Augwind Energy, an Israel-based energy storage company, has reportedly announced that it has developed an innovative system that stores harvested solar energy for nighttime use.
The Tel Aviv-listed firm, with a market capitalization of 1.2 billion shekels ($386 million), has explored a variety of methods for energy storage, including pumped-hydro installations that use gravitational pull to produce energy after hours, lithium-ion batteries such as those used in electric automobiles, as well as storing energy in chemical form, like hydrogen.
Currently, it is not possible to store renewable power in wind and solar panels without incurring additional costs, and this creates a significant impediment in the world's efforts to pull away from polluting fuels and avert a climate disaster.
Residents in Kibbutz Yahel, a small community near the Red Sea, have begun the use of a novel technology that can store solar power affordably and create power late into the night.
During daytime, excess energy harvested by the solar panels is used to fuel a system that uses water to condense air in underground storage tanks. At sundown, this condensed air is released to drive a turbine that generates electricity. This process repeats itself everyday
According to Gideon Friedman, Israel Energy Ministry’s acting chief scientist, batteries are hazardous and have limited cycles, while hydrogen is still in its initial stages and is too costly.
Augwind's AirBattery, however, is approximately 80% efficient when it comes to energy storage. While it is a little less than batteries, it does not deteriorate with time, unlike batteries.
Friedman remarked that it is basically a question of pricing against battery competitiveness, and whether this technology can keep prices low. If it succeeds, more such projects are anticipated to be seen in coming timeframe. Supposedly, some projects are already in the works.
According to Or Yogev, CEO, Augwind, the price is comparable to lithium-ion batteries, at $250 per kilowatt hour, and it will fall to under $200 in the coming year as the company expands its customer base.
Yogev added that the firm has already raised $60 million from institutional investors so far.