand for lithium.
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Markku Ylönen, one of the two founders of Polar Night Energy told BBC: “Whenever there’s like this high surge of available green electricity, we want to be able to get it into the storage really quickly.”
Using resistive heating, cheap renewable energy is used to warm up the sand up to 500C, and given that sand is excellent at storing heat, the battery can retain this energy for months at a time.
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