Google energy projects are trying to live beyond the moment when it comes to renewable energy. Their developers believe they might have figured out how to store wind and solar power once it’s been collected.
Alphabet Inc. is a parent company of Google and was created to give projects the resources and freedom to bring ideas to life. Alphabet Inc.’s secretive X has been working on project Malta, which will be able to harness the power of renewable energy and save it for later use. Currently, if there is a surplus of energy produced that isn’t immediately consumed it can fall through the cracks and be lost forever. As reported by Courthouse News Service, this also becomes a problem during lower energy tides when there’s just not enough renewable energy to go around and utilities start using “peaker plants”. These plants create large amounts of CO2 emission compared to ordinary power plants. Alphabet plans to use an idea from Stanford physics professor Robert Laughlin who came up with storing energy in vats of molten salt or some other very cold liquid to conserve it.
Renewable resources such as sun and wind are at the mercy of the elements. A lot of the time peak hours for sun and wind might not coincide with the peak hours of energy use. That’s when Alphabet and their Malta project step in. Surplus energy would be sent to a storage unit, which is a large vat of molten salt kept at near boiling. This would allow the electricity to be stored as thermodynamic heat. On the other side of the spectrum, the energy could be stored in cold liquid similar to antifreeze you would find in your car. It uses the same properties as thermodynamic storing.
Alphabet Inc. reports that they will store almost 790 megawatts of energy this year, but significantly grow capacity over the next seven years. As society becomes more dependent on renewable energy, there will be an increased demand for power storage. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Alphabet Inc.’s X could be entering a market predicted to receive $40 billion in investments by 2024.