An interesting new technology designed to take advantage of the intermittent nature of renewable energy like wind and solar. From the article at Ecoseed.org:
Six units of Steffes Corporation’s electric thermal storage will go into operation this week on Vinalhaven Island, Maine to test over the coming months what could be the future of renewable energy storage for windy states: distributed energy storage.
The technology will make it possible to utilize generated wind power at night by distributing and storing electricity in the form of stored heat.
Steffes Corporation and its distributor Thermal Energy Storage of Maine L.L.C. have provided the electric thermal storage units for this week’s test of a decades-old electric heating technology married to smart grid technology. The goal is to utilize renewable energy instead of oil for heating. Wind power generated at night is stored as slow-release heat in very dense ceramic bricks, then released on demand to economically heat buildings.
Vinalhaven is one of the Fox Islands off Maine. Last summer, the Fox Islands Electricity Cooperative Inc. voted to build wind turbines for electricity and they now make their own renewable energy from three 1.5 MW wind turbines. However, like 80 percent of Maine, the island’s residents have until now been dependent on oil for home heating.
…The addition of smart grid technology to Steffes’ electric thermal he…ating units makes it possible to store renewable energy in home units that can monitor and regulate and store electricity as heat, and then slowly release that heat as needed over a 24-hour period.
Distributed electricity storage as heat brings a solution to storing and then utilizing cheaper night-time wind power as home heating, and will be good for the island’s residents individually, saving them money on home heating, while also regulating wind on the grid.
It is also much better economically for the islanders because, as members of the Fox Islands Electricity Cooperative, they have been selling their wind energy to the mainland at comparatively low rates.
Read the rest of the in-depth article.