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Can Wind Energy Be Stored?


Wind energy, along with solar and other natural energy sources, is what is known as an intermittent energy source.  This means that there are times (usually at night) when this energy is readily available and times when it is not, and these times do not always match up with the hours in which the human need for energy is at its greatest.  Traditionally, storing wind energy has been one of the major obstacles to its widespread use, as but many companies are working to develop new ways to store wind energy every day.  [1]

Wind Energy Stored Like Other Energy Types

The most obvious solution stores wind energy the same way people store any other kind of energy:  in batteries.  Small amounts of wind energy can be stored in car-sized sodium sulfur batteries, and huge lithium ion batteries are being developed for longer-term storage.  In theory, these batteries could be used to power the grid as needed, even when wind turbines are not active.  Other long-term storage solutions, such as huge underground compressed air tanks and flywheels, are currently under development by many energy companies and environmental organizations.  In places, companies are also experimenting with using wind energy to drive water uphill into large tanks or reservoirs, where it can then be used to drive hydroelectric generators when power is needed. [2]

Wind Energy Storage is Power Oriented

Right now, most wind energy storage is “power oriented.”  This means that small amounts of energy are stored to stabilize fluctuations in the power grid’s output, for example during hours when it is not windy.  Research and development are being done to create more options for “energy oriented” storage, where large amounts of energy are stored for use during peak hours when wind farms are less active.  It is possible to store wind energy, but making that storage practical is still a work in progress.



[1]Wind Energy Development Programmatic EIS
Wind Energy Basics

[2]Scientific American
Can Wind Power Be Stored?

Natural Resources Resource Institute, University of Minnesota Deluth
Abandoned Mines Hold Potential to Capture Wind Energy

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