This groundbreaking new project in Germany is testing the use of salt as an ingredient for a fossil fuel-free future.
The Reuter power plant in Berlin recently launched a new system of technology that is using calcium oxide, also known as quicklime, to store heat for long periods of time.
Germany already has the renewable energy capacity to power more than half of the country, but since many green energy sources are dependent on consistent weather conditions, the nation is forced to continue using fossil fuels as backup energy sources.
Quicklime, on the other hand, generates large amounts of heat when it is simply exposed to water.
The salt technology, which was developed by Swedish startup SaltX, works similarly to a battery except that it stores heat instead of electricity. Since more than half of Germany’s energy consumption is used on heating, the salt can be used to generate, store, and convert heat whenever the nation’s renewable energy sources fall short of the grid’s demands.
The technology is also far more efficient at storing heat compared to water storage systems that are notorious for gradually losing their heat over time.
The salt storage system is now being piloted by Vattenfall, the energy company managing the Berlin power plant. According to The Associated Press, the system is currently supplying heat to about 100 households, but if it proves to be successful, SaltX plans on scaling up the technology so that it can be used for thousands more German households – and eventually the world.
“In the next few months, we will collect important data to get answers to the question of whether and how this type of plant can be used in our business,” said Markus Witt, the manager of the new power plant project.
“Some questions are how large amounts of salt can be used, how quickly the storage medium reacts and how the process can be controlled.”
SaltX CEO Harald Bauer said: “We see a shift in the energy sector and an immense need for energy storage worldwide. We are eager to put SaltX Energy Storage solution on the market as soon as possible.”
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