Wednesday 22 August 2018

sisyphean task

The always engrossing Kottke directs our attention to a classic, low-tech solution to a very modern problem with renewable energy generation: an innovative Swiss demonstration project that illustrates the efficient storage of energy in stacking heavy blocks.
We’ve previously explored how surplus energy (the excess over and above demand when the sun is shiny or it’s windy) can be “saved” for the doldrums by converting it from kinetic to potential energy, a controlled surrender to the struggle against gravity hard won in times of plenty with other applications—including dams and the Sisyphus Train—but this proposal which involves constructing and dismantling a tower seems especially precise and calibrated to needs. In its fully-charged state, a central crane would be surrounded with a block tower it built up using excess energy and when the power supply runs low, blocks are removed one by one and descend to the ground slowly, churning out electricity with a turbine in the process.